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It is in your appearance

When I first started out in sales, my boss decided that I was to take up golf. His view was that, in sunny South Africa, being a golfer would enable me to network and lead to relationships that would result in more sales. He was right. He was also clear from the outset that I had to look like a golfer, so he personally accompanied me to a golf professional store one day to oversee the clothes, shoes, bag and kit that I chose. He was the ideal boss, because he also got me membership of a golf club and instructed me to attend the club every Wednesday – the only rule was that I had to make sure that I was there with a client or potential client.

Although I had dabbled in golf up till that point, I had never really felt like a golfer. And the first time I stepped out onto the course in my matching golf outfit and kit – to my surprise – I really did feel like a golfer, and I carried myself with much more confidence simply because I looked the part.

There is a lot of truth in the need to look the part. People do judge you on your appearance, which is the first filter through which you communicate. Looking like a leader is the first step to becoming one. If you want to portray executive presence, you must have a degree of gravitas and excellent communication skills as well as a polished appearance. Personal grooming matters a great deal. Many of the leaders I interviewed specifically told me that they looked at personal grooming and were swayed enough to decide against candidates very quickly if they did not come up to standard. This does not mean having to wear a suit if the company culture is for casual clothing, but it does mean making sure that you don’t have unkempt attire – wrinkled, dirty or too tight clothing. Clean nails, shiny shoes, manicured nails and a good haircut all send signals. Be aware and take more care.

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