Thursday, April 16, 2015

Follow the Leader

Will copying your senior leadership get you where you want to be?

So, once again I direct your attention to a recent CareerBuilder survey. [Side note: I love their surveys and polls. They’re pretty much always timely in topic and sometimes downright funny (like the one where they list the worst excuses for calling in sick). But I also love them because they provide me with a relatively easy post during a crappy week. Awesome!]

This time around, the clever folks at CareerBuilder surveyed 552 executives (hiring and human resources managers in senior leadership positions including CEOs, CFOs, COOs and Senior VP) ages 18 and over to discover common characteristics of these senior management folks. What they found puts the lie to a common belief that execs are evil, money-hoarding, in-your-face-with-my-wealth jerks. That’s not to say those kind of folks don’t exist, just that maybe they’re not really the norm.

Some highlights:

Seventy-nine percent of the executives polled drive themselves to work in an regular old auto; with 1 in 4 (24 percent) drives an SUV, 1 in 5 (22 percent) go for a mid-sized sedan, and only 1 in 10 (10 percent) toddle around in a luxury sedan. Some 18% use more environmentally friendly ways to get to work, with 9% of those taking public transportation (bus or train), 4% driving hybrids, 4% walk, and 1% riding a bike.

Gourmet tastes in food and wine? Not so much, really. More than 3 in 5 of executives (62%) refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages at company events. They go for soda (2%), water (19%), coffee (13%) or nothing at all (7%). Thirteen percent of executives enjoy a beer, and the same number (13%) go for wine, and 8% opt for mixed drinks. When it comes to dining, nearly half of executives polled (42%) bring their own lunch to work, while the rest go out for fast food (22%) or food from a sit-down restaurant (14%). Ten percent of executives say they don’t eat lunch at all on a typical day. Sounds a lot like the rest of us.

So, will copying your executive leadership get you anywhere? Maybe, just don’t do the creepy copy thing (that’s likely to get you canned or arrested). The survey points out that common career advice dictates you should dress for the position you want, not the position you have. I agree with that to an extent. Performance is key, but presentation can be essential, as well. Rosemary Haefner, CHRO of CareerBuilder says "the way you present yourself….is…a reflection of how seriously you take your job". This is so true.

Follow the leader… Senior leaders should be setting the tone for how we conduct ourselves in the workplace, so look toward them for direction when it comes to not just dressing the part, but conducting yourself like a leader as well. This is the flip-side to the necessity of senior leaders to "walk the talk". If they’re not living the values of the company, how will they expect others to?

Dress for success. Don’t run out and buy the same suit/dress/sweater as your boss. But adding your own style or set piece to the basic black corporate suit or dress expresses your professional demeanor as well as your own personal style.

Be the brand. Even outside of work, CEOs and senior executives are considered the "face" of the brand. So, even when not at work, they’re living the company’s values. Keep this in mind when you’re out socializing (and posting that selfie on Instagram!). Remember that you’re a representative of your company and how you act reflects on the company – and you.

Simple, basic but on-target advice.

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