Executive Presence in 2024

This post was written by Jay Prewitt, Director of Coaching and Facilitation at The Latimer Group.

The landscape of our professional world has undergone a remarkable transformation in the past 12 years. Reflecting on this evolution prompts a natural question: how has executive presence adapted to these changes? While enduring principles remain steadfast, the dynamism of our environments demands a continuous evolution in leadership approaches.

Dr. Sylvia Ann Hewlett, a prominent economist and CEO of the Center for Talent Innovation, has researched this principle. Her research, integral to our Powerful Presence course, has charted the evolution of executive presence. In 2012, she conceptualized this notion based on corporate insights. Returning to this exploration in 2022, her findings shed light on intriguing shifts.

One striking evolution is the growing emphasis on authenticity. Today’s leaders must cultivate a genuine persona to foster meaningful connections. Moreover, inclusivity has become a cornerstone of gravitas. It’s no longer sufficient to merely hire from diverse backgrounds; leaders must ensure that all voices are not only heard but also valued. The era of detached, autocratic leadership is waning; respectfulness and empathy are now indispensable traits for navigating diverse teams and nurturing environments conducive to growth.

In parallel, the virtual world of work has redefined the parameters of communication. Mastering virtual interaction is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity. Effective leadership entails not only orchestrating successful virtual meetings but also managing one’s virtual presence with finesse. Active listening and meaningful engagement are paramount in this digital landscape.

While our curriculum has always emphasized authenticity and empathy, the complexities of our contemporary world—spanning generations, technology, and psychology—demand a deeper exploration of inclusion. Investing in understanding and championing inclusivity is pivotal for shaping a future-ready workforce.

Reflecting on my journey into the workforce at the turn of the millennium, I recall the apprehension surrounding seemingly radical changes, such as introducing a “casual” dress code. Yet, as history attests, such shifts are not cataclysmic but indicative of progress. I vividly remember being told in 2001 that my naturally curly hair, worn in short, neat twists and not a buzz cut, was unprofessional and would be the barrier to being promoted, not my talent, work ethic, or skills. That notion now appears antiquated against the backdrop of our evolving understanding of diversity and inclusion.

I challenge you to embrace change with curiosity and adaptability. As we stand on the cusp of a new era in work dynamics, I am filled with anticipation. The contours of this emerging landscape hold promise and potential. Much like the world it inhabits, executive presence is in a perpetual state of flux. By embracing authenticity, inclusivity, and adaptability, today’s leaders can navigate these changes with confidence and purpose, shaping a future defined by resilience and belonging.

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

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Jay Prewitt, EdD

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.