Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Leadership Genius of Harry Truman, Part II

An important weekly feature of this blog is an analysis of great leaders in history. What better way to learn the fine art of leadership than by studying those who have led, and led well?

In last week's post, we began a series looking at the leadership traits of Harry S. Truman, 33rd president of the United States (or 32nd if you asked Mr. Truman!). It is interesting to note that today marks the 37th anniversary of President Truman's death at the age of 88.

Part II: Dress for Success

During his Senate years, Mr. Truman was listed as one of the ten best-dressed men in the United States Senate. He was known daily to sport a neatly tailored suit, complete with pocket-square, fashionable tie, and shiny shoes. He even made headlines with his vacation attire, which usually consisted of a wild, Hawaiian shirt, white pants and socks, and white shoes. But even on vacation, Truman was squeaky clean, and sharp as a tack.

There is an old story that while Sir Winston Churchill was visiting the White House during World War II, he encountered the ghost of Abraham Lincoln as he was getting out of the bathtub. Upon seeing the specter, Churchill, who was wearing only his birthday suit, was reported to have said, “Well, Mr. President; you seem to have me at a disadvantage.” (Churchill refused to sleep in the White House thereafter.)

Even the great Winston Churchill felt insecure when “out of uniform.” How you look impacts how you feel, how you act, and how you are perceived by others. Attention to detail in this area suggests to others that you will give attention to detail in all matters. Dressing neatly, nicely, and appropriately shows that you care and that will get you plenty of mileage every time. Thus, it is an important step toward winning the confidence of your employees.

Action Point: Determine the dress code for your workplace and assemble the appropriate wardrobe. Turn to friends or your spouse for advice as to what colors best suit you and what style is “you.” If your office requires coat and tie, make sure your outfit is professionally tailored. The extra money is worth it, especially considering you can make a suit last a very long time if properly maintained.

Art of Manliness is a great blog which offers plenty of grooming advice for men. You might want to check out this post on men's fashion, this one on pocket squares, and these great videos on how to tie a tie. For women there is this site on the latest business fashion trends.

Bookmark these sites and step up your game in this all-important area.

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