C-Suite Network™

The Visual Language of a Leader

The Elements of Leadership

There is no doubt that communication is a strong pillar of leadership. Leaders are entrusted with communicating the vision and goals of the organization. Everything communicates. Everything a person does, says, and wears has consequences. These either strengthen the brand and message, or they diminish it.

In my book, I.C.U., The Comprehensive Guide to Breathing Life Back Into Your Personal Brand, I talk about my concept of how all elements of each language – visual, body, spoken, and written – act together as a single unit to create what I call The Image Language™. The visual language of a leader is just as important as their body language and their verbal and written skills.

How You Communicate Your Inner Persona

Have you thought about how you are communicating your inner persona through your outward appearance? Have considered the message that is sent by your visual language, meaning how you look and what you wear?

As humans, we are wired to interpret things visually first. When we look at others, our brains start to gather data into who you are from a visual aspect. Think of your appearance as your logo. Just as the design and color of a logo send a message about the company, your clothing choices and grooming habits do the same. They are the first filter into who you are and give clues to what you believe. Think of clothing in terms of visual data. They help others make sense of who a person is and what they stand for.

Your Style as a Leader

When you are in a highly visible role, how you present yourself becomes vital. Leaders need to present themselves in a way that is cohesive to their roles and goals. Those in leadership positions are looked up to by their team. They are trusted colleagues to their peers, and they are often the face of the company to its customers.

As a society, we expect leaders to look a certain way, such as wearing conservative clothing and often in the color blue. There is tension between being overdressed, causing you to appear stuffy or rigid, and that of being underdressed that can send a message that you are not taking your position seriously.

Your style as a leader is dependent on an array of factors, such as industry. For example, a leader in the tech industry may lean more towards a casual style than someone in the financial sector. The other factors that come into play are geographic location, customer base, and generational views.

Creating Your Signature Look

The first place to start is to create a signature look, similar to how Steve Jobs did with the black turtleneck, Hillary Clinton has done by selecting pantsuits, and Mark Zuckerberg with the hoodie. Being consistent in your appearance reduces stress, saves brainpower to be used for more important decisions later in the day, and creates trust with those you come in contact.

Here are my three power plays for anyone in a leadership role:

  1. Select quality over quantity. Always buy the very best you can afford. A few examples, it is better to invest in a Craig Shelly timepiece versus buying five lower-end watches. Shoes are one of the main ways a person makes judgments about another’s status. So owning a pair of Prada shoes versus several low-quality ones will serve you well, and likely last longer.
  2. Incorporate the third piece. Adding a third piece to your outfits, such as a blazer or cardigan, always elevates your look.
  3. Invest in a tailor. Your best friend should be your tailor. The more you can tailor clothing to fit all aspects of your body, the higher end your outfit will appear, and you will look more powerful and confident. If you can invest in made-to-measure or bespoke, opt for that.

Being well dressed in your signature style brings trust and clarity to your message as a leader.

Are you ready to look and feel confident wherever you are? If so, contact me at sheila@imagepowerplay.com to schedule a 20-minute call to discuss how we can work together to grow your visibility and influence through my return on image® services.

More Articles by Author