Is it really better to look good than to be good? by Roz Usheroff
“Attractive CEOs receive higher total compensation, better returns on their first days on the job and boost stock performance when they appear on television, according to research by two economists at the University of Wisconsin.”
I have to admit that when I first read the CNBC article “Want better returns? Hire a good-looking CEO” by Kiran Moodley, I immediately thought of my last post and the lessons that one should not be “mislead by appearances,” and not letting “first impressions dissuade you from knowing someone.”
This is because the findings and resulting paper by the two University of Wisconsin economists appears to fly in the face of the values around which the above referenced lessons are based. By the way, the title of their paper is “Beauty is wealth: CEO appearance and shareholder value.”
The obvious question that this would lead one to ask is . . . how superficial are we as a society?
Whenever studies such as these come up – and they do from time-to-time, the forest for the trees analogies invariably follow.
For example, would great Presidents such as Abraham Lincoln or Franklin Delano Roosevelt have been elected in our 7/24, visually overloaded world of today?
Those who think (perhaps hope might be the better word) that we as people value character over looks would suggest yes. However, one cannot deny that the first televised Presidential debate between Richard Nixon and JFK in 1960 contradicts that sentiment.
For those of you who are too young to remember, the people who listened to the debate on the radio felt that Nixon got the better of the younger JFK. Conversely, those who viewed the exchange on television gave the young Senator from Massachusetts the victory. A big part of that consensus was due to the fact that Nixon came across on TV as “sickly and sweaty, while Kennedy appeared calm and confident.” Kennedy ultimately went on to win one of the closest elections in the country’s history.
The above notwithstanding, and keeping in mind that one should always strive to put their “best face” forward, the need to look beyond appearances and first impressions becomes even more critical today than at any other time in our recent past.
Starting with an individual’s values, we have to take the time to look at the person and discern their motivation and intent. Conversely, we ourselves have to be certain to promote our values and our value to those with whom we want to interact. While we might not win the day all of the time, we will eventually find the open door we are seeking.
After all Nixon did eventually go on to win the Presidency in 1968.
In my new book The Future of You! Creating Your Enduring Brand, I show you how to become your Best PR Person by enabling you to effectively demonstrate your value in terms of helping others to achieve their goals.