Authentic, Authenticity, Body Language, Confidence, First Impressions, Image consultancy, Leadership, Lyn Bromley, Men in Business, Women in business

How to Express Your Leadership Presence

iStock_000017925351SmallLeaders of men and women come in many guises, from successful business people like Richard Branson and Sheryl Sandberg, to spiritual and political leaders like Gandhi or Martin Luther King.  One thing effective leaders have in common is presence and by learning how to maximise yours, you will be developing an essential vital non-verbal communication skill that will ensure you look like a leader. The art of communication is surely one of the most vital skills of any leader, the power to persuade and appearance plays and important role in that process. In this very visual world, we are all influenced by what we see and so our appearance needs to match what’s on the inside – our abilities, characteristics and values. Otherwise, we get mixed messages. The ability to manage our image is a positive communication skill and something we can easily learn like any other for career success.

Deep impact

First and foremost, you have to make an impact. Effective leaders will almost always have ‘presence’ or that indefinable X factor. They will either give an impression of quiet authority or of obvious power, according to their personal style. Your posture, demeanour and the way you interact with people – as well as appearance – will all contribute to your personal presence. It has often been described that leaders ‘take up space’ and are comfortable doing so. They stand, move and dress confidently and assertively.  Good leaders will be well aware of the subliminal messages of non-verbal communication, including image and your body language, and will use these tricks effectively. Leaders also make the rules rather than follow them and have the confidence to dress to reflect their personality and business. Think of Sir John Harvey-Jones with his natty suits and flamboyant socks, Richard Branson’s early years in his approachable knitwear or Anita Roddick’s style echoing her individuality and ethical interests. Each of these leaders has a very distinctive personal image. You need to develop your personal style to suit your style of leadership. Whatever look you choose, you must be true to your personality and remain individual to ensure you’re memorable.

Feel the quality

And, whether you believe money is the measure of success or not, when it comes to appearance, quality counts.  That doesn’t mean you have to buy the most expensive items you can find – it’s about seeking clothes and accessories where the quality of the material and craftsmanship is evident.  A perfectly fitting lightweight wool suit, an immaculate silk tie or a beautifully stitched handbag in softest leather – they all breathe quality.  Too often in corporate life, an individual’s impact is marred by the inclusion of an item that jars.  A smart tailored suit and crisp shirt can be undermined by teaming them with a cheap plastic watch and biro.  It gives out a message of poor judgement, poor quality and a sloppy approach to work.  The subliminal message you want people to pick up from your appearance is ‘here is someone who knows what they are doing, where they are going, with sound judgement and an eye for quality and detail’.

Role Model

Another aspect of effective leadership is taking your duty as a role model seriously.  Individuals leading their own businesses can obviously make the rules, but should remember that they are role models for those following them up the career ladder and so should set the standard for the company.  Giving clear messages to your employees about how you expect them to dress at work will make them feel far more comfortable than a confusing ‘anything goes’ atmosphere.   Make it clear to your staff or team just what you expect of them – and avoid vague terms than can be misinterpreted. The current trend towards a ‘modern professional’ dress code, where an employee is expected to make judgements about what look each day’s activities require, is a good test of their business acumen. Judging when to opt for ‘formal business’, knowing when ‘relaxed business’ will do or when ‘business casual’ is the order of the day takes perception – and that’s a valuable skill to have on your team. You will want your staff and clients to have absolute faith in you and your ability to make good decisions, so a good leader will need to earn respect.   Your clothes can play their part – err on the side of formality or, if the culture in which you work demands a business casual approach, keep it smart and co-ordinated and of good quality. And, of course, your clothes need to match the culture and values of your organisation. For example, in a young, innovative company, you’ll need to be more casual and keep a closer eye on fashion trends. Knowledge of colour will also be valuable to know how to look more authoritative when you need to. This is especially true when selecting business casual items as they are often more colourful and require good co-ordination.  There will also be occasions when you need to project more approachability and subtle changes in the way you wear colour can help achieve this.

Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA –  Managing Director, First Impressions  Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI)  She is also Director of Regional Events for FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women. Please contact us if you would like to know more about our programmes, bespoke image training or one-to-one coaching.  First Impressions have a network of over 150 consultants working across the UK – to find one in your area visit the website and take a look at the consultant map. Telephone: +44 (0)1926 623038 Email: enquiries@firstimpressions.uk.com Website: www.firstimpressions.uk.com

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Authentic, Authenticity, Body Language, Communication, Customer Service, Lyn Bromley, Uncategorized

Communication Skills for the NHS

body_languageDid you know that one of the most common complaints about the NHS is poor communication?  The NHS trust in the area that I live in, South Warwickshire Foundation Trust, or SWFT, has a great reputation and scores very highly in feedback surveys.  At their recent nursing conference they still decided to select ‘communication’ as their main theme.  It’s interesting isn’t it, that those who are at the excellent end of the spectrum often choose to learn more.  You might think that there is no need, if they are already doing well, why strive for improvement?  Well, it is this very attitude of wanting to continually improve that puts them at the top of their profession.  The aspect that I most noticed about the group of 200 or so professionals, was that they were totally engaged and had an attitude of wanting to learn more, even though I had the ‘graveyard’ slot immediately after lunch!  This is a byproduct of what happens whether there is a culture of continuous improvement in place – people have an expectation of learning and are open to taking on new information.  They know that they are not there to be ‘fixed’ because something is broken, they know that their employers value them so highly that they continually invest in their professional development, whether that be clinical training or soft-skills training.

For people who wear uniform, their communication skills are really important, especially when they are in a caring profession because we have an expectation that they should be, well, caring!  If we are met with a situation where they are not, it really jars with our preconceived idea of how they should behave.  Their appearance is key – we expect them to be smart, clean and tidy.  Of course their uniform helps with that, but grooming is incredibly important too – you wouldn’t want to be treated by a nurse that looks a little grubby!

Their uniform already tells us much about who they are – it’s a shorthand to tell us that they are qualified and there to help.  They have an opportunity to bring their own personality to bear through their communication style, tone of voice and body language.  Nurses probably come under more scrutiny than most.  Imagine being a patient in a hospital bed.  Once you have read your magazines, eaten a few grapes and done your crossword, what else is there to do but watch the interactions of the staff in the hospital?  We find people infinitely fascinating and they draw our attention to them all the time.  We pick up on subtle clues from the unspoken word – our body language gives so many clues to what is going on and how we feel.  Are we stressed, are we calm and have everything under control?  Patients observing these interactions between health professionals will read all kinds of information from them and they will pick up on the smallest changes in body language – we are programmed and attuned to do this.  Remember our flight or fight response that I have spoken about in my earlier blog ‘Are you being Authentic?’

The nursing profession is the ultimate in customer service and we do have high expectations.  In all the interactions I have ever had with our local NHS nurses, they have all been excellent and am very thankful for that!

 

Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA –  Managing Director, First Impressions

 Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI)  She is also Director for Regional Support of FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women.

Please contact us if you would like to know more about our programmes, bespoke training and workshops or one-to-one coaching. 

First Impressions have a network of over 150 consultants working across the UK – to find one in your area visit the website and take a look at the consultant map.

Telephone: +44 (0)1926 623038

Email: enquiries@firstimpressions.uk.com

Website: www.firstimpressions.uk.com

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Authentic, Authenticity, Body Image, Confidence, First Impressions, Image consultancy, Lyn Bromley

Positive Body Image

Body ImageI heard a statistic on the radio yesterday that 98% of women are unhappy with some element of their body image and think negative thoughts about their body every 15 minutes.  If that statistic is true, it makes me feel very sad.  It’s not how it has to be.  I can sympathise with it though.  You see, when I was growing up and went through my teenage years I did everything I could to make my ‘gigantic thighs’ smaller!  Those of you who know me, will know that I am not overweight and never have been.  But my teenage self couldn’t see that.  All I could see was that my friends had ‘lovely slim thighs’, thighs that I coveted and thighs that I spent lots of time and energy in trying to achieve.  Countless exercises, starving myself and existing on an apple a day sometimes.  Guess what?  Those slim thighs never materialised!  I got slimmer, of course I did, but I got slimmer everywhere and my thighs were still in the same proportion as they ever were.

Thankfully a friend told my mum what I was doing, because of course I hid it at home (thank you Katherine Haden)!  So it didn’t go to the extremes that it could have done if left unchecked.  I then got a better perspective of my body image, noticing that I had a really slim waist and as I grew I realised that an ‘hour-glass’ figure is something to be thankful for!

Through First Impression’s image training, I learned how to dress for my shape and to dress in a way that expresses who I am and helps me to feel confident and fabulous.  I believe that everyone should have this knowledge, but based on the research, we have a long way to go!  75% of 11-21 year old girls diet to look more attractive (research by Girl Guiding UK).

I regularly go into schools to share this information with children at that impressionable age, pre-teen, as their bodies begin to change.  I share my story with them and I talk to them about wearing clothes that suit them, not feeling pressured into wearing everything that happens to be in fashion.  You all see the result of wearing leggings, skinny jeans and those hideous dropped crotch trousers that makes all young boys look as though they have really short legs!  Wear what suits your body shape, wear what makes you look good and most importantly, wear what makes you feel good.

If you are reading this and you are a parent of pre-teens or teens, please let them know that most magazine images are not real, most are airbrushed, re-touched or doctored in some way.  I show the children at my workshop images pre and post changes and they love spotting the differences.  You would be amazed at how different the real image is.  This is one of the contributing factors to beliefs about needing to achieve a ‘perfect’ body.  Of course, the media is not the only influence and it can be an easy target.  I invite you to also consider your own language as an adult.  How do you talk about your body?  What do your children hear?  Are you setting a good example or are you paving the way for a distorted body image?  When I talk to 10-11 year olds there is already talk of being too fat, or too thin – where does that thought come from?

If you would like me to speak at your child’s school, or if I can help you with your own body image, please do get in touch.

If you have any questions, I’m very happy for you to email them privately to me on the email address below.

I am passionate about helping people to be body confident and to look and feel their best.

With my best wishes

Lyn

 

Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA –  Managing Director, First Impressions

 Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI)  She is also Membership Director of FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women.

Please contact us if you would like to know more about our programmes, bespoke image training or one-to-one coaching. 

First Impressions have a network of over 150 consultants working across the UK – to find one in your area visit the website and take a look at the consultant map.

Telephone: +44 (0)1926 623038

Email: enquiries@firstimpressions.uk.com

Website: www.firstimpressions.uk.com

 

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Authentic, Authenticity, Confidence, First Impressions, Image consultancy, Leadership, Lyn Bromley, Men in Business, Women in business

Are you being authentic?

AuthenticAuthentic is a word that is bandied around frequently, but do we understand what it really means to be authentic?

I am often challenged when I tell people about what I do.  ‘Isn’t personal branding a way of making us all look the same?’ or ‘Isn’t it shallow thinking about how we look?’  They are just some of the many questions I receive from the uneducated.  I say uneducated, not to offend, but merely to point out that is not what I do at all and if you stick with me, I shall share my thoughts on what authenticity really is and how I help clients to become authentic leaders.

My belief is that we are all unique.  Why would we want to try to be like someone else?  You are certainly the best placed to be you after all, nobody can do a better job.  What I assist people to do is to find out who they really are and how they might want to represent themselves to the outside world in an authentic way that feels right for them.  We all have a personal brand whether we like it or not, so much better for it to be one we want to communicate, rather than one that happens by accident!

It is such a visual world that we do make decisions about people all the time.  We have to, it’s part of our survival strategy.  Although life has evolved since caveman days, our instincts for our ‘flight or fight’ response is still there.  So although, in the Western World,  we don’t necessarily need to make decisions on whether someone is a  threat to us or not, (not often anyway!) we still use that same strategy to decide whether we are going to get on with someone or not.  Are they like us?  Do we like the same things?  Will be be friends? Can we work well together?

If we didn’t do this our brain would most likely go into overdrive!  Have you ever considered just how much information we come into contact with on a daily basis?  Most of it of course happens unconsciously.  As you sit reading this right now, your eyes are focusing, you are breathing, you are blinking, the blood is pumping round your body – now I don’t suppose you were consciously aware of that happening until I pointed it out, but it happens nonetheless and our brains have to tell it to happen.  In fact, we come into contact with around 2,000,000 bits of information every second!  The brain can only cope with between 5-9 bits of information consciously at any one time (unless you are Einstein)!  Therefore, our brains are constantly deleting, distorting and generalising information to help us to make sense of it.

This is the reason we make an incredibly quick analysis of people when we meet them, it is so that we can pop them into the filing cabinet of our mind and know how to deal with them. So what does that mean for authenticity?  Well, for me, it’s about being true to yourself, it’s about being real, it’s sometimes about being vulnerable and honest, which in the world of business may seem a little strange, but actually, when we show our human side, we make much better connections with people.  It’s exhausting trying to be someone else and not something you can keep up full time.  Once people realise that you are not being genuine it can really damage your personal brand.

So if you were being authentic today, what would that be like for you?  What would it look like?  What would it sound like?  What would it feel like?  Do you feel that you can be authentic, or do you think you should be like someone else?  In this world of ‘fakery’ it’s a tough call, but one definitely worth considering.

I’d love to receive your feedback, please drop me a comment in the box below, or on Facebook, Twitter, Linked in, or anywhere else you care to be reading this!

Wishing you a great day,

Lyn

Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA –  Managing Director, First Impressions

 Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI)  She is also Membership Director of FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women.

Please contact us if you would like to know more about our programmes, bespoke image training or one-to-one coaching. 

First Impressions have a network of over 150 consultants working across the UK – to find one in your area visit the website and take a look at the consultant map.

Telephone: +44 (0)1926 623038

Email: enquiries@firstimpressions.uk.com

Website: www.firstimpressions.uk.com

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