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Leadership Presence: 7 self-sabotaging behaviors that keep professional communicators from the C-suite

Type: Articles
Topic: Leadership and Career Building
By Theomary Karamanis, SCMP
13 June 2018

Are you “leadership material”? Do you have what it takes to get to or influence the C-suite? Most important, do others perceive you as a leader? As a communicator, I am sure you know that perception is reality. If you are not perceived as a leader, regardless of your array of qualifications and strong record of achievements, you will not be getting that promotion you crave and deserve.

Research clearly shows that there is a significant correlation between how you present yourself and the extent to which your work is being appreciated in the workplace. In fact, a 2012 study by the Center for Talent Innovation revealed that executive presence counts for 26 percent of what it takes to be promoted. Naturally, this is not to say that your leadership potential only rests in your presence. Having the necessary background, experience and skill-set is the necessary condition to get promoted; it is just not sufficient. You also need to project yourself to others as a leader.

So what is this so-called leadership or executive presence? Author Sylvia Ann Hewitt, through years of research, has gotten it down to three traits:  gravitas, communication, and appearance. Gravitas involves your level of confidence, your decisiveness and how well you manage yourself and others under stress. Communication relates to your speaking skills, your ability to command a room, your assertiveness and your body language. Lastly (yes, it’s true), appearances matter. Luckily, you don’t have to be a model to be perceived as a leader, but you do need to be well-dressed, groomed and polished.

One would assume that a professional communicator would have that second skill, communication, nailed down. After all, this is what we do for a living, right? Not necessarily. In fact, I would argue that our professional communication training, along with the nature of our jobs, often counteract our leadership presence. Here’s a countdown of seven self-sabotaging behaviors you might be engaging in as a professional communicator.

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Theomary Karamanis, SCMP

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