Dressing for success

As stated in my first blog post, understanding leadership requires study, practice, and making mistakes. Studying leadership involves a myriad of elements, but after reading an article while searching for content to post on Twitter, it occurred to me that some people do not know a lot of the basics. The referenced article concerns interviews, but the basic ideas contained therein also apply to studying (and later practicing) leadership and management.

The first point of the article talks about generation Y (or the millenials) not dressing appropriately for interviews. I think most people would agree that we enjoy being casual, but, as with all things, there are considerations of time and place for everything and during an interview or in a position of leadership, there are these same considerations for dressing appropriately. When you are in charge of others, or just interviewing for a job, you want to set yourself apart in the way you dress and focus on being professional. The difference does not have to be very different, just enough to separate yourself from the rest.

This distinguishes us from others from the first moment we meet others, in the case of an interview, and from the other employees in your department. I came across this firsthand during my time as a leader in a voluntary organization. The particular organization had uniforms that were optional for wear and after taking charge of it, I chose to wear one during meetings. After several months, I decided not to wear one during a meeting and the amount of comments about it missing I received after the meeting’s conclusion was staggering. Those in charge before me almost never wore a uniform and people said it made them feel like a cohesive group and it signaled to them where to turn when they had questions because it was a distinguishing characteristic. As a historical note, one of the reasons Julius Caesar wore a red cape in battle was to signal to his troops that it was him, where he was, and that he was their leader (not to mention not to attack him because he wasn’t the enemy). It also gives everyone a sense of pride-in their department, in their organization, and in their leader looking and acting the part.

Last thought on this topic is that you do not want to over do it either. You are looking for distinguishable, but not to act above those you’re leading. It’s not to show off, but to inspire and help show others why you’re worth being their decision maker. In the case of the article, it’s to show you’re worth hiring over the others with similar accomplishments and create a lasting memory for the hiring personnel.

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