Having just been watching the tour de France, I got to thinking about the psychological effect the visible trappings of leadership have on those who have achieved them, those who observe them and those who aspire to them.
The famous yellow jersey is awarded to the leader of each section of the race. Its winners report that wearing the jersey gives them a huge confidence boost and say they feel it improves their performance.
I learned long ago that when faced with several hundred people in a lecture hall, wearing what one or my colleagues referred to as my ‘user shell’, a sharply tailored suit (with shoulder pads – but we won’t go there) gave me the confidence to perform well and appear to have the confidence that I needed but didn’t necessarily actually possess.
And of course the first impression, what you look like, makes a huge difference to to your reception. Similarly, dressing appropriately to blend in makes those around you more comfortable and receptive.
Congruence- being consistent if you like – really is important and we ignore it at our peril.