It only takes 7 seconds for a person to form an impression of you.
What do those seven seconds say about you?
“People Packaging is what I do”, says Sylvie di Giusto who helps individuals and organizations to explore how people make up their minds very quickly about them, their leadership potential, or their company, and either open the door or slam it shut.
Twenty years of corporate experience and her ability to empower people to influence the success of their own career has led to her launching Executive Image Consulting, based in New York City. It’s where she uses her extensive corporate expertise as a professional speaker, corporate trainer and image consultant for professionals, politicians and companies who place great importance in themselves and their powerful appearance. Sylvie is Austrian by birth, French in her heart, Italian in her kitchen, German with her work ethic and American by choice.
Sylvie’s book “The Image of Leadership”, available through Amazon, is the result of her journey through two career paths: one in the field of human resources, the other one as a professional image consultant.
The ABCDs of a Professional Imprint
Have you ever heard of the term “confirmation bias?”
You use it every day without even knowing you are doing so.
Confirmation bias is a powerful force that’s for example used in marketing, sales or politics.
“Confirmation bias” is the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories. It compels a person to ignore any signs that go against their first impression. If a person sees a stain on someone’s shirt or dress, they will look for evidence in their behavior and their communication that will reinforce the evidence provided by the stain that the person is sloppy in their work style.
If a person forms the impression that someone is well groomed, dressed appropriately, and exude confidence, they’ll gladly take additional information—the words that are said, for example—and fit it against the model they have formed in their mind that the person is a leader. If the new information matches, the effects of confirmation bias are multiplied in their favor.
A great example of this is often seen in popular figures in the music industry. They are often scrupulous about the respective images they project to the public. They use confirmation bias to reinforce the intuitive first impressions people get of them. Once someone believes, for example, a certain singer is wild and uninhibited, they assume that just about anything he or she does is a reflection of their wild and uninhibited attitude. The message is conveyed by their total imprint: clothes, hair, makeup, attitude, song lyrics, dance moves. They take the necessary steps to ensure that their public wild-child persona is both vivid and consistent.
So now you may ask, what steps can you take to make sure your inner and outer self reflects leadership qualities? Leadership is never one thing and comes in many forms.
A is for APPEARANCE
Appearance includes every visual element that can be seen and understood in the first seven seconds: physical fitness (or lack thereof), hair and nails, suit and shoes, posture, and eye contact.
In any situation where leaders have only one chance to quickly impress another person—it could be an interviewer, a new boss, a recent addition to a team, or a potential client—it’s important to ensure that leaders create the best first impression. Before they ever utter a word, the other person is going to look at their clothes and immediately decide whether they have dressed appropriately for this occasion. If they show up looking like they got dressed in the dark (for example, a rumpled shirt for men), the chances are good that the other person is going to apply that perception elsewhere. Perhaps they’ll assume that they have a sloppy working style, and that paying attention to details is not their strong suit.
Appearance is a form of nonverbal communication, and one that speaks very loudly.
B is for BEHAVIOR
Behavior includes the sum total of their actions.
It’s their attitude. A leader is an individual who has earned the respect of others and who leads them effectively and in the right direction. A leader’s attitude evokes positive feelings in people. Being a good leader is less about being the smartest and more about understanding others and what makes a team work together to reach solutions
The best leaders will harness the strengths and skills that people have and use them to their best abilities, meeting the demands of the workplace. The best leaders inspire their teams to work hard on a long-term basis.
The visionary leader inspires through exciting ideas, and their teams follow them and are motivated by their enthusiasm and knowledge.
The empathetic leader relates well to others, and is able to relate to and understand their experiences.
The ethical leader abides by rules about behavior, with every employee adhering to these rules and the workplace becoming a moral environment.
Whether they inspire their team by providing a sympathetic ear or by setting a positive example, a good attitude helps a leader reach those goals and ultimately win over others. Great leaders listen to their staff and understand how to make the workplace a happier, as well as more productive, environment.
Leaders with positive attitudes find that their followers appreciate the personal connection, whether it’s through empathy, vision or reward systems, and that ultimately people respond much better to someone who empowers them.
C is for COMMUNICATION
Communication is sharing information and ideas between individuals or groups to reach a common understanding.
With so many personalities, ideas, and an overload of information in the workplace, effective communication is a challenge for business owners, CEOs, managers, and employees. Effective communication is a business tool and essential employee attribute.
A company knows that in order for its objectives to be met, communication is the key to success. Communication links and facilitates all aspects of a company. When all members of a team, department, and workplace communicate effectively together, then productivity increases, a better workplace environment is created, and objectives are met more efficiently.
Communication is not only important in the workplace, but for the company when dealing with partners, clients, and vendors. The way leaders communicate sets a precedent for the company; therefore, their communication needs to be clear, persuasive, and concise. If they can learn to openly and effectively communicate, they will set themselves apart and opportunities will come their way more frequently.
D is for DIGITAL FOOTPRINT
A digital footprint is how leaders present themselves on the Internet. As we move into the twenty-first century, this factor that once existed only in science fiction is becoming increasingly important. Like it or not, the Internet and social media provide new avenues for both advancing a professional imprint and for incurring damage to a reputation.
Online digital reputations have never been more important. While years ago much of our personal information was considered private, today our digital reputations expose more information about our lives than ever before, and information about almost all adult Americans can be found online. Online digital reputations define how people perceive one another without ever having a single conversation with that person.
The fact is, a digital reputation can be incorrect, it may present only partial information, and it might even allow for slander and online attacks to define someone. The Internet consolidates information about people, their family, their friends, and their business, and delivers that information through a simple search query. This information can have a lasting presence online, permanently impacting almost anyone. Leaders often check their digital reputation and as they review their online digital reputation, they make sure that their findings reflect the reputation they’d like to share with the world, with current and future employers, colleagues, friends, and family members.
They know that their online reputation can be a determining factor for hiring or being offered that important initial interview. They look at their internet profile as a second self, the one they want everyone to know in addition to their real self.
Written by Sylvie Di Giusto