The Image of Leadership
Sylvie di Giusto
- - YOU have to create your own professional imprint, which is true to your personality and which works for the duration of your long career.
- - YOU have to appear confident, authentic, professional, and respectful to be perceived as a leader—no matter your height, weight, color, age or gender.
- - YOU have to look like a leader long before you are one.
- - YOU have only 7 seconds to create an imprint of leadership.
- - YOU have to show people your leadership, every day, consistently.
- - YOU —and only YOU— can choose to present yourself as a leader, or not.
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I have a wonderful job. My corporate clients usually welcome me with open arms although my expertise will help them only during an extremely short period of time.
Seven seconds. This is that brief moment when others first lay eyes on your employees, whether it’s at a meeting, on the job or at the point-of-sales.
Organizations dealing face-to-face with customers typically have higher image requirements, because their representatives have to make a powerful first and lasting impression. Otherwise their clients will not only view them, but their products, their services and their entire company in a negative light.
That’s why you need a winning team in any customer-facing unit consisting of highly specialized chameleons – a species with the most genius set of adaption skills and features within the world of reptiles.
1. Chameleons blend in and stand out
It’s a common misconception that chameleons camouflage themselves against a background. In fact, chameleons simply hang out where their “everyday” colors match their surroundings. In other words, green chameleons usually live among green leaves, and brown ones may live on the ground.
Same is true for your representatives. Every industry has some kind of “uniform”. This is not only true for military, retail, tourism, healthcare but also for finance and law, where certain rules exist and simply have to be adapted. Those individuals who represent your company have to blend in with their appearance to a certain level and adjust it to their surroundings as well as those your customers are used to. That doesn’t mean they have to give up their personality and try to be someone they are not. Of course they can stand out, but for the right reasons.
2. Chameleons change for communication purposes
Color change in chameleons has primarily the function of social signaling. Males become bright to show their dominance, females let males know if they are willing to mate. It allows them to get their message across to other chameleons loud and clear.
Our appearance is a form of nonverbal communication as well and one that speaks very loud. What you wear says something about who you are and whom you represent. Is your company’s keyword “luxury” or “low-key”, “flexibility” or “consistency”, “trust” or “fun”, “persistence” or “innovation”? Each of your company’s representatives has to convey this key message with the way they appear and behave – just like a chameleon – without saying a word.
3. Chameleons consider the occasion
Color change in chameleons is also a reaction to other environmental changes like temperature, light, mood and many other conditions.
Your company’s representatives have to appear in various contexts, from the boardroom to the golf course, from Alaska to Florida, from coffee lounge to award-winning restaurants. Occasion is key! There is no reason to wear a business suit on the golf course; just wear perfectly coordinated and fitted golf clothing.
4. Chameleons are aware and in control
Chameleons have the most distinctive eyes and can see in two directions at once. It gives them a 360-degree view, which means 100% control and nothing is left to chance. Individuals who represent your company also need a comprehensive and widespread perspective when determining activities and responsibilities for every day while keeping in mind your clients requirements. Instead of just throwing on something randomly, your representatives should think about:
- – What’s the big picture for today? Which message do I have to deliver?
- – With whom will I interact and what will they be wearing? Who else could I randomly meet today?
- – What will my boss, my colleagues or other team members be wearing?
- – Where are we going to meet? Where are we possibly heading to afterwards?
Sometimes when I describe the necessity of appearing and behaving like a chameleon some people get worried about losing their individuality or being true to themselves. But they quickly understand that a chameleon doesn’t really change. It simply modifies its appearance in the face of various circumstances. A chameleon speaks in a way that demonstrates awareness of the audience and respect for the occasion.
For the chameleon, this often is a matter of survival. Perhaps, that also might be true for your company. To be represented by individuals who understand that their appearance becomes the perceived value of your products and services is crucial for your company’s success.
Book Trailer :: The Image of Leadership
Sylvie di Giusto writes from twenty years of international experience as a human resource professional and as the owner of Executive Image Consulting based in New York City. As a professional speaker, corporate trainer and image consultant, Sylvie shows executives how the combination of ABCDs – Appearance, Behavior, Communication and Digital Footprint – reveals a person’s story, and how that story becomes a company’s reputation. She helps individuals and organizations to explore how people make up their minds very quickly about them, their leadership potential or their entire company, and either open the door or slam it shut. In her book The Image of Leadership she unveils how a positive imprint ultimately boosts the bottom line of any career and business, It’s what captures clients, ensues trust and makes people want to do business with you. Sylvie says: “People packaging is what I do…” It’s as simple as that.