Updated: Aug 29, 2019
II was talking to a business associate the other day, and she nicely challenged me on why our image matters. The crux of the argument against image is: surely it's what on the inside that counts? Surely it's our expertise, integrity and work ethic that matter? It is not the first time I have encountered scepticism about one's image, and I understand why.
I believe you can have style and substance; the two aren't mutually exclusive and I think these attributes go hand in hand. Below I have detailed the 'for' argument for conscious style and image.
We have a minimal amount of time to make an excellent first impression, from a few milliseconds to thirty seconds maximum. We live in an age where interactions are rapid, and so making an impactful and successful first impression is essential.
A Harvard Business Review stated that "even hardened financial advisors judge a leader's "competence and trustworthiness" within as little as 30-seconds." These snap judgments were so authoritative that they defined a successful outcome for the CEO's who had a strong executive presence.
Style and Executive Presence
As a business owner, executive or consultant being able to communicate executive presence is crucial. There are three aspects to 'executive presence', and these are character, substance and style.
Style is the one aspect that we can all observe easily. We make first impressions quickly so our style must be congruent with what people know and feel about us as our role as a business leader, executive or consultant. If there is a disconnect between our style and what people expect of us, then we may be judged as inconsistent and not trustworthy. We can 'write people off' or overlook very talented people based on their image and it's ineffectiveness.
Understanding and controlling our emotional appeal across all communication channels is critical to our success. We can ensure a harmonious personal brand from our image and style to body language, behaviour, voice, social media messaging, website copy and face to face interaction. All of these customer 'touchpoints' should be consistent to ensure success.
How do you feel about your image when it comes to business?
Is it something you control?
Are you aware of your emotional appeal?