By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.
There have been times when I’ve joked that the only reason I was being included in a meeting was to provide the “eye candy.” For those of you who know what I look like, you understand the joke. Now don’t get the wrong idea. I certainly don’t think I’m ugly or unattractive, I happen to be just attractive enough. So what am I talking about?
Most people love being around beautiful, attractive people. But what happens when YOU are the beautiful, attractive person? If you want to be perceived as talented, approachable and helpful, all of which are key leadership skills, research indicates some real downsides if you are beautiful or extremely good looking.
One study conducted at the University of Southern Mississippi concluded that moderately attractive people are considered more helpful while super-attractive people are thought to be less helpful. A German study concluded that heterosexuals of the same sex attribute attractiveness and success to luck while attributing unattractiveness and success to talent. And finally, another study found that women feel better about their bodies after being around someone unattractive and worse about their bodies after being around a highly attractive person.
What to do? If you’re similar to me, no matter how hard I try, I don’t have to worry about this. Or do I? If I am in a leadership role and have a team member who is beautiful or extremely attractive, how am I treating him or her? Even though I started this article with a joke, this isn’t a joking matter. Everyone wants to be treated fairly regardless of what they look like. Beautiful people should not feel it necessary to hide their attractiveness. Instead, as leaders, we need to be vigilant about this potential bias and embrace the beauty in everyone by treating everyone fairly.
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