In her Executive Presence talk, economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett elucidates the concept that she refers to as "the missing link between merit and success."
Executive presence is the way in which you signal or "telegraph" yourself to the world around you, through your gravitas, communication and self-presentation. Hewlitt began to write and research the concept of executive presence because she found it curious that women weren't making it to top jobs because of a lack of sponsors. She found that many male leaders found women to be lacking in executive presence, indicating that they were unfit for leadership. Hewlett connected personally to this struggle, recounting her experience at Cambridge University. She notes, "Every time I opened my mouth I let myself down. It was so hard to feel like a success story at Cambridge, or I suspected any place else if you spoke English the way I did." Her thick, working-class accent prompted her tutor to refer as "uncouth."
Hewlett's experience made her realize that, despite the fact they are often underrated (because they do not seem correlated to performance), communication, appearance and gravitas have a strong impact on your professional trajectory and how you are perceived in the workplace.