But it turns out that may not be enough to get you the corner office–you also need to look the part.
As major corporations like Intel and Morgan Stanley start to recognize the importance of the “it factor” when it comes to employees at the management and executive levels, the practice of coaching executives (and wannabe execs) on appearance and presence is a growing business.
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Stefanie Smith, head of Stratex Consulting, a New York City-based coaching firm, told The Wall Street Journal that 75% of her business consists of improving clients’ image–from how to dress better to how to appear more decisive in meetings.
But beyond these “coachable” attributes, physical qualities–from weight to hair to facial structure–also play a big part in how executives are perceived. We take a look at seven shallow characteristics that may affect how competent you appear to co-workers. Prepare to be shocked!
What People Look for in a Male Executive …
1. Slim, Trim and Fit
A study conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership found that execs with larger waistlines and higher body mass index numbers were perceived as being less effective. In fact, image consultant Amanda Sanders told The Wall Street Journal that carrying extra pounds can imply weakness or a “lack of control.”
The CCL study also showed that executives with BMIs of 25 and under (indicating a person of normal weight) got higher ratings for interpersonal skills and task performance than peers who had BMIs over 25. Additionally, only 5% of CEOs at top U.S. companies are technically obese, although 36% of men in the general population are obese.
2. A More Mature Look
A 2010 study from Duke University, ”A Corporate Beauty Contest,” found that more mature men (as opposed to men with so-called baby faces) were perceived to be more competent, even though no evidence actually showed that they performed better at their jobs. And, interestingly enough, the authors pointed to other research showing that baby-faced men actually tend to be more intelligent than their more mature-looking counterparts.
3. A Bald Head
A Wharton researcher found that men with clean-shaven, bald heads were perceived as more dominant and stronger than men with fuller heads of hair. Several prominent CEOs seem to be benefitting from the look: Venture capitalist Marc Andreesen, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and Amazon CEO Jeffrey Bezos all sport clean-shaven pates.
Note: Sorry, guys, but balding hair doesn’t have the same effect–men with patchy, thinning locks were perceived as the least powerful in the same study.