Leaders desire success. To get it, they must have adequate abilities, qualities, and strengths. High achieving leaders set visions, get teams to work in more efficient ways, and communicate effectively. Leaders spend more than half their time with others, sharing their visions and impacting the flow of work. In effect, leaders spend a lot of time communicating, even when they take for granted that they are. Live communication happens through words, sounds, and optics. So, how leaders sound and look support their words. A secret that most men interested in leadership do not know is that using style creates competent male leaders, too.
Men often overlook style. Look no further than in office and co-working spaces, where men’s looks have hit rock bottom. Men who forego fashionable elegance and grooming practices lose out on the benefits of a very powerful and effective tool. Facial expressions, gestures, posture, and appearance – all nonverbal elements – make up 55% of all communication. That’s not a statistic to ignore. But, most male leaders lack presence. And this is not good for business or for creating success.
Cultivating a personal style won’t make a man less manly. This way of thinking attempts to maintain a false narrative that men are above appearance, and therefore, above women. It is time that men move past this limited thinking in order to develop into the best versions of themselves. Every man has a chance to lead, whether at work, home, or in the community. A man’s outer presence reflects his inner competence as a leader.
In the dozen plus years I have worked exclusively in Silicon Valley, I have worked with both women and men. Of special note, I have had the incredible luck to work with many powerful women in high tech. There aren’t many female leaders in big high-tech companies. As a result, a disproportionately high percentage of these incredible women have discretely worked with me. They are some of my greatest teachers. They have highly visible positions within their companies, often with hundreds of reports, and spouses and children back at home. And if that’s not all, they bring home the majority, or entirety, of the household income.
They are different from men in many ways, not the least of which is that they have female bodies. Most of all, their ways of thinking and doing are assets of great benefit to their organizations. But, in so many other ways, these female leaders are not so unlike men. Any of them would deny that style was on their radar, for one thing. But, they all wanted to keep on developing their strengths as leaders, who achieved success just by doing great work. Although doing great work brought these women to the forefront of leadership, that alone won’t keep them there. Their leadership presence exemplifies their competence and rallies their teams.
Each experience I’ve ever had supporting a female senior executive has me rooting for them. But, I’ve also always hoped that more male leaders would get over the preconceived notion that style doesn’t matter. As women, rightly so, take on more leadership roles, they show men how to do it with grace and ease.
Using style creates competent male leaders, too, because when it comes to leadership, it’s about being distinctive and inspiring. As more stylish women emerge as leaders, it raises the stakes for men. Style helps to show a leader’s distinctive and inspiring inner qualities. Being a great leader isn’t gender dependent, and neither is using style to become a great leader.
Beauty and fashion brands have marketed to women for decades, whereas, for men this is a more recent development. But, do not confuse style with beauty and fashion. I’m not knocking beauty and fashion. It’s just that style goes much deeper than aesthetics. Style is swagger. Style is an expression of your persona. It’s far beyond presenting yourself with a clean face and in clean clothes. When people see your very essence, they get your message loud and clear. It makes leading easier, more fun, and effective.