Hello SOTGC community,
Welcome to the “How to Define Yourself as a Leader” saga. During the next few months we’ll be listing out some key steps to take when starting down the path of professional development to get that promotion you want. Some of them are what I myself did, and some are tips from executive leaders, from many industries, that I interviewed. This saga will share the feedback I got and delve into how to apply them in your everyday work life.
Today’s Topic: Dress for the Next Level Up
Over and over again you will hear: “That lady (or gentleman), dresses the part.” What this means is they have pictured what their next level-up position will be in their career, and they dress to resemble that image. For some industries that will mean a suit and tie at all work functions for a man. It may mean a suit or appropriate business dress for a woman. While the entrepreneur world, and certain industries, might not be as conservative in dress as the corporate environment, remember that first and consistent impressions send a strong message to your peers, leadership team, and competition. You will never “lose points” for dressing professionally, so my advice is go with the more conservative look over the causal, trendy, or artsy look when trying to move up the ladder.
It’s true that your hard work, skills, dedication to the team and task at hand, and various other traits will play a large factor in your upward movement. However, appearance will ALWAYS be a factor. Remember, every level up you move, you will be your company’s representation to clients and partners. You are no longer simply “Joe Smith in accounting,” you’re now the physical representation for your company.
Along with your professional appearance comes your business etiquette and manners. Anyone who reaches a Vice President level or higher will constantly be in front of clients, potential business partners, and other peers in their company or industry. How you present yourself both in the way you dress and the way you speak and act will speak volumes AND will get back to your executive leadership team. Having a 360 degree professional persona is one of the first things that is easy to implement and should consistently be maintained and/or worked on.
If you’re wondering how your professional persona is, take a look at five leaders in your company that you admire, see how they dress and behave, and compare them to your dress and behavior.
Next Topic: The Perception Your Peers Have of You Does Matter