You and your company mention professional presence as a cornerstone of career and personal effectiveness. Although I think most people agree that dress codes can be a sensitive subject in the current cross-generational workforce, does it really merit an entire course?
Greg A. (Dallas, Texas)
I’m so glad that you wrote in, because it gave me the opportunity to clarify professional presence and what it entails. In our Professional Presence in a Casual World program, we do cover the impact of personal presentation, and the components of appearance and self-management that work together to create an image that you present to the people you encounter every day.
However, that is just the beginning of the professional presence story. Are you aware of the unconscious behaviors you have developed over the years, and how they impact your career opportunities and possibility for success? We all have ways of moving through our workdays and are usually unaware of how we could be sabotaging our own success.
How about the relationship between your own style and the culture of your organization? Every firm is unique. What are the valued personality styles and ethics in your organization? How about accepted team dynamics and typical ways of relating to managers? I know I’m asking a lot of questions, but these are some of the critical components of professional presence that are often ignored and misunderstood.
The great news is that improving your professional presence provides you with the foundation needed for success in all of your projects and jobs, both now and in the future.
We also cover professional competence in our Professional Presence in a Casual World program, and this is when people are given the opportunity to step away from their regular work life and take a hard look at their professional competencies, including their personal, business, and strategic competencies. We work through each area together and identify practical takeaways that participants can put to work right away.
Even after almost 30 years of working with people just like you, I’m always thrilled to return to a company and hear their positive stories about how stalled careers got back on track, tenuous professional relationships have strengthened, and accountability has increased as a result of resolving to sincerely care about every facet of professional presence. So to summarize yes, physical presentation, including knowledge of appropriate business attire is important, it is only one part of a much deeper subject that all of us can learn from, no matter what function or level in our organization.
Do you have a question for Suzanne? She is the CEO of Employee Development Systems, Inc. (EDSI) and has been resolving employee development, leadership, generational, professional presence, and personal effectiveness issues for over 30 years, and she is ready to tackle any question you have.