Monday, November 8, 2010

Leadership Secret # 39: Facial Hair and Perception

It's been 102 years since a U.S. President has been elected with facial hair - William Taft, 1908. Although I haven't got a chance to review the newly elected crop of Senators, currently there are none with facial hair and less than 10 percent of the U.S. House members are included in this group.  About 33 percent of American men and 50 percent of men World-wide sport a beard, goatee or mustache.  In the last 100 years with the crescendo of photography, video and media in general, the presence of any facial hair in the American male Population has waned.

Many studies have concluded that facial hair invokes feelings of distrust in others. Incredibly intriguing and in what should make any doubters take heed - this negative emotion-invoking property of facial hair has been shown to be very strong in PREVERBAL children. Thus, these negative feelings are "unlearned" to a degree as we age, but remain partially or entirely buried in our psyche - something to consider if you're in, or seeking, a position of leadership.

We all like to think we are the exception to the statistical rule. However, we are not really thinking - as much as we are rationalizing.