We’ve all heard the old adage, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” and I think most of us would agree this is a good idea – within reason. Dressing like your next stage of career development gives others the opportunity to see you in that role. But clothing is not enough. We also have to behave like we would in the job we want to make the effort more than just a costume.
Humans are social animals and, even with all these years of evolution, we still respond to some very primitive status behaviors. Just check out what Mark Bowden shows us in his well-watched TedTalk on the subject of trust and first impressions. Being able to recognize and incorporate some of the more sophisticated and positive high-status behaviors can allow us to begin to project that higher status – and greater executive presence – in the minds of important stakeholders.
Here are some tips:
- Observation: It’s helpful for those with whom I work to become keen observers of what behaviors they see in leaders whom they respect and admire.
- Breakdown/Analysis: What are the behaviors and how/when do they come out? Where would these be appropriate to employ with regularity* in the workplace?
- *Regularity: How can we transition these behaviors into habit? What reminders can we put in place? Establishing new behaviors isn’t very impactful if we don’t do them predictably, regularly to burnish our reputation. If I’m on time and prepared for every meeting, I earn the reputation as someone who respects the time of others and takes my contributions seriously. I encourage a positive expectation from those with whom I work and when I’m given greater responsibility, it is trusted that I will handle it with care.
- Feedback: What feedback can we solicit, and from whom? My clients and I discuss the best sources for feedback and, importantly, how to ask for it in a way that make people want to support the effort. The right request also insures that what is received is actually useful.
Status isn’t a dirty word when it’s earned and wielded responsibly. For our purposes, status = executive presence and having it can mean the difference between moving up and stagnating.