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The Secret Sauce for Success at Work

Big Data Download

Reliable performance and hard work may earn workers a promotion or raise, but it takes more than that to get to the top, according to a recent executive survey. In fact, there's a whole host of leadership traits executives expect from employees looking to rise through the ranks.

Traits like confidence, grace under pressure and dressing the part are among a host of vital qualities that make employees executive material, according to The Center for Talent Innovation.

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Those and other qualities make up “executive presence”—that certain je ne sais quoi— most top leaders possess.

Sylvia Ann Hewlett is an economist and CEO of think tank The Center for Talent Innovation. The center did a survey and found that in order to show executive presence, one must have three key characteristics, in the following order:

Gravitas. Sixty-seven percent of senior executives surveyed said the most important single trait is “gravitas.” Gravitas includes qualities such as confidence, decisiveness, integrity, emotional intelligence, great reputation and always projecting a vision.

More than 75 percent of executives surveyed said confidence and grace under fire contribute to executive presence. About 70 percent said acting decisively and "showing teeth" contributed to executive presence.

Communication. Twenty-eight percent of senior executives said communication is the second characteristic that contributes to Executive Presence. Great speaking skills and the ability to command a room are qualities most people in leadership roles have.

But communication isn't just about speaking. More than 30 percent of executives said the ability to read an audience contributes to executive presence.

Appearance. Although one might think appearance is just superficial and that hard work speaks for itself, that’s not true, according to senior executives surveyed. Appearance came in as the third most important trait.

That’s not to say you have to be Miss America or Handsome Joe, but good grooming and physical attractiveness is indeed important. Unkempt attire and provocative clothing can distract colleagues from your great ideas. And about 73 percent of those surveyed said clothes that are too tight or provocative can detract from a woman's executive presence.

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