How to Look Like a Leader at Work: 4 Ideas to Look Like a Confident Leader

Have you ever wondered how to look like a leader at work? Maybe you’ve seen people who ooze charisma or confidence and you want to know how to look like that. It is absolutely possible. And in this blog post, I’ll show you how.

We first need to talk about how impressions are formed. When people look at you, for example when you walk into a room, they will focus on three main things: your outfit, your body language and your communication. 

These three elements make up your leadership presence. When crafted well, they will make you look like a leader. And people you admire, those who have charisma and ooze confidence, have mastered all three aspects of their leadership presence to create the impression of being a confident leader.

This is absolutely possible for you too, and below I’ll explain how.

1. Create a signature leadership outfit.

The first thing you need to do is create a signature leadership outfit. This is an outfit you wear to work that raises your level of authority, credibility and creates a consistent image of you being a leader.

Consistency is incredibly important here. When people consistently see you in a leadership outfit, you become more memorable. When they talk about you to others, they will describe you as somebody with leadership potential. This in turn allows you to have more impact and influence in your job.

Below is one example of a signature leadership outfit for women in a traditional industry.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Below is one example of a signature leadership outfit for men in a traditional industry.

Photo by Anthony Shkrabafrom Pexels

Your signature leadership outfit will depend on the industry in which you work. If you work in a traditional industry, use the above images for guidance. If you work in a creative or casual industry, look at other leaders you admire and take inspiration from their outfits.

You can add a touch of professionalism and elegance by using a quality business card case for your networking and other interactions. I have been using a business card case for years and people are always impressed when I put their business card in an elegant looking case. Click these links to see options for both men and women.

I do talk in depth about dressing for your industry in my Business Etiquette 101: Social Skills for Success video course. Click this link if you’d like to learn more about this course.

2. Lift your level of formality.

When you’re choosing your leadership outfit, you should aim for one level of formality higher than others in your team. This helps you to convey more authority at work and develop the impression that you are a leader.

I know it’s tempting to want to dress exactly like those in your team so you can connect and relate to them better. But you’re a leader. You need to look like a leader. And lifting the level of formality with your clothing will help you to achieve this and gain the respect of people in your team.

3. Use the body language of a leader.

Your body language is also important to help you look like a leader. This means you need to look like somebody with confidence and self-assurance. Somebody who looks decisive and is sure about the direction they’re going in. How can you achieve this?

There are three things you need to pay attention to:

  1. Use confident posture
  2. Expand your movements
  3. Use good eye contact

Photo by Gustavo Fringfrom Pexels

I explain more about these body language elements in the below video.

4. Use the other person’s name in conversation.

Using somebody’s name in conversation when you’re talking to them is a sure-fire way to connect with them. When we hear somebody use our name in a warm, kind way, it makes us feel important and appreciated. For example, “Kara, I really appreciate the effort you put into this report”.

And if you use this with your team, they’re sure to walk away from every interaction with you feeling that you care about them. When you show you care, people often think you’re a good leader and a great person to work with. Start to use people’s name in conversation more often, like this:

“James, your contribution in last week’s meeting was the best I’ve seen all year”. 

“Thank you so much for suggesting that workaround with Client X, Monica. You really showed initiative with this suggestion”.

A lot of people think that you have to be born a leader to look like a leader. That is untrue. All you need is understand how impressions are formed and take control of the various elements people will use to decide whether you look like a leader, or not. I hope this blog post and video below will help you out with that.

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About Kara

Kara Ronin is the founder of Executive Impressions. She is an executive coach who specialises in leadership presence, social skills and business etiquette. She is also the creator of Bestselling Udemy course, Business Etiquette 101. Kara’s advice and unique perspectives have been featured in Time Inc., Business Insider, Ignites Europe (a Financial Times Service), The Muse, The Local France, The West Australian, and more. Kara works regularly with lawyers, investment bankers, and finance professionals to help them build presence, authority and influence in business. Get Kara's insights delivered straight to your inbox