As a basic principle, I learned in my childhood that you should not give in to appearances, or to be more precise, you should look behind appearances, especially when you want to evaluate a person. Then, for decades, films have been spouting “beauty is on the inside”, which in the end has been interpreted by many people as meaning that there are actually two categories: the beautiful, who are, of course, empty inside, and the not beautiful, who are obviously wonderful inside. Then, when I became a manager, this cardinal rule somehow seemed even truer, because a manager decades ago was supposed to be unable to take care of himself enough to have time for his appearance. And it was only natural that the business world would rise above this. But there has been a huge shift in this area in the last decade or so, and the clichés that the managerial world has developed for itself – in defence of its own laziness or even carelessness – have now collapsed. And the pandemic is revving up this process to turbo speed.
The alarm is not ringing
I have been thinking a lot – if only from the point of view of self-assessment and self-control ¬– about whether the way the management world is now working is right, and within that, I am obviously also focusing on whether I personally am judging the situation correctly. What I can say for sure is that in business, looking good definitely helps you to succeed. It’s easier to do business with someone who looks good, easier to come to work in a workplace where the leader looks good. And there’s nothing wrong with that! That doesn’t make the world a shallow and superficial place. After all, what exactly does it mean to be “good-looking”? There is no clear recipe for what kind of body to have, what kind of clothes to wear, or what kind of car to buy. Appearance, as clichéd as it may be, is a reflection of our inner image of ourselves. If you look good, you project a sense of self-acceptance, self-satisfaction, and a sense of being okay with who you are. It doesn’t mean you’re smitten with yourself, but it certainly means you’re comfortable in your own skin. And then, this is a category that is unique. Because there is no clear set of rules about what makes someone feel good about themselves. There is one rule: really feel good, don’t just impose it on yourself. But whether that means a muscular, lean, athletic, or average body is up to each individual. The important thing is that what you decide you can do, you can do. Body positivity is a hot topic these days, and many people explain it in whatever way they like. The attitude of “whatever you are, accept yourself” may work for ordinary people, but it certainly doesn’t work for managers. For managers, there is one more thing that potential followers certainly expect from them: they want you to be the best you can be. Strive to be better and better, and the results of this tendency will show up quite visibly on the outside. In other words, “looking good” means that the manager, taking into account their own genetic and other talents, is doing the best they can. It also means consciously following a policy of becoming an idol in the eyes of young people, and knowing that to do this, they must take into account the needs of young people in addition to their own principles. And if it is important for your followers that you wear a name-brand suit, then you should do so in a way that is worthy of your position. Or if not, then you should have the communication to explain why not. The point is: be conscious in all areas.
I have changed a lot over the decades. Now I live in the USA, and I can see exactly how much European and American managers have come closer together. The Europeans have made a lot of progress in body culture, and the Americans have made a lot of progress in fashion. Where have I come in this battle? I think that looks are a very important measure of a manager, because a good manager has an aura. And you can’t have an aura if you don’t do everything you can to live a healthy life, to take care of yourself and your environment. There was a time when a flashy car and watch meant a lot to me, but I feel I’ve outgrown that. I think it’s important for a good manager to have the opportunity to choose between status symbols. It’s nice to reach the point where you can buy any car or even a watch – I’m thinking within the boundaries of common sense here, of course – but when you reach that level, you have to stop and ask yourself whether you are still on the right track. For me, my first realisation came when I was replacing my business bag. Traditionally, I always bought products from a very exclusive brand. It worked; there was nothing wrong with that. But when I was looking for my new bag, I had the feeling that it was not practical, that I didn’t need it anymore, that I didn’t need to spend 2000-3000 USD on a bag. So I found myself a very nice, practical, handmade leather bag for 300 USD and donated the rest of the money for the bag to charity. It was an amazing feeling that I wanted to share with my manager friends. They have all been using this brand of bag ever since. I’ve been on the status journey and enjoyed it. But today, when people ask me why I am successful in business, I answer that looks are very important. However, I will immediately add that I am specifically referring to looking healthy and radiating energy. And whatever that means to anybody, regardless of how, with what kind of build, background and energy, you achieve it, that’s what you should strive for! COVID-19 has taught humanity, including the management world, many new things. One of the most important of these, I think, is that we need to be more concerned with being happy, and to do that, we need to be in harmony with ourselves. And it shows on the outside!