Appearance & Personal Benchmarking

Executive Presence: Appearance 

 Sherpa’s Definition of Appearance:  “Attire that meets work environment’s norms, stimulates respect, and is approachable.”

The image you project is related to self-respect and first impressions. Appearance has an impact on the people around you. What does your appearance say about the organization? What does your appearance say about you?

This applies to you, of course. It applies to everyone. If one of your direct reports is not showing their best self, you will have to deal with their appearance. It is often an awkward situation, because dealing with someone who is dressed inappropriately is very personal.

Here is one of our tools to help improve your appearance and your executive presence. As mentioned above, this tool can also be used if you are struggling with a direct report or co-worker with appearance issues.

Personal Benchmarking

What is benchmarking?

Benchmarking means finding external sources that represent best practices within a given industry or sector, then comparing ones’ own products, services and processes against them. The purpose? To learn from others’ success, so we can improve existing quality standards.

What is personal benchmarking?

In our context, business appearance, Personal Benchmarking involves learning what others are doing, what works effectively in our organization and then making necessary changes to adjust our approach and our appearance. Personal Benchmarking is not only about comparing yourself with others.  It also involves reflecting on your own business appearance and understanding why others have better alignment and greater success than we do.

One of the great advantages of Personal Benchmarking is that we develop our external references, based on what we know is working well in our culture and context. We have seen firsthand the benefits of these appearance attributes in our own environment.

Personal Benchmark Benefits

Personal Benchmarking is something every manager should do to promote self-discovery. It’s also a valuable tool to analyze and therefore understand, a corporate culture and its values. This process of analyzing successful references or benchmarking is something that undeniably pushes people to innovate, evolve, improve and get better results.

The common denominator in any action plan or individual development plan should be setting up successful points of reference.  In this way, we could find which areas of our business appearance have higher value or need greater attention. Personal Benchmarking not only gives you information about attributes of successes, but also about attributes of failures. This creates understanding and advantage.

Reasons for Personal Benchmarking

There are many reasons that can lead us to do a Personal Benchmarking, but we should focus on those that can help us:

  • Increased self-awareness: Do we have a personal vision about our business appearance? A competitive strategy to improve it? Certainty that we are sending the right message or showing up with intention?
  • Inspiration: Knowing what other successful managers or leaders do in terms of their business appearance does not mean we have to copy or imitate their personal styles. It simply gives us the right references and motivation to improve ours.
  • Positioning ourselves: By changing our business appearance, can we reach and connect with more people? Can we expand our presence and influence by improving our appearance? Can we be more competitive and effective by working on appearance?
  • Edge: Knowing what is desired and rewarded in our organization could give us information, standards and role models that can help us get ahead of competitors.
  • Understanding our corporate culture: We gain a broader view of our organization, its values and leadership traits by seeing what is promoted and rewarded in terms of appearance and personal styles.

Questions to reflect on our business appearance:

  • Is my appearance a limitation or is it a strength?
  • What are the benefits of improving my appearance?
  • If I don’t improve my appearance, what will it cost me?
  • What am I willing to do to improve my appearance?
  • What is the first step I need to take?
  • Who can help me with this?

Take some time to reflect. Start observing firsthand the benefits of these appearance attributes in your own environment once you put them into action. Take ownership of your Personal Benchmarking practices today.

Like what you just read? This is an excerpt from Dr. Alex Marquez and Brenda Corbett’s Executive Presence: Appearance workbook. This workbook will be available in 2021. You can purchase this workbook along with the rest of the Executive Presence series workbooks here.

Be sure to join us on January 28th for our Virtual Executive Summit to learn more about our Executive Presence series of 10 separate traits. In addition, you’ll deep dive in to the trait of your choice with six individual, one hour coaching sessions with a Sherpa Author/Coach. Click here for more information.

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