Want to be a leader in your field? Your years of professional experience and job prowess prove you’ve got what it takes. But in order to rocket from middle management to the C-suite, you’ll need more than stellar performance.

Executive Summary

The road to the C-suite isn't simply paved with hard work and great performance. Individuals with an intangible skill set known as "executive presence" are more likely to garner sponsorship from senior leaders to help advance their careers, according to research from the Center for Talent Innovation. Here, SVP Sandra Scharf reports on the sponsorship effect and the qualities that characterize "executive presence."

Research conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI), a global think tank, reveals that promotion depends on sponsorship, or the committed advocacy of a senior leader. And to win and sustain sponsorship, you need to master the “intangible” skill set of looking, sounding and acting like a leader—what we term executive presence (EP).

Sponsorship is not to be confused with mentorship. As survey results of over 10,000 professionals in the U.S. and U.K. make clear, mentors give you guidance, but sponsors get you career traction, steering plum assignments your way, singing your praises at high-level meetings and providing air cover for you while you grow into roles that stretch your capabilities.

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