A Sole Secret To A Good First Impression
I once had a mentor that I can best describe as having a clean and conservative style – and impeccable taste in shoes. Even today, 30 years later, I remember watching him as he walked through the large manufacturing plant he lead, where thousands of steelworkers contributed every day to our economy. I can visualize how he presented himself and was able to immediately connect with people. What was even more memorable was how, under his leadership, work areas were thoroughly cleaned each day, floors were painted, walls were free of dust, and old furniture was removed and appropriately replaced.
As I think about this, what also comes to mind was how the plant looked just one year earlier. You see, his predecessor’s actions lead one to believe that he thought that cleanliness was not a precursor to safety, superior product quality and employee engagement. And as we all knew then and today, these beliefs, and many more, have become the cornerstones for companies competing in the 21st century. I still laugh to myself when I think about something my mentor said to me, “Before you walk into a plant, look at the leader’s shoes.”
Fast forward to today. Often, I am asked, “How can I best prepare for an interview?” There are many things every executive should consider. Your resume must be concise, your experiences should be consistent with the position you are pursuing, your research of the company should be extensive and be certain to be prepared with appropriate questions. All of these things and many more go without saying.
Another area often overlooked; however, is the need to create immediate connectivity. There are several pivotal moments when I’m meeting someone for the first time that I pay close attention to. When a candidate is walking towards me, I take note of their general dress. One thing I’ve learned through my experience is that you should never underestimate the power of a strong first impression. To this point, your interview outfit should be carefully selected — from head to toe.
Obviously, you know where I am going: shoes are often a reflection of who we are. They represent the way we want to present ourselves to the world, while showcasing style and our unique personalities. You can buy a dress or a suit on a whim, but you invest in shoes because they will be worn for years to come. There’s a certain level of intimacy that goes into a shoe purchase – at least, there should be.
In fact, a study published by the Journal of Research found that there is a direct correlation between the shoes someone wears and their personality. 63 participants were asked to examine hundreds of photos of shoes to determine the gender, age, and social status of the owners. The participants were also able to guess personality traits and assess whether the owner was ambitious.
Studies continue to suggest that one should consider; would you be more likely to trust an executive to lead your business if they had clean, well-cared-for shoes, or scuffed, dirty, and unkempt shoes? If they can’t maintain their shoes, how will they maintain a company?
All of this is to remind candidates that even the smallest of details matter. If you want to prove yourself as an impactful leader, put yourself in their shoes.
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