This book is excellent. Not so much that it’s groundbreaking material, but the research and personal stories validate what most of us already know about what it takes to be perceived as a “leader.” To get the most out of it, you need to be in the frame of mind that values “what it is” over “how it should be.” While the book is not gender specific, author Sylvia Ann Hewlett’s research points to the greatest challenges for potential leaders and those challenges happen to fall heavily upon women and minorities. There is little doubt that women face substantial challenges in navigating their way to the top in a culture where male leaders predominate and always have. If you are serious about developing your Executive Presence (EP) this book will be invaluable.
A wide and varied range of subjects is addressed, including the tension between conformity and authenticity. While that is an individual struggle we all confront at some point, the hurdle is a bit higher for women and minorities. “For these historically underrepresented groups are dealing with a double whammy. Not only do they need to shape and mold their identities to fit an organizational culture (something everyone faces), but they’re required to ‘pass’ as straight white men. Why? Because this continues to be the dominant leadership model. Eighty-eight percent of those who sit in corner offices on Wall Street and Main Street look this way.” I would add to that – 65% of everyone elected to office as well.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ as coined by Daniel Goleman) is an essential element to developing EP. “EQ is just as important for building trust because demonstrating it shows you have not only self-awareness but also situational awareness.” Being able to “read a room” is something I developed through theater experience. A good stage performance requires being able to read the audience and to work off their energy. It’s a skill that is needed in every situation whether it’s a roomful of people or just one person.Read More