When you read a novel the author gives you a jigsaw of words from which you quickly form and visualise a character, a good author will within a chapter or so have made you visualise a very detailed set of characters and environments. How often when you have gone to see the movie of a book you have read do you find yourself comparing the actor with the character you synthesised in your mind. Sometimes we even subconsciously cast a real life actor as we read. So what does this tell us? It tells us that as people we prefer to build a character around the information we have and where we don’t have all the information we complete it ourselves.
Watching your every move
Do you run a company or a large team? If you do its really important to remember that everyone in your company or team will feel that they know you as a character even if you have never even had a conversation with them. They will have built up a subliminal picture of your character from the information they have available.
They do this from the way that you talk to people in the corridor, the way you act in meetings, your punctuality, the tidiness of your office and whiteboard. Your visual presentation, are your shoes clean, are your clothes pressed, are your ties designs and colours pitched at the right level and are they in great condition? What car do you drive, do you have children, dogs, cats, do you play golf, squash, tennis or badminton? A lot of the character that your people build up is also based upon visual cues, what do they see you doing, do you greet people with a genuine smile, is your office door open when you are not in meetings? Do you lose your temper? You will only have had to do this once or twice and people will remember it and it becomes anecdotal and is passed on to new employees by the others as part of the informal induction!
From this you will recognise that to be a great leader you need to not only make great business decisions you need to think about your character presentation too. Remember your people are always watching you. If you have had a bad weekend with family issues don’t bring that demeanour into the office, people will pick it up within seconds and you will actually affect productivity with your mood.
10 Tips to be a Highly Effective Visual leader
- Always dress just slightly better than everyone else. Avoid being pretentious at all costs, so for men avoid super expensive suits and watches and ladies keep that obviously mega expensive handbag for the evening or weekend. Pitch it right, just slightly better.
- Make sure you always greet people with a genuine smile and say hello in the mornings and goodnight at the end of the day.
- Don’t take your Ferrari to the office it’s ostentatious, don’t adorn your office wall with pictures of it either. At the same time whatever you do drive people will notice so pitch it just slightly better again and keep it clean and tidy and conform like others when you park.
- Don’t ever lose your temper in a meeting or in a group, it signals instability and news of it will spread like wildfire.
- Do keep a sense of humour but limit it to seeing the lighter side of things, nobody wants a stand-up comedian in the workplace.
- Socialise with your people and take the initial lead in the bar as you would in business but know when to stop and withdraw, don’t get drunk with the staff or encourage them to.
- Keep your office tidy with a tidy whiteboard and desk.
- Make sure that your meeting papers are organised and complete, keep them in a case or portfolio, don’t be the disorganised one without the minutes of the last meeting or without having read that important report.
- Be nice and courteous to people by default not curt or adversarial again this reputation will spread.
- Be a great communicator when you address your people, don’t be dull and boring, don’t be rambling, stand up straight, walk around the stage, involve the audience, don’t make jokes in your presentation or use profanities. Be smart, be clear, be concise, be inspirational encourage questions and answer them well.