The Discreet Guide Releases New Study Results Indicating Executive Presence is Acquired Rather Than Inborn, with Both Genders Feeling Equally Confident (or Not) About Their Presence

SAN DIEGO, May 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Results from a study of over 400 professionals and their confidence levels about their executive presence were announced today. High total scores were significantly correlated with seniority in an organization, with a high level of education, and to a lesser degree, with older age. There was no gender effect on overall scores—according to the study, men and women feel equally confident (or not) about their presence.

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The Discreet Guide, a professional development training company, conducted the study in which participants completed an online questionnaire about public speaking, self-image, verbal skills, emotional intelligence, networking, staying cool under fire, and other components of executive presence. Respondents were drawn from the company's network of clients and colleagues, along with professionals who participated in the study through social media. Results were analyzed across seniority, education, age and gender.

"Higher total scores were associated with greater seniority, education, and age," Jennifer K. Crittenden, of The Discreet Guide, said. "That would seem to support my view that leaders develop confidence and acquire the skills associated with a strong presence as they rise in an organization and gain experience and training. The data indicate that aspects of executive presence are not inborn—they are learned."

Respondents expressed the least amount of confidence in the following areas:

  • Over 40% agreed with the statement "There are elements of my appearance that I am very uncomfortable with (teeth, weight, nose)."
  • Nearly 25% reported that they suffer from stage fright.
  • Less than 50% agreed with the statement "I like going to networking events, even if I don't know anyone there."
  • Nearly 35% agreed with the statement "When I get emotional, it is difficult for me to put those feelings aside."
  • Nearly 25% agreed with the statement "I get very rattled when someone starts grilling me in public."

Those results did not vary by age or gender, but seniority was negatively correlated with the last two statements. "Male or female, young or old, we share a lot of the same insecurities," said Crittenden. "That would not be cause for celebration, unless, as I would argue, it is possible to face and overcome those fears if we undergo specific training. For example, senior executives appear to have learned how to set aside their emotions and stay cool under fire. Business leaders don't typically undertake such targeted instruction, but this implies that it could be effective."

Additional study results will be published in Crittenden's book, You, Not I: Exceptional Presence through the Eyes of Others, due out May 20, 2014 by Whistling Rabbit Press. The study questionnaire can be found at:

About The Discreet Guide:

This professional development training company offers programs on Creating Exceptional Presence, Your American Voice, Success Strategies for a Male-Dominated Environment, and Speaking Up for Girls,among others. Training techniques include those used by actors and athletes, tactical exercises, and video analysis. See:

About Jennifer K. Crittenden:

She is the Amazon best-selling author of The Discreet Guide for Executive Women, winner of an NIEA award in the Business-Motivational category. She has an MBA from the Kelley School at Indiana University and nearly twenty-five years of experience in corporate America, rising from financial analyst to CFO. She serves on the board of Women Evolution, an organization dedicated to the advancement of women, and CoralBridge, a leadership consulting and conflict mediation company.

Jennifer K. Crittenden

SOURCE Jennifer Crittenden


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