A recent Princeton study of political candidates\n\nsays it may. In a survey of over 800 students who were shown one second\n\nimages of Senate and Congressional office seekers, those candidates who\n\nappeared more competent most often won their election. According to the\n\nstudy, and reported in the New York Times\n\n(6\/14), \u201cthe authors theorize that rapid judgments of competence based\n\non looks\u2026 can prejudice subsequent thoughts about a candidate\u2019s other\n\nqualifications. \n\nNot always, but most of the time. Competence was the only factor that\n\npeople were able to perceive from a photograph. Honesty and likeability\n\nwere less clear from quick photo impressions. \n\nSo what does this have to do with things in your office? I think the\n\nsentiments reflected in the study, albeit confined to faces alone, may\n\nbe relevant to those who aspire to leadership positions. How you look\n\nmay indicate how well you can lead or, put another way, how others\n\nperceive that you can. And when it comes to leadership, perception is\n\nessential.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nNot About You \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nIf you start with the premise that leadership is about results and\n\nresults ultimately come from the cooperation and collaboration of\n\nothers, then it makes sense that leadership is less about the leader\n\nand more about the followers. No leader can achieve anything by\n\nherself. She does it by working with others to achieve intended goals.\n\nTherefore, anything you can do to affect the relationship positively\n\nbetween leader and follower is critically important.\n\n\n\n\n\nHere are some things to keep in mind when presenting yourself as a leader.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nInvest in your appearance. Take a long look at yourself in the\n\nmirror. Women and men do this differently. Women, I\u2019m convinced, look\n\nin the mirror to see their flaws. Men I know look in the mirror to\n\nadmire themselves. Women gain a pound and see themselves as rotund. Men\n\nsee an expanding waistline as normal, or perhaps as an example of\n\nclothes that have shrunk in the wash. An exaggeration, perhaps, but\n\nwomen know better. If you expect people to follow you, give them\n\nreasons to follow your lead. Groom yourself. Dress neatly and smartly.\n\nAlso take care of what\u2019s inside you. Good diet and healthy exercise are\n\nimportant to your looks as well as your health.\n\n\n\n\n\nWatch your expressions. The Princeton study focused exclusively\n\non facial expressions. For leaders, the adage that the face is mirror\n\nto the soul has validity. If you frown frequently or reply with a\n\nsnarl, people will avoid you. Why? Because they assume either you don\u2019t\n\nwant to be bothered or you want to bite someone\u2019s head off, perhaps\n\ntheirs. Often leaders have no idea how they look until someone, like an\n\nexecutive coach or a trusted advisor, pulls them aside. So lighten up.\n\nBefore an important meeting, sit down, think a calming thought and,\n\nyes, check yourself in the mirror. And smile. It will reduce the\n\ntension in your face.\n\n\n\n\n\nRadiate authority. When Ronald Reagan walked into the room,\n\nheads turned and people gravitated to him. He had the movie star\n\nappeal. So did John Kennedy and Bill Clinton. Reagan may have looked\n\nthe part, but he was also approachable. He was a superb storyteller as\n\nwell as a good listener. Clinton exemplified the active listening\n\nprocess. His eyes would draw a bead on the speaker and with the cock of\n\nhis head he looked like he was melding with the person, soaking up what\n\nthe person had to say. It is more than charisma, a form of radiant\n\ncharm: leadership listening is an ability to put yourself in another\u2019s\n\nshoes and make them feel as if they are the most important person in\n\nthe room. Watch your CEO stride through the workplace. If she pauses to\n\nchat with people and really listens, she is someone to follow. If he\n\nblows by with a faux wave or cursory glance (and assuming he is not\n\nrunning for a plane), chances are that person is more concerned with\n\nhimself than others, and may not be liked or respected and could be\n\nmoving on soon. \n\n\n\nReflect the glory. Appearance matters, and so do appearances.\n\nYou want people to understand that you have an appreciation of what\n\nthey do. In most organizations leaders lead, employees do the work.\n\nGood leaders know intuitively how to interact with others to make them\n\nfeel appreciated. Leaders who acknowledge the efforts of their people\n\nboth privately and publicly are leaders who have their fingers on the\n\npulse of the organization. They know what others do matters and they\n\nacknowledge it. Skeptics may be wondering if can you fake your\n\nappreciation of others. Certainly, but only for a short time. If you\n\nsimply act the part, the part will wear out sooner than you think.\n\nAuthenticity is not an act. It is an example of character.\n\nLead by example. Looks matter, yes,\n\nbut ultimately it is what you do as a leader that matters most. And\n\neven then, appearances matter. Be seen doing the heavy lifting. That is\n\nfront and center to ensuring alignment and push for execution. When\n\ntimes are tough, good leaders are with their people more than ever \u2013 in\n\nthe cafeteria, break room and in the work areas. They also may take a\n\nmore public stance, serving as the voice of the company to the outside\n\nworld. When things are rolling smoothly, they are present in another\n\nway, sharing the glory with the team.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n Look Beneath the Surface\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nAppearances, of course, can be misleading. You have only to look at\n\nsome of the rapscallions of business scandals past to get that feeling.\n\nFor example, Jeff Skilling, former president of Enron, cut a handsome\n\nand dashing figure. His boss, Ken Lay, looks positively avuncular, the\n\nkind of guy you\u2019d trust to watch your house if you were out of town.\n\nNeither Skilling nor Lay are business managers that anyone would want\n\nto emulate. Both ruined the fortunes and livelihoods of thousands of\n\npeople, not to mention the shareholder stakes they eroded.\n\nYet the way you as a leader present yourself is critical. It\n\naffects your ability to connect in a way that is authentic and leads\n\npeople to give you the benefit of the doubt. Every leader must earn\n\ntrust, but the door to trust can only be opened if people are willing\n\nto give you a second look, or better yet a long look and a good listen.\n\nThat is why appearances matter. So go ahead and buy that new suit, If\n\nit makes you feel more in control and in command then by all means, go\n\nfor it. But keep in mind that what\u2019s inside the suit matters more. And\n\ndon\u2019t forget to smile once in awhile, too.