Walk the Walk Following Unwritten Rules

Walk the Walk Following Unwritten Rules


The other day when I gave a presentation I asked everyone to give me an accurate estimate of the percentage of employees within their organization who positively represent the company’s brand. I was shocked that most of them said only 50%. When half of your people are pulling in the wrong direction the best outcome you can expect is to get nowhere.

The biggest reason for this is that there are unwritten dress codes people are expected to follow. So here are some tips for deciphering your organization’s unspoken but all-important rules:

  • Emulate the visible brands of people who are given the most respect and who have the greatest influence.
  • Take cues from how the senior leaders and the rock stars of your particular industry or profession dress the part.
  • Since body language speaks volumes, the way you dress and package your visible brand is an entire ad campaign – broadcasting 24/7.
  • Don’t forget that there are several distinct levels of business dress that range from casual to business casual and from essential business dress to formal business dress.
  • What works in the office will look overdressed at the company picnic, and what is dressy during the day may be too informal for an evening event.

Here’s the good news: When the rules are unclear it gives you an added advantage. Be the one who successfully decodes and observes those unwritten rules and you’ll instantly become an exemplary role model, catapulting over the competition.

Just do me a favor. After you achieve a position of influence, insist that the organization puts in writing the standards it expects employees to follow. Take the mystery out of the equation so that 100% of your employees will be excellent representatives of your brand and image. Innovate in that way and you’ll become an industry icon.


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Sarah Hathorn is a leadership development mentor, executive presence coach, image and branding consultant, public speaker & author. She is the founding CEO of her own successful company, Illustra Consulting, and the creator of the proprietary Predictable Promotion™ System.

1-800-267-3245 | www.illustraconsulting.com

Copyright © 2013, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS

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