As a Certified Image Consultant, I’m asked by clients whether I offer training and coaching on leadership development. I’d always reply affirmatively, “Yes, of course, I can do executive presence and leadership branding, executive etiquette and communication, and power dressing”. This affirmation drives home the point that image and leadership development come hand in hand. Image is all about perception. For a leader to be perceived as one, image enhancement does the trick. But don’t think that image enhancement is just for show. It requires integral self-development through the ABCDs of image: Appearance, Behavior, Communication and Digital Presence.
Your image and brand as a leader will unleash your executive presence. Executive presence is how you’re perceived as a leader: the way you act (gravitas), speak, stand, walk and dress. You’ll radiate executive presence if you possess the traits of a credible leader. Among these traits, gravitas (bearing or weight) stands out. “There are six elements of gravitas critical to leadership: grace under fire, decisiveness, emotional intelligence and the ability to read a room, integrity and authenticity, vision that inspires others, and a stellar reputation.” (Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Executive Presence, The Missing Link Between Merit and Success)
Executive presence in the new future is even more crucial for leaders. It entails establishing digital presence at virtual engagements and on social media. For virtual meetings, the focus is on your face, upper body and voice. Thus, you need more effort to groom and dress professionally and to take care of your voice projection. Non-verbal communication also matters – eye contact, the forward movement and appropriate hand gestures. Whether you are interacting with others in person or virtually, always keep in mind the principles of etiquette: respect, consideration for others and loyalty, and you’ll never go wrong.
Through leadership branding training and coaching, you can be empowered to develop your personal brand and harness your identity, talents and credibility. Knowing your competitive edge will make you stand out among your peers. This will allow you to craft your leadership brand statement or tagline. In my case, my brand tagline is also my business brand: Flair Image. As an Image Consultant, I always want to project my image with Flair. Authenticity and credibility are values worth emulating in promoting your leadership branding on social media.
Once you defined your leadership brand, you can work on enhancing your personal style as style is the visualization of your brand. Style is consistency in projecting your leadership and personal traits, and values through your choice of clothes, colors and accessories.
With all that said, you need conviction to purposely enhance your leadership branding and create executive presence. Let’s keep in mind that “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that the impact lasts in your absence.” (Shelly Sandberg, COO, Meta Platforms)