Leadership is a hot topic whether that is leading a team of people in a corporate environment or self-leadership for entrepreneurs and executives. It is a popular subject at conferences and in-house training, blogs, whitepapers and the like. Leadership learning is on-going and leadership styles vary.
Leadership style for me incorporates certain aspects of your presence such as communication, speaking skills and for me it is also about how you look.
Our interactions in business now are so much more visual. With the advent of videos, photos on LinkedIn and Instagram and all our social media profiles, the way you look conveys an instant impression.
As I scrolled through LinkedIn this morning, I came across two photos. One of a group proudly displaying their latest awards and another of a group of new graduates who had completed their training. What stood out to me was the blandness – all wearing white or blue tops or shirts. No one had “presence” or popped out with visual appeal or said leader. No doubt they are all great at their jobs but personally I would love to see a bit of je ne sais quoi.
As you’ve no doubt read or heard me say, “When you walk through someone’s door or they walk through yours, your image and presence have an immediate impact”.
How do you appear through your dress and style? Are you putting consistent intention into your image and visual signature?
Working and living in a sub-tropical climate often sees me wearing “cool” clothing, a summery dress or pair of shorts, particularly if I’m not working with clients that day.
Yet if I catch a plane to Melbourne, even though it might still be warm, I’d most likely dress differently. Different place, different style. And as aside, I would never wear shorts, t-shirt and thongs no matter where I was travelling!
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 and professional PR to boost image, profile, brand and business. Through her professional development and profile building programs, workshops, consulting and keynote presentations, Sue helps businesses and entrepreneurs position and present an influential professional brand.