Are Women Leaders Being Judged only on Appearance?

What is your stereotype for the appearance of a strong woman in a leadership role?

Picture how she dresses, wears her hair and how she interacts.

Now let me blow that away with a picture of a strong woman I encountered this weekend. She had a delicate nose ring, had several tattoos and wore part of her hair in a tightly twisted rose on her forehead, crowned by a pork pie hat that kept slipping back on her head.

She wore a short black dress with white polka-dotted bloomers with frills that ended below her knees and long black and white socks completed the outfit.

Her smile was impish and engaging and her team watched her with unwavering attention. They responded to her lead of a slight nod, eye contact, a turn to face slightly towards the person who was next to play their part. She led the group’s interactions with intentionality and assertiveness, including everyone to share the limelight with her equally.

Her name is Sparrow and is the leader of a unique folk band called The Resonant Rogues. Her team are a band, and I doubt that they would have wowed the crowd with their performance if they didn’t follow her lead.

Far more than the music, Sparrow has Presence. She was friendly, fun and engaging; however the quality that captivated everyone in the room was her presence. It was as though she magnetized everyone to see only her.

What constitutes Presence?

According to Suzanne Bates, researcher and author of All the Leader You can Be, Executive Presence has three major dimensions:

  1. Style
  2. Substance
  3. Character

Sparrow has all the facets of Style that influence her followers. These are:

Appearance – dress and demeanor to suit the occasion and draw attention

Intentionality– keeping everyone on time and aligned to produce beautiful music as well as spotting the need to adapt to the slight nuances of live performance

Interactivity –the ability to promote a “dialogue” between instruments and players and coordinate actions for the final sound to be pleasing

Assertiveness –valuing the opinions of the musicians on and off the stage without shutting anyone out

Inclusiveness –actively involving others in a collaboration of music that represents varying cultures and points of view

Women in leadership roles are often judged only on appearance. What about the other facets of Style?

Learn about all the facets of Style and share these with your female leaders to help them get ahead of the judgments being made of them.

I can help you if you click here to set up a free consultation.



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