January 20, 2014
Your leadership image could affect your career
It's the New Year -- a great time to take a fresh look at your career and determine ways to develop it.
Want to improve your leadership effectiveness? Consider the image you project in the workplace. Your effectiveness as a leader is tied to your image, according to the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL).
A CCL study of 150 executives showed that "the image leaders portray correlates highly with perceptions of their leadership skills." If you want to be seen as a strong leader, focus on demonstrating your competence in these seven areas:
• Leading change
• Speaking dynamically
• Strategic planning
• Thinking ahead (being visionary)
• Inspiring commitment
• Creative/original thinker
• Improving executive image
What is image? Basically, it's the perception others form about you as a result of your actions, as well as the impressions you make on them.
Many things, such as your "personality, behavior, body language and speaking style, as well as formal status and physical appearance," can create your image. Your image can also have a tremendous impact on people as they get to know you. Here are a few tips from CCL on ways to manage your image:
Gain a clear picture of how people perceive you. Our perceptions of ourselves often don't match the perception others hold of us. Take the time to ask for feedback to help identify gaps and areas for improvement.
Decide on the image you want to project. Do you have your eye set on becoming an executive, or would you like to be seen as a brainy project manager or programmer? Think about the image you want to project and what it will take for others to see you that way. Consider your attire, hairstyle, verbal and nonverbal communication.
Develop skills and take steps to close the gaps. This might include improving your speaking or writing abilities, choosing to be more open and showing people other sides of yourself, or investing in updating your wardrobe.
Be willing to reveal your personality and humanness. People like leaders who are authentic. Part of improving your image might include being confident enough to let co-workers and management see your personality and creativity.
With a little research and thought, you can create the image you want and work on developing your career at the same time.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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