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The REAL Consequences to Not Taking Your Work Style Seriously

by Debra Bednar-Clark
Anne Hathaway as Andy in The Devil Wears Prada

I remember watching a female leader present to a room full of employees in a dress that was both too tight and too short. Immediately, people were distracted from her real message (which was a good one!) and lost respect for her because they couldn’t get past what she was wearing.

Don’t let that be you.

Ignoring the idea that work style matters will hinder your ability to create a strong leadership presence. That has serious consequences, such as:

  1. Leaders won’t feel like you’re capable to handle the work if you don’t look pulled together. Remember in The Devil Wears Prada how Miranda doubted whether Andy (in her lumpy blue sweater) could meet her needs? Eventually, Andy evolved her style to match her intellect and that power pairing simply couldn’t be denied, even by an icon like Miranda (ahem…Anna).
  2. Leaders won’t feel comfortable bringing you to high-powered meetings (because they know that your less than stellar image will negatively affect how the leader who brought you is perceived).
  3. Leaders won’t ask you to take meetings on their behalf (which means that you’re missing out on access and opportunities; two of the most essential elements needed to learn, grow and advance in your career).
  4. Leaders will doubt whether you can manage others if you can’t manage yourself (a disorganized and unkept you means a disorganized and unkept business).
  5. Leaders won’t know what you stand for. How you think and feel are critical but how you look and act is how you show the world who you are. Your style is what lets the world see your individuality and personality — what makes you different is what makes you memorable.
  6. When items 1-5 are present, you can be sure that you’ll also miss out on raises, promotions, perks, respect and exciting new opportunities.

Once you take your work style seriously, define your own look and then continue to evolve it, it actually becomes a fun and seamless process. (Here’s a questionnaire that will help you get started!)

You have the power to use style to influence how you’re perceived and create a strong leadership presence, which is a huge professional advantage. Why not use it?

For more advice on how to use style to help you get ahead, plus inspiring stories, tips for managing a career crossroads and more, subscribe to our newsletter here and follow us on Instagram @db.and.co.

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