The most effective leaders I know pay attention to their image, while not becoming a slave to it. What others think of us matters. How others see us matters. The words others hear come out of our mouths matter.
Quality leaders score high on all three of the following indices (see Dan Rockwell's thoughts on this topic here):
- Character - our values/beliefs, the stuff that makes us tick.
- Substance - the experience, knowledge, skills, and ways of thinking we bring to the table.
- Style - the way we present ourselves and represent our constituents; everything from dress to interpersonal skills to table manners.
Wise leaders figure out ways to effectively "demonstrate" each in both overt and covert ways, not for self-aggrandizing purposes, but rather, to broaden their influence. "Polishing up" is not a bad thing.