Wednesday, 01 February 2017
The Dressing Well Blog
Mary Lou Andre

Leadership Lessons from the Closet

By Mary Lou Andre

In addition to fashion, design and style, I am equally passionate about personal development at all levels. In fact, one of the best parts of my job is interacting with people who are at the top of their chosen professions. I am continuously amazed at how much they get done in a given day and in many ways feel like I am their student (even though I am hired to coach them!)

Here are 4 traits that many of the most professionally (and personally) successful people I have been lucky enough to coach over the course of my career all have in common: 

#1 They slow down to go fast. They know that Rome was not built in a day. Whether intuitively or not, they have come to understand how wardrobe and professional image impact their brand and daily interactions with others. They make the time to regularly edit their closet, check their schedules for upcoming events and important meetings, and plan for new purchases accordingly. By doing so, they are rarely caught off guard when opportunities such as speaking engagements, trips, conferences and media interviews present themselves. In addition, this innate preparation (which notably does take time) actually allows them to go faster. They report getting out the door more quickly and appropriately dressed for the day at hand when their closet is organized and contains only pieces that fit their figure, stature, personal style, industry and general lifestyle. Their confidence soars.

#2 They give you their undivided attention. They treat closet and shopping sessions like important business meetings and rarely pick up their cell phones, laptops and other devices. If they are expecting a call or email, they are quick to inform up front so that the meeting can stay on track if they need to step out. They further “stay in the moment” by resisting the temptation to take up with unnecessary distractions, which could detract from the success of the primary task at hand. Respect begets respect. Our process moves along quickly with this type of commitment. Being respected at this level also makes me work harder for them between working sessions too.  

#3 They listen and take action quickly. Getting rid of clothes is very hard for many people. Not this group! If you make the case correctly (aka it has to make sense!), they part with things faster than a New York minute. Why? They quickly process when things are holding them back and are quick to make adjustments to move themselves forward. When they hesitate, it is often with good reason. They add their perspective but tend to defer to people they consider to have expertise. I have personally experienced this trait and have also observed it being exercised with tailors, hair stylists, make-up artists and the like. This group tends to have action-orientated dialogs that yield impressive results.

#4 Finally, they are fun and loyal! Setting good working boundaries happens naturally with this group. Once they know what to expect out of the relationship, the fun starts. They take risks, don’t sweat the small stuff and are as loyal as the day is long. They refer friends, business associates and family without expecting much in return. They approach life with an abundance of energy, knowing there is plenty to go around.

Last Word
The best part about all these traits is that you don’t have to be a CEO or other top executive to practice any of them. I have worked on developing these characteristics myself over the years and they all make life easier, more rewarding and just plain more satisfying. 

Click to Share:

About the Author

Mary Lou Andre

Mary Lou Andre is a nationally recognized wardrobe, dress code and corporate image consultant, speaker and author. She is founder and president of Organization By Design, Inc., a Needham, Massachusetts-based wardrobe management, fashion and image consulting firm that helps individuals and organizations understand the power of being appropriately dressed in a variety of situations.

Learn more about Mary Lou » 

Related items

  • Picture Perfect: Getting a Headshot You’ll Be Proud to Post

    A professional portrait—referred to in the business world as a "headshot"—serves a multitude of purposes. It instantly conveys what you and your company are all about and can help you acquire (and keep!) target customers, all while supporting a strong online and offline presence.


Ms S whitehead 2017-02-03 06:36

Hi Mary Lou, thank you so much for this information. I too am into personal development and am fascinated to learn these points.

I would be interested to read a book about high flyers' traits from your perspective.
Would you consider writing one? Anyway, thanks again, I've gleaned a lot of info. From your post.

By the way, for anyone who hasn't already got it, the dressing well book is a gold mine of information.

Many thanks ms s whitehead

Mary Lou 2017-02-03 09:54

Thanks for your nice note. There are so many wonderful leadership books out there but you never know -- I might have another book in me someday!!!
Be well --
Mary Lou

Pat 2017-02-05 09:23

Thank you, Mary Lou, for these time saving suggestions every woman can benefit from.

I can't resist the opportunity to tell you I purchased your Dressing Well book years ago. You would be happy to know it's totally trashed from wonderful use; dog eared, highlighted, sticky notes everywhere, in general falling apart with love, use, and joy.

You are the best,

Mary Lou 2017-02-06 20:51

This is why we do what we do! Grateful I was able to write the book when I did -- it put a system to our work that allows many to get great results on their own. It's a timeless philosophy that we practice each day with clients. Thank you very much for writing -- best to you Pat!

Lori Johnson 2017-02-06 07:35

Excellent info. Great advice for all busy leaders. Thanks for sharing.

Mary Lou 2017-02-06 20:54

Thanks Lori. Look forward to seeing you soon.


Add comment