Showing Leadership Through Your Choice of Accessories
As Kurt Uhlir servant leadership expert explains - a keen business eye, good communication skills, and empathy are all important qualities leaders should possess. But if you think for a second you can get away without looking at the part, think again. A Princeton study of political candidates showed that for over 800 students judging them, the appearance was a sign of competency. Researchers noted, “rapid judgments of competence based on looks… can prejudice subsequent thoughts about a candidate’s other qualifications.” Thus, depending on your profession, smart casual, formal, or creative may be the order of the day. A good suit won’t necessarily cut it when it comes to being an inspirational leader, though. Accessories matter; they speak about your brand loyalty, values, and interests. Make sure to get them right – from your business card to your phone case, wallet, and office supplies. Every single item you pull out of your briefcase or desk is being observed – even though this may not be immediately obvious. Business people are very attentive to details, so make sure you are prepared with the sharpest look.
Small Details Matter
Imagine that you're at a business lunch and, when it is time to pay for the check, you pull out a tattered wallet. Despite wearing a posh suit, a detail like an old wallet, badly designed business card, or cracked phone case sends a message: that of a lack of self-care. Good leaders always want to improve. They look for ways – small and large – to show qualities like vision and professionalism. Paying attention to accessories is even more important if you work in the luxury sector. You should represent the ethos of your brand in your interests, clothing, and accessories. Carrying the right briefcase or bag, wearing a good watch, and ensuring your haircut is up-to-date and stylish, will help create a full picture of you that coordinates with that expected of a good leader.
Styles that are Out of the Ordinary
Leaders take risks and set trends. To show your cutting edge style, don’t be afraid to play with standard accessory codes. Even if you deal in a so-called ‘staid’ industry like accounting or the legal profession, why not share stylishly designed business cards in unique materials like marble with clients or colleagues? Your card will be noticed and you will be remembered as someone who is as thorough as they are avante-garde. Think about how many business cards you receive at a networking event or even just meeting people from day to day. Then consider how many of those that you toss to the side and look at again? Either the person made a superb impression that you try to recall who he/she is or he had a very unique business card that reminded you of who that person was. These little details are to help your potential customer jog their memory of who you are.
A Marriage of Formality and Personality
Looking the part can be stifling for leaders, who can feel like they cannot wear accessories they sport on weekends and when they are at leisure. Finally, however, even high-end watchmaking firms and fashion houses are incorporating ‘boho chic’ and other trends into their professional designs. Even if you are wearing a Swiss watch, why not pair it with a gorgeous marble beaded bracelet? Check out the latest copy of Vogue and you will see how friendship and beaded bracelets are increasingly being worn alongside designer watches.
Leaders are the face of their company. They are the ones called upon to face important clients and seal new deals. Studies show that appearances matter, so pay attention not only to the main components of your outfit but also to your accessories. Ensure they are new (or new looking), well designed, and in line with your brand. Finally, don’t forget to get a little creative – innovation is one quality that nearly all great leaders share.
It's not just to make an impression, but to make a memorable impression.
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