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Dealing with Bosses and Coworkers/Advantage of looking like a boss?


Dear Sir,

Nowadays when choosing a leader at a company, whether at a department level (head, team leader) or at the highest level (CEO, chairman), are the board convinced by the appearance of the applicant? Someone who looks like 'a boss'. It is difficult to describe, but maybe someone who is tall, charismatic?

My question is based on the assumption that many of these 'charismatic' people do not necessarily make a good leader. But do their look give them a great advantage?

Thank you

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for writing to me.

Your question is too complicated to be answered with a simple "yes" or "no". Nothing is ever straightforward, but there are probably three things anyway that govern these decisions more than any of the others.

1. Unless the candidate is a member of the family in a family-owned business, and even then there are no guarantees, no one is considered for a job at that level without having proved that he or she is capable of doing it. This is true whether that person comes from another job, or has been working within the same company.

2. Candidates need to be able to influence people. My definition of a leader is that he/she has willing followers. If people follow because they're afraid, for any reason, then no one is leading. But far too many managers do tyrannise those who work for them.

3. Appearance matters

There's a little book that you might find of interest. It's called Amusing Ourselves to Death , by Neil Postman. Among other things, he talks about how many of America's presidents would not have been elected if they would have appeared on television. Chester Arthur, I think, weighed 300lbs. Can you imagine a corpulent President of the United States today?

We know that interviews alone are ineffective for selecting people who are most likely to be successful in new jobs. That's because the decision to hire the vast majority of them is within 30 seconds of them coming into the room.

It has to do with appearance mostly.

So to answer your original question - yes, appearance is important, but in senior jobs that factor alone won't get anyone the job.

Dealing with Bosses and Coworkers

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Dr Bruce Hoag, CPsychol AFBPsS


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Co-wrote (with Professor Cary L Cooper, CBE) Managing Value-Based Organizations: It's Not What You Think, published in 2006.

Academy of Management, British Psychological Society

Leadership & Organization Development Journal,

PhD, Organizational Psychology, Manchester Business School

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Chartered Occupational Psychologist & Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society; Ezines Expert Author

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