THRIVE: Control, Acceptance, and Letting Go

THRIVE: Control, Acceptance, and Letting Go

Going to discouraging or negative places is natural when coping with an intense life challenge such as critical illness. But how long do you allow yourself to stay there? Can you think of a time when you were in a hard place and all of a sudden, your mood or outlook spontaneously changed for the better? Perhaps you were deep in the flow of your work, out for a walk, or even doing some housework.

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Leadership, positive emotions, and making a difference

Leadership, positive emotions, and making a difference

How often are you or someone around you negative about society, other people, or the world in general?  If only you had the power to change things.  If only you had money like Bill Gates, you could make a difference in life.  Well, the truth is that you can make a difference in this world…and it doesn’t have to cost a thing.

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Positive Emotions, Leadership, and the Bottom Line

Positive Emotions, Leadership, and the Bottom Line

According to well-documented research from both the Gallup Organization and the Hay Group, roughly 50 to 70 percent of how employees perceive their organization’s climate can be traced to the actions of one person—the leader. More than anyone else, the person in charge creates the conditions and reinforces the tone-from-the-top that directly affect people’s moods at work and ultimately their ability to perform for themselves, their teams, and the organization.

A positive climate protects the bottom line by protecting the organization's reputation; reducing employee turnover; preventing incidents of workplace violence and harassment and complaints involving Human Rights and Ministry of Labour; protecting the business owners and leaders from personal liability. Hence, an authentic positive climate requires a conscious daily moment-by-moment commitment beyond town-hall meetings, team-building events, and rah-rah meetings.

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Your Personal Presence: Image Matters

  • Average reading time: Approximately 4 minutes

Good News! Plastic Surgery Not Required

Personal presence is key to getting promotions, sales, and business results. In the end, character and communication skills are more important, but first impressions count very much.

Your Image Matters

personal imageThe good news is that attention to polish and grooming can enhance your perceived attractiveness. You do not need genetic re-engineering, or money, or plastic surgery. To be perceived taller, you can stand tall, walk tall, and sit tall by adjusting your posture and using larger gestures.

Carefully observe those you know who make the best of their appearance. Ask them what they do. What are their rules or “best practices” for choosing wardrobe or makeup?

As an example, I always wear a jacket, classic jewelry, and closed-toe shoes for business meetings and functions. As much as I admire fashion and love to experiment with new looks, I forego trends that may negatively impact the expectation of consistency, professionalism and credibility.

My ten-year-old niece, Marissa, knows that image matters. During a summer shoe-shopping excursion, she commented that she understood why I steered toward close-toed shoes. “They’re more professional AND safe”, she said. As much as we both admired the stylish summer sandals, we both agreed on the taboos.

You can still update your look to stand out and appear progressive without being a slave to brands and trends. You’d be surprised at the effects on how you’re perceived!

Good Packaging

When choosing a product in a store, our eyes are drawn to packaging that’s well-designed yet useful in that it tells us what to expect. Our exterior selves are no different, albeit more complex. Think about the image you want to project and start with the end in mind.

In addition to wardrobe, consider all the accessories that complete the picture: your notebook, writing instruments, briefcases. When you open up your carrying case, is it messy and unorganized? Does it take too long for you to find a necessary file, your phone, or your business cards?

Your desk and workspace build on the impression you make on others. If you have a meeting at work, how do others see you, based on your visible organizational skills? What do your personal items communicate?

Consider how your personal presence extends to your surroundings. Even the condition of your car (cleanliness and tidiness, not the make, model and year) demonstrates how much you care about the little things that make a big difference.

“The ‘little’ things can make a big difference in landing a job, getting a promotion, winning a contract, or leading an organization through change.”

~ Dianna Booher, Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader

Personal and Professional Etiquette

In the 1999 movie, “Blast from the Past”, Adam (Brendan Fraser) is quoted as saying that good manners are just a way of showing other people we have respect for them. I often paraphrase this quote when explaining why manners are an integral part of the total image we project, both personally and professionally. People like to be with, associate with, and do business with people who show respect and make them feel valued and comfortable.

You can make a better first and lasting impression. It starts with appearance and is enhanced with manners.

If you haven’t worked with a coach on your personal presence and executive presence, consider the return-on-investment. You may not be aware of how you come across to others. In my work as an executive coach, my clients and I cover all aspects of personal presence and executive presence.

What do you think about this?

  1. What are your best practices for personal presence?
  2. When did you last update your professional appearance?
  3. What image do you want to project? What image are you projecting? Are there gaps or disconnect?

I’d love to hear from you. Tell me about the challenges and successes you have with making a great first impression and making it stick. Your comments are welcome. You can also contact me at patricia@maestroquality.com, at 905-858-7566, on LinkedIn, or on Maestro’s Facebook page.

 The conversation moves on to motivation in the next blog post:

  • Motivate without Over-Managing. Have business leaders lost sight of what truly motivates people in the present-day workplace? Are they ignoring the obvious: Incentives and rewards don’t work anymore. Are they ready to embrace “intrinsic motivation”?

Books and Audiobooks:

Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success, Sylvia Ann Hewlett

Available Kindle Edition. Available on iTunes

Photo © Max Riesgo | Fotolia.com

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Your Personal Presence: Grooming Counts

  • Average reading time: Approximately 3 minutes

Shpersonal groomingowing that You Care

How much are you judged on your appearance at work? Surveys can offer some guidelines as to what senior leaders expect.

Sylvia Ann Hewlett of the Center for Talent Innovation surveyed 268 executives and interviewed 4,000 college-educated adults on executive presence, including appearance. More than a third of the executives surveyed considered polish and grooming as most vital to one’s personal presence, ahead of physical attractiveness (less than a fifth). It’s not your body type, height, or weight that matters most; it’s what you do with what you’ve got.

Anyone can improve his or her looks through better grooming habits. While dress standards vary, good grooming signals discipline, competency, good health, and most importantly, that you care.

In a study at Harvard Medical School, judgments about a woman’s competence, likeability, and trustworthiness were affected by how much makeup she wore. The more makeup worn, the higher the women were rated.

When you make an effort to look polished, you signal to others that you see them as worth your time and investment. It announces that you take your work seriously. Senior leaders say that failure to come through on the grooming front implies either poor judgment or lack of discipline.

Rules of Engagement

Achieving polish comes down to minimizing anything that may distract from your skill sets, the message you’re trying to convey, and the changes you want to influence.

While the specifics of dress, makeup, hair, and grooming vary according to geographical and industry contexts, you are wise to make sure your appearance focuses the audience on your competencies rather than acting as a potential distraction.

Women need to avoid dressing in any way that draws overt attention to their sexuality, yet without appearing frumpy. Men need to be aware of group standards for their gender – how formally or informally do others in their audience dress? Is a suit and tie the norm, or will a polo shirt and slacks suffice?

At the same time, each individual needs to be authentic and not just copy others. When you wear clothes that feel uncomfortable, it detracts from your internal confidence.

Attractiveness Counts

There’s much research proving that intrinsically attractive people have an easier time:

  • They get hired more often
  • They earn more (taller people earn $789 more per inch per year)
  • They fare better in justice court sentencing
  • Attractive candidates get more votes
  • Attractive students get more attention from teachers

The fact that beautiful people earn more can be attributed to three things:

  1. They are more confident (in 20% of cases).
  2. They are considered more competent by employers (although this is a wrong assumption in 30% of cases).
  3. They have communication and social skills that enable them to interact well (in 50% of cases).

In the work I do coaching executives and their teams, I’ve found that paying attention to overall appearance goes a long way towards inner confidence for everyone. When you take care of your appearance and grooming, you become more comfortable socially.

What do you think about this?

  1. How important is polish and grooming in your profession and company culture?
  2. What judgments about skills, confidence, capability, and trust do you make based on appearance?
  3. Are your employees dressing appropriately to focus on their competencies rather than creating distractions?

I’d love to hear from you. Tell me about the challenges and successes you have with the personal presence of people you lead. Your comments are welcome. You can also contact me at patricia@maestroquality.com, at 905-858-7566, on LinkedIn, or on Maestro’s Facebook page.

The conversation on Personal Presence continues in the next blog post:

  • Your Personal Presence: Image Matters. Good news! Attention to polish and grooming can enhance your perceived attractiveness. Plastic surgery not required.

Books and Audiobooks:

Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success, Sylvia Ann Hewlett

Available Kindle Edition. Available on iTunes

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Enhance Your Leadership Presence: Your Personal Presence Matters

  • Average reading time: Approximately 3 minutes

Appearances Matter

professional appearanceOften, the little things are what really count. Like it or not, first impressions do matter. Remember Malcolm Gladwell’s blockbuster book Blink, back in 2007? The author stresses how quickly we decide to like or dislike someone. Our brains size people up in less than 250 milliseconds.

While character and communication skills including expressing your passionate purpose and matching powerful words and nonverbal behaviours are key, you will not influence the people you need to lead if your appearance telegraphs that you’re clueless.

Whether you are an executive up for promotion, an employee seeking more responsibilities, or a parent involved in community or team activities, how you look will open doors and put you in play.

Looking Good, Feeling Capable

There is a visceral connection between looking good and feeling capable. When we look our best, we feel confident. There is research showing a big link between our appearance and whether or not we are perceived as competent or incompetent.

People who appear to take care of their appearance and are well-groomed are perceived by others as more capable, likeable, and even more trustworthy.

Impact of Professional Appearance

Not surprisingly, however, your colleagues, mentors, and even your best friends are reluctant to give feedback on how you should improve your wardrobe, hair, and grooming. Advice on appearance is difficult for anyone to give, even with best interests at heart. At work, it is more perilous to critique appearances, especially to women and minorities. The executives I coach often avoid correcting an employee on matters related to the company’s expectations for professional appearance (aka “dress code”) even when they know the company’s professional reputation and customer-trust is negatively impacted by poor standards in appearance.

Surveys offer some guidelines as to what senior leaders expect. Sylvia Ann Hewlett of the Center for Talent Innovation surveyed 268 executives and interviewed 4,000 college-educated adults on executive presence, including appearance.

According to senior leaders, there are five aspects comprising good appearance:

  1. Being polished and groomed
  2. Being physically attractive, fit, slim
  3. Simple, stylish clothes that position you for your next job
  4. Being tall
  5. Being youthful and vigorous

Which do you think is most important in your work culture?

In the work I do coaching some very competent leaders, you would be surprised how often the topic of their own appearance comes up. Many of us are often uncomfortable discussing this personal and professional topic with peers or even mentors. We may be afraid we will appear unsure of ourselves or clueless if we have to ask.

Standards in Shifting Workplace Cultures

Granted, dress standards do change with the times as the workplace fills with younger generations, ethnic diversity, and overall relaxing of “dress codes”. However, this is no reason to let standards slip to that of the lowest denominator.

What do you think about this?

  1. Are you adapting along with the trends and still remaining appropriate with your personal appearance?
  2. What about those you lead? Is there a standard for professional dress and is the standard embraced and reinforced by your example and counsel when needed?
  3. Or is your workplace like Dilbert’s Casual Day Has Gone Too Far?

I’d love to hear from you. Tell me how you demonstrate that personal presence matters with the people you lead. Your comments are welcome. You can also contact me at patricia@maestroquality.com, at 905-858-7566, on LinkedIn, or on Maestro’s Facebook page.

The conversation on Personal Presence continues in the next blog post:

  • Your Personal Presence: Grooming Counts. An interesting twist on perception. When you make an effort to look polished, you signal to others that you see them as worth your time and investment.

Books and Audiobooks:

Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate and Inspire (Penguin Group, USA, 2004), Kathy Lubar and Belle Linda Halpern. Available on iTunes

Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell. Available on iTunes

Casual Day Has Gone Too Far, A Dilbert Book, Scott Adams. Available on iTunes

Photo © auremar | Fotolia.com

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