When you walk through someone’s door or they walk through yours, your image and presence has an immediate impact. Leadership presence or “executive presence” has become a hot topic as the result of a survey and book published by New York’s Center for Talent Innovation.
According to the results of the survey, to demonstrate executive presence you must have three key characteristics. Gravitas, Communication excellence and a pleasing Appearance.
Or I like to call it the ABC’s of appearance, behaviour and communication. This is not news – it’s a subject that has been around a long time. I remember “back in the day” learning about these traits at what was called modelling and deportment schools.
Now it is also about the D – your digital presence, as often a first impression is made online.
Leadership presence is about harnessing these characteristics with intelligence to create an impactful personal brand and have influence with others.
To portray the core components of executive presence – I will share over the next few weeks my LEADER tips.
L is to LOOK Like a Leader to Shine
How do you appear through your dress and style? Are you putting consistent intention into your image and visual signature?
Leadership style needs to be congruent with the work you do. What is appropriate for a CEO speaking at a city conference would be different to a leader in a rural community addressing a group of farmers.
For instance, one conference I spoke at was to a group of franchise owners from various parts of the country, some urbane, city people and others from rural and small towns of varying ages. The visual brand message they needed to communicate was to look like they represented this luxury brand.
It wasn’t appropriate for either group to look too slick or dressed to the nines. It had to be a look that was up to date yet suited them and was appropriate for the market they were dealing with.
Another time I was engaged by a financial services firm to speak on creating a personal and professional brand. The firm in engaging me to present to their team members realised the importance of everyone reflecting the firm’s values and brand through appearance and presence. As some people were dealing with conservative “old school” clients it wouldn’t have been appropriate to be wearing anything that was too outlandish or revealing.
Most of this is common sense of course, but often we have got into a habit of dressing and haven’t really give it much thought.
If you are a leader in a non-profit sector, dealing with many volunteers, a corporate, formal suit might be too overpowering. Wear simple, smart and well-tailored clothing rather than very casual or you may look like the volunteer rather than the leader.
Likewise, if you are dealing with high paying clients in a professional environment, your look needs to say credible, polished and looking like an expert.
Combine what is appropriate for your environment with awareness of your audience to create a convincing and compelling look.
If you want to be seen as a leader you need to act like one, and also look like one. No matter what your role in the organisation is – CEO or mail room manager, you are representing the brand. Your clothes and presentation really are the external image of your brand. What brand image are you projecting?
It’s not just your business logo that needs to look good...it’s the people in an organisation that represent the company brand and that person is YOU.
Want to know more about creating a compelling leadership look? Sign up for my free video series, NOOK, LOOK, HOOK, 3 Steps to Build a Powerful Personal Brand.
Sue Currie is a speaker and the author of IMPRESSario, Present and Promote the Star Within You. She is recognised as a leading authority on personal branding to boost image, profile, brand and business. Through her image management programs, workshops, consulting and keynote presentations, Sue helps businesses and entrepreneurs present an influential brand image.
Image courtesy Shutterstock
A shout out to my image consultant colleague Sarah Brummitt who shared her LEADER methodology at a conference I attended and with her permission share with you.