by Connie Glaser

When industrial psychologists recently analyzed the performance evaluations of 61,000 executives, they were astonished by the results. They found that female managers ranked higher than their male counterparts in almost every measure except confidence—and confidence is key to that elusive quality of executive presence.

The good news for women, however, is that confidence can be acquired and is easier to develop than competence. Executive presence is more important today than ever before. And it matters just as much as – maybe even more than – impeccable credentials and an impressive track record. Headhunters estimate that, on average, executive presence accounts for as much as 70 percent of first impressions we make. What’s more, in recent years, executive presence has emerged as such an essential prerequisite for career advancement that major corporations like Shell Group and J. P. Morgan Chase have sent many of their high-potential female managers to special seminars to develop this elusive quality. What exactly is executive presence? Some experts think of it as a frame around your other credentials and experience. If you don’t have good professional presence, it’s almost like having a beautiful painting that has been placed in a cheap frame. Executive presence is the ability to capture a room by making a confident entrance, quickly developing rapport with others, and forging personal connections. When leaders with executive presence speak, people listen – because their words are filled with conviction.