Most of us are potential leaders. Most of us have an idea in us that could make a positive change – whether to our local community, our national community or the global community. But many of us do not recognise the potential of our ideas or do not have the perseverance to take our idea forward. Therefore, there are those who have the ideas and those who manage the physical requirements to make the idea a success. Both leaders and managers are essential for the germination of an idea into the fruition of a successful project.
Stephen Covey illustrates the difference between the two roles,
“…envision a group of leaders cutting their way through the jungle with machetes. They’re the leaders, the problem solvers. They’re cutting through the undergrowth, clearing it out.
The managers are behind them, sharpening their machetes, writing policy and procedure manuals, holding muscle development programs, bringing in improved technologies and setting up working schedules and compensation programs for machete wielders.” (COVEY, S (2004) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)
A good manager ensures that the equipment is in place to enable their team to work to their full potential. Clothes that convey authority, perhaps with an approachable element, will be the most appropriate attire for a good manager. The manager doesn’t need to stand out, she simply needs to be easily recognised as authoritative within a group.
A leader should stand out. If a leader wants others to follow her, she must be easily identified. A leader will be convinced of the superiority of her idea, she will be confident of future success and her clothes should convey that confidence. I believe that a person’s confidence can be conveyed through their appearance simply by staying true to themselves.
*The dress-down appearance of the Silicone Valley gang was not a zany “out there” appearance but simply a refusal to conform to the usual shirt and tie of the corporate world.
*Steve Jobs angular facial features were best framed in a simple black polo neck. This wasn’t a major fashion statement but a means of identifying him amongst the crowd.
If a leader has a penchant for bright colours then she should continue to wear such outfits but I would not recommend wearing bright colours simply to stand out from the crowd. A leader should not manipulate her clothes to stand out from the crowd but should spend time working out how her clothes can easily reflect her ideas and principles. An ease with herself and confidence in her ideas can be seamlessly reflected in the colours and shapes of clothes she chooses to wear. And as we are all unique this approach to clothes will lead to an individual appearance that doesn’t conform to the crowd. One person that a leader does not want to look like is a manager.