I was recently reminded of how important perception is. Most people are familiar with (and often reject) the advice to dress for the role you want not the role you have.
For many of us, this kind of approach seems so phony. We often want to stand on the substance of our work and not the perception of others, and yet…
Once again, life doesn’t really work that way.
I think that it is important to recognize that while substance is important, so too is perception. Luckily, perception is not just about how you dress, it’s about the types of roles that people could envision you doing.
To get a new role, you need to help people imagine you in it. This means, you need to stretch yourself outside of your comfort zone and start behaving the way that role requires.
If the role you want is management then things like leadership and communication become critical. If the role you want is executive, then things like presence and vision start taking a priority.
The key is not to just develop the skills, but to demonstrate them to others. Helping people imagine you in the role you want can dramatically increase your chances of getting it.
Now if you’ll excuse me for a moment I somehow feel an urgent need for a makeover ;-).