The Effect of Appearing Professional

Full Chef Uniform

Today, I decided to steer my primary research on professionalism to actual practice, myself, instead of just observing. I believe that leadership and professionalism are linked, and that extends to the appearance of a leader, and a professional.

There is no exact look across the entire job marketplace that is considered professional. As fellow MGG 303 student Evan Powell noted in his blog post titled What Leadership Is, different leaders take on completely different looks, but nevertheless are leaders. Powell says, “ Leadership can come in all sorts of forms, from the restaurant head chef drenched in sweat from the 600 degree grills or the corporate executive who sips champagne during a business call paying no mind to the common people 80 stories below him.” (What Leadership Is, 2017). Of course different roles take on different appearances, but I think, as well, that we have different impressions of leaders who take professionalism seriously, and those who don’t. You may think less of your boss in a corporate setting if he’s routinely unshaven, has a sloppy suit with holes in it and a sloppy hair cut.

The same can be said for a chef, as well. From my experience, there are many levels of appearance as a chef. There are those who do very little to put themselves together. These employees just put on the pants and coat, and that’s good enough. Others, though, are down to every last detail; clean shaven, clean coat, white undershirt, clean apron, clean and dry side towels on their hip, clean checkers (pants), black socks, and clean, non-slip professional chef shoes. After more than twelve years as a chef, I believe I lie somewhere in the middle. This brings me to how I practiced professionalism. Today I went into work with my facial hair trimmed and cleaned up, which is where I’m usually most lacking, and decided that I would adhere to every part of the uniform that I previously mentioned and see if it changed anyone’s attitude towards me.

Much to my surprise, after only one shift, there were a few noticeable effects. First, I received a few comments on my appearance. A couple of different people told me I looked nice, and a few even mistook my cleaned up look as to think I got a haircut, which I didn’t. The real result I noticed was with a couple of newer employees, one intern from Spain, and another who just started with us very recently. I am a manager at my place of work, but not the type of manager who boasts his status, or demands extreme formality. However, formality is exactly what I got from these two employees when I concentrated on putting forth a professional look. Their communication with me, for the whole day, was very straight-forward, business related, and very formal as well, with one of them referring to me as “chef”.

It was more than just what others felt about my appearance, too. I felt good about the way I was presenting myself, and it gave me an added bit of confidence for the day. I don’t feel like I’m constantly thinking about they way I look and the message it conveys, but when you know you have a very professional look about you, it allows you to stay focused on the other parts of your work, and, in my case, gave me a strong sense of self-satisfaction.

This has, after only one day, led me to believe this may be a necessary next step in my career. I can’t help but feel like this is something that I’ve been ignoring, and that my appearance matters way more than I ever thought it did. There is no question I will continue to practice this notion of professional through appearance throughout this blog, and very likely beyond.

References

Powell, E. (2017, Sep 22). What Leadership Is. [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://medium.com/evan-powell/what-leadership-is-50a1d283a825