Here’s Something You Can “Do,” Beginning Right Now, To Help You Be More Successful In 2011 – “Look” The Part

He was the incandescent man.  Phil Graham walked into a room and took it over, charming and seducing, whomever he wished, men and women alike.  No one in Washington could match him at it, not even, in the days before he became President, John F. Kennedy.  He was handsome and slim and when he smiled, at first shy and then bold, everything stopped…
David Halberstam, The Powers That Be, introducing Phil Graham, (the husband of Katharine Graham).


Here’s a way to propel you to a better year, a year toward success, in 2011.

Act the part – look the part!

No, I’m not talking about your wardrobe, keeping your shoes shined, “dressing for success…” (although there is plenty of evidence that this also has an impact)  – I’m talking about the way you look; or, make that, I’m talking about the way people see you.

And to boil it down, it’s this:  posture, eye-contact, a sense of forceful assertiveness, all really matter.

Here’s the way Jeffrey Pfeffer put it in Power:  Why Some People Have it – And Others Don’t:

People with less power or people who didn’t feel powerful exhibited “inhibitive nonverbal behaviors,” such as shrinking in, caving in their chests, physically withdrawing, and using fewer and less forceful hand gestures…  Shrinking in and not behaving in a forceful fashion causes others to attribute less power to you, reinstating a negative cycle of behavior in which you’re not treated as powerful and you further withdraw and act powerless.

So – you can start now.  Sit up straight – stand up straight.  Look people in the eye.  Don’t be tentative.  (But, beware of the danger of coming across with arrogance).  Don’t run over people – but be, and be perceived as, overflowing with self-confidence.

This is something you can do.  In fact, it is something you have to do, to practice, every day, in every encounter, in every meeting.  Start right now.  Sit up straight.  Walk, stand, sit with purpose.  Don’t shrink in, don’t cave in your chest, don’t physically withdraw.  To be successful, it helps to look the part.  And looking the part is a series of behaviors — some things that you do.


I’m presenting my synopsis of Power this Friday at the January, 2011 First Friday Book Synopsis.  We meet at the Park City Club in University Park.  If you are in the DFW area, come join us.  Register here.

One thought on “Here’s Something You Can “Do,” Beginning Right Now, To Help You Be More Successful In 2011 – “Look” The Part

  1. Randy Mayeux Post author

    Yes — and, sadly, Phil Graham was quite ill (manic-depressive) and ultimately took his own life (in pretty much the same way as in the poem)…

    These behaviors are not a substitute for an inner life of strength. But, as Pfeffer, shows, it is a way to gain power — or, without these behaviors, to never gain, or even lose power.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *