Why Image is Essential to a Leader's Success

One of the first subjects I introduce when coaching executives and business leaders is how professional image, first impressions, networking and personal branding are all essential elements to entrepreneurial success

An interesting observation I've made when working with young entrepreneurs especially in the tech and creative sectors, is that they tend to be more skeptical about the importance of image. Some of them are downright anti-image and they tell me their individuality is far more important to them than conforming to the age-old dress for success era. I welcome this type of feedback and reassure them it's entirely possible to maintain their individuality through their appearance, they just need to do it in a thoughtful and effective manner. Most of them end up being curious about how they can do this and I am more than happy to coach them through the process. 

Like it or not, in the business world, how you look says a great deal about whether you're competent or qualified. No matter how formal or informal your work environment is, the way you present yourself has an impact. This is especially true when first impressions are formed. As an entrepreneur you likely spend a lot of time pitching your business to perspective investors and clients. In these situations, people will assess your competence, trustworthiness, and likeability in just a tenth of a second, solely based on the way you look and communicate your message.

It’s still a sad reality that racial discrimination, ageism and sexism can enter into the picture when people are starting a business, a career or at any time. In many cases there's not much you can do about it, except present a professional image as possible. This includes your personal appearance with regard to clothing, grooming, manners and etiquette, personal behavior, and communication effectiveness. If your style is more creative, artsy or casual, just make sure your grooming is up to standard and that you dress with confidence. 

Whether you think looks should matter or not, they do. As an example, many studies say that people with white, straight teeth are seen as more successful, more employable, more capable, wealthier, more attractive, and more educated. It may sound vain but investing in a teeth whitening kit might make a difference on your road to success and if nothing else, it will give you more self-confidence in your appearance. 

In my experience, one of the most overlooked but easiest things you can correct in order to enhance your appearance is your posture. When we feel confident, the chemicals in our brains prompt us to stand up straight and arch our back. The more confident we are in ourselves, the better the chances that others will see us this way. 

Other studies say that ‘fit’ looking people are often seen as more capable, more driven, more in control, and more likely to run a successful business. Just to be clear, your size and shape are not the determining factors, it is whether you project an air of confidence and take pride in your appearance. Your overall appearance can be greatly enhanced by attending to all the smaller details. 

It's true that we live in an appearance-obsessed world and you can either fight it or accept it. You may have all of the traits and characteristics needed to be a successful entrepreneur but you would be making a big mistake to think that your appearance is not a factor in your success. Getting ahead is extremely hard in today's entrepreneurial landscape so my motto is "Make the best of what you have to work with and claim your success."

If we can help you get there, don’t hesitate to contact Jennifer Grant International. We are image specialists at the ready.

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