03 Aug

The 10 Commandments of Professional Presence for Top Leaders

10commandmentsEvery leader in every organization knows that he or she sets the stage and directs the show for their employees to perform. But to put your best foot forward when you step into the spotlight to play your leading role you need to be perceived in a positive, confident, inspiring fashion. Make that happen by always adhering to my 10 Commandments for Professional Image

10. Thou Art Thy Personal Brand. So express yourself and communicate with presence!

Your professional image is how you silently communicate your personal brand. Image speaks louder than words, and others are looking at you with a critical eye. So respond with a strong, positive, influential presence that will resonate throughout the ranks of the entire organization. 

9. Thou Shalt Dress with Impeccable Visual Impact

You are the captain of the ship, so wear the uniform with pride and style. Everyone on board is constantly analyzing your dress code – in the same way that they take their fashion cues from celebrities on the red carpet. So make sure your appearance is outstanding and conveys the kind of professional image that others look up to and want to emulate in their own wardrobe choices. 

8. Know Thy Online Image 

Be sure that those in the organization who send out tweets or post profiles on LinkedIn or Facebook reinforce a consistent message congruent with your personal and company brand. Otherwise hitting that send button could instantly undermine months of brand strategizing and image management.

7. Give Unto Others 

Whether it means connecting two colleagues who may have a mutual interest in getting to know one another or offering to take a new hire to lunch – be giving of your time and expertise. This really goes a long way in exuding your professional image and brand. 

6. Honor Thy Team’s Family

People love to hear their names spoken and know that you are personally interested in them and their families. I realize this is challenging and I experienced the difficulty when I ran a department store with 500 employees who worked different shifts. But when I really made the effort to know everyone’s name – even the part timers – and I stayed a few extra minutes every evening to touch base with each person, call them by name, and ask about their families their eyes would light up with energy. They’d tell me about their spouse or kids and this made them feel like a real part of the team or organizational family. As a result I knew them better and the relationship shifted to enhance rapport and communication and help us achieve our mutually beneficial goals. 

5. Never Bear False Witness to Your Role

Be consistent as a leading role-model day-in and day-out. I sometimes ask an employee what the boss wears on Casual Friday and they say “Oh they dress in jeans and a wrinkled polo.” So although you may want to dress casually on that day to show your team spirit and camaraderie keep in mind that you are still the boss and the example others look up to and follow. Keep your presence polished and stay slightly dressier than your team so that you always look the part.

4. Do Unto Others as You Ask Them to Do Unto You

As you lead by example they will follow your example. So never ask team members to follow rules that you don’t abide by as their leader. Follow the same dress code, for example, that you prescribe for your employees. If you believe that team meetings are disorganized then you have to lead effective meetings like a pro. If you think people aren’t listening to you then you have to ensure than you are a respectful listener who entertains everyone’s unique point of view before making critical decisions. 

3. Share Thy Truth 

People enjoy hearing stories. If you open up a bit and share personal stories about your own struggles or lessons you have learned about leadership – even poking some self-deprecating fun at yourself – employees will love you. They want to know that you have a human dimension and getting to know you helps them connect and resonate with you as a person, not just as an authority figure. You don’t have to spill your guts, and that would not be appropriate – but do try to show a little of your softer side to those on your team. 

2. Conduct Thyself Properly

Your overall image needs to be polished and respectful in terms of dress, speech, and behavior. Be sure your code of conduct is appropriate during every professional interaction and on every social occasion. Your communications skills, whether verbal or non-verbal, must represent your personal brand and professional image in a positive light. No employee wants to play “follow the leader” unless the leader is exemplary and exhibits the qualities that they, too, want to acquire and imbibe for their own image, brand, and professional presence. 

1. Be True to Thyself

Be yourself. Leaders who try to lead like someone else lack confidence and it shows. Exert your leadership from the inside-out to become credible and influential in your industry. 

I’m interested to know your feedback on these 10 Commandments. Do you think they are critical for today’s leaders? Feel free to post your comments and point of view – I’d love to hear them.

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Sarah Hathorn is a professional image consultant, certified personal brand strategist, speaker, and author. 


Her company, Illustra Image Consulting, works with high-achieving future leaders and large businesses by enhancing their corporate and personal brand image to take their businesses and careers to the next level.

Blog, Ezine & Website: www.illustraimageconsulting.com


Copyright © 2010, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS

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Sarah Hathorn
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 Kimberly-Clark, Sherwin-Williams, Home Depot and other leading organizations.
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