Hair has always been an issue. Whether we are talking about history, culture or religion, there is certainly a lot of significance attached to hair. In addition, when we are looking at photos of ourselves in our formative years; the thing that usually gets noticed first is our hair. And whilst it is all too easy to dismiss this topic as frivolous and unimportant, the reality is that our hair matters.
On November 8th 2016 the USA went to the polls. Despite the fact that this particular election cycle appears to have been the longest, and certainly the most divisive in US history, it has created history. And what’s the thing that people often comment about in relation to Trump’s appearance? Of course it is the hair.
In the UK, we have a female Prime Minister, as well as female First Ministers for Scotland and Northern Ireland. The first female Presidential candidate was nominated by the Democratic party this year. The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund is also a woman and of course, the list goes on. One of my absolute favourite TV shows ever is ‘VEEP', (a political satire based on the Vice President of the US, who again happens to be a woman), and even in this brilliant show, there was an absolutely hilarious episode that focused on her hideous haircut.
The question is of course: 'so what’? Well, all of the politicians I’ve named so far - and there are many more besides - have a particular type of hairstyle. It is shorter, shaped into a ‘bob’ style that now has the moniker of a ‘pob'. The political bob. This type of hairstyle is all about power. A women taking on a somewhat masculine style and softening it just enough to be feminine, in order to succeed in a male dominated political world. It¹s about authority, impact and strength. Long, luxurious locks don¹t work well for politicians because of the potential to convey frivolity and unnecessary expense in keeping it looking good. In addition, there are some social psychology studies that would suggest long hair can be associated with weakness. Hippies have long hair. Forbes magazine published the ’50 Most Powerful Women In Business’ and only eight women on it had long hair. A shorter style conveys control and power in a business world still dominated by men. Where hairstyles are longer, is in traditionally female dominated professions, which is more than a mere co-incidence. Ironically I have long hair. It's styled on Cruella De Vil and in combination with being tall, wearing high contrast black and white a lot, having a more dramatic sartorial style, a ‘flat’ face and an opinion on most things; my hair length is the one attempt to ‘soften' my appearance and appear less scary.
So, should we all rush out and get our haircut? Actually no.
Leaders with Executive Presence put intention and consistency into their look – and so their hair is an important component of doing this successfully. What is essential for professional women everywhere is to have a cut that suits the face and manage the condition of it first and foremost. We shouldn’t fiddle with it endlessly in the office and if we add colour; we should look after it (as roots are never a good look). As leaders we have our own leadership style; and we all have different ways to convey power and authority. For some, this means a trip to the hairdressers.