Oct 17 The Trademark Look of a Leader
Do you always exude externally visible leadership presence? Or is your leadership brand like most of those seen in today’s business arena – merely a temporary branding identity that you only consciously wear and emphasize when you are in the spotlight?
Every leader knows that they need to express a strong brand when they pitch a proposal, give a presentation, or compose a team memo. But that kind of “on demand branding” won’t permanently elevate you above the competition.
A handy way to summarize the key elements of a constantly visible and influentially visual brand is with the acronym LEADER.
L = Leveraged Looks
Specific wardrobe colors, styles, fabrics, and silhouettes subtly camouflage problem areas while emphasizing attractive features. Do you leverage those to your advantage to look your absolute best and highlight your physical attributes? If you do people will respond to you in a more positive way and you’ll have visible confidence, which translates into instant credibility and charisma.
E = Environment
How you dress is dictated by what is appropriate to your environment. Who are you meeting today? Are they new clients, your boss, or the senior team? Or are you cleaning out your office clutter on Casual Friday? Are you meeting in the conference room or at a client’s rural ranch? Planning your wardrobe based on your itinerary on any given day is a time-saving and brand-strengthening approach.
A = Authenticity
Adopt an off-the-rack leadership brand and you’ll feel like a store mannequin, not a poised and energetic leader. Find your own signature style and dress authentically, so that who you are on the inside is reflected by how you look on the outside. You’ll feel more comfortable in your own skin and it will radiate outward to give you magnetic appeal.
D = Details
Are you meticulous in your grooming and selection of accessories? Is your professional look polished, from head to toe? When your visible details are uncoordinated or neglected it tells others that you overlook the important details in business dealings. Attend to the small details if you want to play a big game and project a big-picture leadership brand.
E = Expertise
You may be an expert leader, but is it obvious at first glance? When you walk into a hospital you want the reassurance that comes from immediately spotting who is the doctor in charge. To be perceived as a competent and qualified leader, your external brand has to represent you as the outstanding leader. Study the icons of your profession or industry. If you don’t command the same kind of external presence they do, you may need to upgrade your look to uplevel your career.
R = Role Model
No matter where you line up within the business hierarchy, as a leader you are a role model for others. How high are the standards you set and exemplify through your professional presence? Everyone you lead is looking to you for their cues, especially when it comes to dress code. Always dress one notch up from the general population within your organization, so you look like the leader – not just another follower.
To be an instantly and consistently recognizable leader you have to have visible packaging that broadcasts who you are 24/7. Implement these tips and techniques to develop a unique signature look that always distinguishes you from the crowd with unmistakable leadership presence.
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Sarah Hathorn, CEO of Hathorn Consulting Group, is the go-to-expert in working with leaders and companies to create successful corporate DNA. As an executive coach, consultant and speaker she collaborates globally with clients and brands such as Deloitte, McKesson, Kimberly-Clark, Sherwin-Williams, Home Depot and other leading organizations.
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