There are bountiful resources, platforms, and conversations that guide leaders to explore, define, reflect, and evaluate their authentic leadership. We often think about how we want to show up as authentic leaders; selecting projects, organizations and movements that support our deep values, sincere passions. While there is no simple formula for success either, style is an undoubtedly a factor in that complex equation.
I want to talk about what a leader wears.
Imagine for a moment you enter a room, and seated at a well-appointed table are leadership figures you admire. Your eyes find an empty seat at the table, and you notice a place card with your name on it. As you make your way to your seat, you catch a glimpse of yourself in the surrounding glass. What are you wearing? Why?
There is an assumption that leaders must dress conservatively, dawning a dark color palette and traditional attire. This assumption leads to stifling options when dressing. I often see my clients wearing what they think they "should" versus what they want.
What is your current style? Describe it in three words. What is the style you want? Describe it in three words. Is there a gap? Why? Does your wardrobe tell the truth of who you are as a leader and as a human? Firstly, these two identities are not separate. It takes work but you can be the same person in every room that you enter. That being said, does your wardrobe reflect the type of leader you are? Or is it a template? Are you dressing in a way that honors all that you have accomplished and deserve, or are you hiding?
Women continue to change the corporate landscape, and within the context navigating that space, I’d like to invite you to explore the opportunity to reshape how professionalism looks and feels for you. I’ve learned that it is entirely possible to walk the worlds of colorful and collected. You can, most definitely, dress in your way while honoring a dress code, always. I’ve also learned that it’s not just our imagination; there is a real power in those times where you know you’re looking good. In fact, according to the Journal of Experimental Science, “enclothed cognition” describes the very real linkages of how style and clothes reflect our mood, health, and confidence. Important to note, it impacts your BEHAVIOR not just your mood. It’s absolutely necessary to have clothes in your stylistic arsenal that give you power. It’s the reason we’ll never catch Wonder Woman fighting crime in the clothes of Diana Prince. Thing is, you deserve to walk to your seat in a look that has you feeling poised, confident, comfortable, and an attitude set to “Ready.” When you think about your current wardrobe of work/life- what does it say? Does your wardrobe command colors, textures, and vibrancy in an unspoken declaration of you?
Getting better acquainted with the unique elements of your personal style is much like leadership itself- it’s a process that evolves over time. By design, both naturally adapt and change. New insight gives way to new discoveries. While there are many paths to discovering your style, I suggest sitting with yourself, asking the tough questions with kindness, radical honesty and then wearing what you want to wear.
So when the time comes, and it will, when you are taking your place at the table of influence that you’ve solved for your own certain panache, because it’s only yours to discover.
Now is the time to dress for the truth of who you are.
So, what does a leader wear?
You tell me.