October 19


Do You Look Like a Leader?

According to research from the Center for Talent Innovation, your executive presence is based on three factors:

  • 05% – Image (how you look)
  • 28% – Communication (how you speak)
  • 67% – Gravitas (how you act)


Let’s spend two minutes talking about why image matters. 5% might sound like a small number but it packs a big punch!


Image is the first credibility hurdle you must pass professionally.


People should not be so distracted by your image that they are not able to hear the message you’re trying to communicate. You inevitably hold yourself back when this happens.


The culture of your organization impacts how others view your executive presence and whether your image is appropriate for the environment or not. Always tailor your appearance to the culture. Executive presence does not ask you to compromise who you are. You can be authentic and have a signature style while still fitting in with the organization.


I recently had a conversation with 40 leaders who run million dollar businesses in sales. I asked them their opinion on image derailers and best practices. Here is what they shared:



  • clothing too tight
  • clothing too baggy
  • clothing too revealing
  • clothing too wrinkled
  • excessive makeup
  • clothes/shoes you would wear to the club
  • looking unkempt
  • lack of proper hygiene
  • visible tattoos



  • dress to the culture of the organization
  • wear clothes tailored to your body type
  • darker colored jeans look more professional
  • well groomed
  • only have 1 signature item piece


As Sylvia Ann Hewlett states in her book, Executive Presence, “cracking the appearance code opens doors and puts you in play…when you make an effort to look polished, you signal to others that you see them as worth your time and investment.”

Looking good is a matter of perspective and it can be hard for us to be objective about ourselves. Ask for feedback. Don’t let your appearance take away from your intellect. You are meant to stand out, but you have a credibility issue when people are talking more about your appearance than your ideas. Style is more than what you wear! It is also about the words you use, the way your presence makes others feel, and the approach you take when driving results as a leader.


Are you standing out for the right reasons?


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