Intelligent leaders aim to create great first impressions through their appearances. Leadership coaching can help leaders realize the importance of leadership presence and develop it as a leadership skill. First impressions may sometimes be misleading, but we have scientific proof that we can learn much about people from their appearances alone.

“Appearances are a glimpse of the unseen.” – Anaxagoras.

We’re all genetically programmed to judge those around us based on their appearances. We can’t help it, even though common wisdom holds that appearances can be misleading, and there’s a reason why we can’t help it.

“We do not see people as they are, but as they appear to us.” – Robert Greene. 

When we don’t know someone, what we see is the only information we can gather about them. That’s all we have to formulate a first impression, As shallow as they may be, first impressions matter.

A leader-like appearance makes you more of a leader. 

Leadership coaching understands the power of first impressions and that of a professional, leader-like appearance. If you dress as a successful leader, you make a self-fulfilling prophecy. You feel more like a leader and behave more like one. Thus, you’re more likely to succeed as one.

The Power of the First Impression

We all strive to look our best. We have a strong bias towards attractive people, deeming them more competent, honest, and diligent due to what psychology has named “the halo effect.”

With all the superficiality of first impressions, science has shown we can glean a surprising amount of information from a photograph of a person.

  • The symmetry of a person’s face defines, to a great extent, whether we perceive them as attractive.
  • From facial clues, we can deduce height, and we associate height with leadership ability.
  • Facial structure betrays strength and aggressiveness. We feel strong people are more likely to lead well.
  • We can tell by the facial structure of a person how trustworthy they are.
  • Facial features give us clues about a person’s health. For example, wrinkled skin can be an indication of heart disease.

Researchers also believe facial structures give us clues about certain people’s leadership styles.

  • A wide face may be a clue that a leader has a proclivity for risk-taking and may be a better steward of resources in times of crisis.
  • In addition to height, we like physically fit leaders. Physical fitness translates to health and denotes a degree of self-control and discipline we always welcome in leaders.

Leadership Coaching and Executive Presence

Executive coaching understands and values the concept of executive presence. Knowing executive presence is a skill we can develop with due persistence and dedication, executive coaching professionals also understand its subtleties.

Leadership is about inspiring trust and confidence in others. Business coaching specialists know inspiring people starts with a leader’s appearance. Those with positive leadership presences build leadership capital through the first impressions they induce in others.

Those with negative leadership presences must overcome negative first impressions before they begin building leadership capital.

Leadership presence defines leaders’ access to opportunities. A person whose presence inspires trust and competence may get more opportunities in an organization than someone others perceive as shifty or incompetent.

leadership presence

Leadership presence creates opportunities. 

Building a Leadership Presence

Business coaching can help executives develop leadership presence as they would develop any other leadership skill. Here’s what leaders can do in this sense:

  • Have compelling visions and communicate them well. People are naturally drawn to leaders who know what they want and where an organization is going. Formulating robust, relatable purposes sets leaders apart and lends them uniquely attractive presences.
  • Understand how others perceive them. Emotional intelligence allows leaders to see the world through the eyes of others. As leaders climb the ladders of organizational ranks, they grow more reliant on others for their success.
  • Ensure their leadership presences don’t devolve into distractions. A strong leadership presence is not about looking like a fashion model. Being clean-cut, fit, and wearing appropriate clothing is enough to give leaders strong appearances and create good first impressions.

First impressions matter, as does leadership presence. For intelligent leaders, appearance is an important opportunity to inspire others and win trust.


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