5 of 10: A Modern-Day Leader Dresses for the Influence They Wish to Have

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(10 Principles of Modern-Day Leaders Series)

The paradigm of leadership has shifted over recent decades. With multiple generations in the workplace, a globally connected world, competitive job markets, demand for work/life balance, and fast-moving changes in technology, leaders need to adapt to changes and understand how to effectively connect with those they are leading.

In this ten-part series, we layout ten principles that modern leaders can lead with to be the most effective difference makers they can be.

In Matthew McConaughey’s speech after winning the Academy Award for Best Actor in 2014, he thanked his mother, who was sitting in the audience:

“to my mother, who’s here tonight, who taught me and my two older brothers, demanded that we respect ourselves. And what we in turn learned was then we were better able to respect others.”

We can respect ourselves in many ways, but when we dress the part, comb our hair, keep our shirts tucked in, and splash on a little cologne or perfume, not only are we respecting ourselves, but others will respect us as well, and it can lead to a stronger influence in leading others.

Here are 5 reasons why dressing for our influence makes a difference.

  1. Make a Good First Impression – We only make one first impression, and according to the Science of People website, this first impression stays with us long-term through a process call thin-slicing. “Thin-slicing is when we take a mental snapshot of someone and guess their competence, confidence and likability in less than a second.” It may sound unfair or judgmental, but it’s part of human nature and is known to be a survival mechanism. If we dress well and look the part, the first impression can leave a positive impact.
  2. Boost Your Confidence – Most self-confident people you’ll meet had to work on building their confidence. When we take care of ourselves and are well-dress and well-groomed, we naturally feel better about ourselves and it can boost our energy levels. Plain and simple: when we look good, we feel good.
  3. Lead by Example – If you’re a strong leader within your organization, people are looking to you for guidance. Your actions and your intentions are noticed, and like a child that tends to reflect the actions of an adult they admire, those working for you will follow suit. The way you dress is no exception. They may not follow every fine detail of what you wear and how you dress, but if you show that self-respect and professional attire is a way in which your organization conducts themselves, others will take notice and follow your lead.
  4. Shows You Take Pride in Yourself… - Being well-groomed and professional with your attire shows that you care about yourself and that you won’t be walked over. It makes a statement that you believe in yourself and you’ve taken the time, effort, and energy to let that show.
  5. …And Shows You Take Pride in the Work You Do – It also makes the statement that you conduct your business with the same logic and you expect the same from others. No matter what job you may have, attention to detail is an important attribute with any career and is something employers look for. Dressing nicely is walking proof that you hold this feature.

A man doesn’t need to wear $2,000 suits to dress for influence. A woman doesn’t need to wear $800 dresses, either. Dressing for your influence is about doing the little things that are often free to very little cost. Taking time in the morning to fix your hair. Clipping your nails. Shining your shoes. Shaving or trimming your beard. You can still have your own style and shine with your personal characteristics each day, and we encourage that. But do your best to show that you respect yourself and reflect that through your dressing and grooming habits. Others will notice it. You will feel it.

"[She] demanded that we respect ourselves. And what we in turn learned was then we were better able to respect others." - Matthew McConaughey

"[She] demanded that we respect ourselves. And what we in turn learned was then we were better able to respect others." - Matthew McConaughey

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