Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Is wearing a suit a sign of "self importance"?

In the business world top executives have always worn suits. The more successful the individual, the more expensive the suit, right? But have you noticed a change in business dress in previous years? Today I see more and more top executives dressing in a more casual manner and I wonder if this is the beginning of a new trend.

While I admit that it would seem a bit strange to see the president of the United States delivering a state of the union address in khakis, I wonder if so much formality is really a necessity in the private sector. In many companies today the top executives are often referred to as “suits” by many of their underlings and most of the time it is not meant as a compliment.

The so called “suits” are often considered to be “out of touch” by the average working person and may even be perceived as pompous or arrogant simply due to the fact that they dress differently (and more expensively) than the majority of the employees in any given large corporation. Could there possibly be any truth to this common opinion?

A recent study conducted at California State University has revealed that the way in which a person dresses can actually affect their behavior and the way that they think! According to the study when people are formally dressed they tend to feel more powerful but less connected with others whose job position does not require them to dress in the same manner. They tend to be less detail oriented and more holistic in their thought process and are more likely to favor abstract reasoning over simple, concrete facts. These changes in the thought process are considered to be a positive attribute for decision makers according to the study. But is it good for morale and the attitude of the entire workforce?

Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. It’s clear to me that many key positions in the private sector dictate appropriate dress as is befitting a high level position but does this, in fact, make the average worker feel far removed from upper management? I think that many times this is the case. Maybe timing is the secret here. Perhaps there are times that the CEO should wear his “Sunday best” and maybe there are times that he should not.

Do you know who Mark Zuckerberg is? He is best known as one of five co-founders of the social networking website Facebook and is currently its chairman and chief executive. He is known to wear hoodies, yes, hoodies to investor meetings! While this may seem strange and even inappropriate to many, it just might be a sign of changing times.

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