Our parents were correct, it does matter what you wear. The first thing others notice about us is our face, our height and weight, and what we are wearing. It defines us, whether we want it to or not. As a leader (or an aspiring leader), this stuff matters. So, exactly how do others size us up?
They study our face: Our face is our trademark. Is your trademark scowling or inviting? Intimidating or welcoming? Practice in front of the mirror. Ask others who know you well for their feedback.
They look at your height: Our height is harder to impact. Shorter female CEOs will wear heels. Research says that thirty-three percent of CEOs are over 6’2”, while less than eight percent of the population is this tall. CEOs might not all be tall, but you still stand tall by how you act and what you wear.
They check out your weight: Weight indicates health – emotional and physical. Be in the best shape you can. It speaks volumes about you – your discipline and your commitment to good health.
They notice your clothes: Dress, is the one area that we have the most control when affecting perceptions. What kind of suit do you wear? Or, do you wear flip-flops and kakis? There is no right answer, but the choice of your clothing defines your brand - and often, others will draw conclusions about your abilities based solely on what you wear.
They judge your curb appeal: This one is a bit more difficult – but think about your “curb appeal.” What kind of pen, notepad, and briefcase do you use? Choose something that stands out and defines your brand. Many leaders get defined by their choice of ties, type of shoes, or cuff links.
They interpret your environment: The location (where you meet) is also important. If the meeting takes place in your office, then the person checks out the space. What is on the walls, shelves, and desk? Does it indicate someone who is well-traveled, interesting, and successful? Does it say you are disciplined or lax?
They tune in to how you run meetings: When the meeting begins, what do you do first? Do you shake their hands confidently, but not too hard? Do you immediately get down to business or chit-chat? Can you vary your actions based on the person and the mood? Are you good at reading the room and situation quickly?
They take in how you handle presentations: Effective leaders are typically great presenters. Great presenters are not just the Dale Carnegie-types or smooth politicians, but they are persons who have learned to be their best, natural self while speaking. The importance of being a great presenter is to compel others, hold interest, and persuade.
Leaders must be able to translate their knowledge into a concise vision and persuade a group of people, especially employees, to take action.