There are many elements that make up your professional reputation. And some image consultants will tell you that the clothes you wear is the most important one. Well, this was probably true decades ago. Today’s world moves faster and leaders face new challenges that go far beyond your wardrobe, the dress code, the handshake, the way you sit or the first seven seconds of a meeting. Nowadays, people judge you before you get the chance to shake their hands or even arrange meetings. Because you leave a footprint – anytime and anywhere. You leave hints of who you are and what values you stand for. Your image is like a puzzle, tons of information people will put together when they are about to imprint their opinion about you – right or wrong.

Fairly or not, the people who surround you, from your friends in real life to your friend list on Facebook, to those who tagged you on Instagram after last weekend’s party, your family, including your parents and children, your husband or wife at the company’s Christmas party, are all part of your image. You have allowed them to be a part, or chosen to make them part of it. For your own image, it is important to surround yourself with people who are smart, driven and like-minded, and who reflect the person you want to be. Relationships should help you, not hurt you. Choose the people who surround you wisely. Friends, who you are proud to know, who you admire and who you respect.

Relationships should help you, not hurt you. Choose the people who surround you wisely. Click To Tweet

They have an influence on how successful you will be. Because it doesn’t matter how great you are, it doesn’t matter how talented you are, it doesn’t matter what your position or title is. All that counts is that you are surrounded by people that will help and support you. People who are worth spending time with them.

Take a walk around your office today and consider the different office desks. What do you see? How do they look? What’s the first impression they make when you enter the room? I hope you share my cut-and-dried and rather low opinion, which is based on thousands of desktops I’ve seen, of those people who clutter their desks with family photos, plants, post-its, clocks, calendars, coffee mugs, stacks of papers, a guest chair buried under a pile of jackets and handbags, and souvenirs from past travels. An entire collage? From best friends to cousins, to grandmas and uncles? And children, of course, children in the “funniest” and “saddest” moments ever, accompanied by colorful first scribbles and writings. All of this says that you cannot wait to finish work and get back to your real life with family and friends.

By all means, I’m not telling you that you can’t put a family picture on your desk. But look at the desk of a leader, maybe your CEO or any C-level leader in your organization. They very often have one family picture standing on their desk, beautifully framed, from a professional photographer; and their beautiful spouse is smiling at them while holding their even more beautiful children. It stands on their otherwise spotless desk like a trophy, like something he or she has achieved, even next to their demanding jobs and responsibilities.

You might think that controlling your image is simply a form of micromanagement. Yes, it is. Click To Tweet

You might think that controlling your image is simply a form of micromanagement. Yes, to a certain point, it is. But from the outside perspective it means that you take care that every single detail is well thought-out.

Maybe it’s time to look around and clean up your wardrobe
and your car and your desk.
Possibly, even some friends. Do it! Just do it!