It turns out that appearing to be a confident, hard worker could get you further up the corporate ladder than actually working harder. According to a study recently released by the Center for Talent Innovation, “executive presence” is key to career success.

In the survey, 268 senior level executives cited executive presence (being perceived as leadership material) as an essential component to getting promoted. The survey cited three areas—the ability to project confidence, communication skills and appearance—as essential to pumping up your leadership potential.

If you’re not born with the gift of gab, compelling confidence or an eye for office style, here’s how you can promote your executive presence by making a few small changes that could result in a big payout. 

Project confidence: 67% off executives surveyed said that gravitas (the ability to project confidence) is the core characteristic of executive presence.

Mr. Burns may have been the boss, but you shouldn’t follow his lead. Stand up straight, pull your shoulders back and walk down the office hallways like you’re meant to be there. Not only will your back thank you, but a change in posture can actually up your confidence level, make you look more approachable and feel more productive. Try walking tall for a week and take notice of the differences in your daily interactions.

Communicate clearly: The Center for Talent Innovation cites “excellent speaking skills, assertiveness, and the ability to read an audience or situation,” as skills essential for excellent communication. If you’re not a social butterfly, a presentation pro or even able to shine in normal social situations, think about taking a course in assertiveness training or presentation skills, ask your HR department for development opportunities, join a local Toastmasters group or ask an admirable coworker for some tips.

It’s never easy to break out of your comfort zone, but if a lack of communications skills are holding you back, there are plenty of resources to help boost your confidence when it comes to sharing ideas and communicating clearly at the office.


Polish your appearance: As the old adage goes, dress for the position you want, not the position you have. Although the study points out that overall executive presence is a more important factor than attractiveness, when it comes to getting that promotion, looking frumpy is never in style. Take notice of what your managers are wearing, take cues from that stylish coworker, or get help from a fashionable friend. A little extra attention in this department can go a long way in boosting you promotion potential. When you look you good, you feel good about yourself and other are sure to notice.