There is a face for business – and it looks like this

Retired general Colin Powell has a face for business

Successful business leaders around the world appear to favor each other in acumen and face value.

What do leaders look like? It depends on where they lead: in business, sport or the military, a Warwick Business School study has found.

Pictured: Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo CEO), Mike Ditka (former NFL football coach) and Brian Sandoval (governor of Nevada).

In the study, 614 UK participants were shown a series of US faces – CEOs, generals, state governors and football coaches – and were asked to categorise the faces.

The subjects managed to pick a military leader and a chief executive from a football coach significantly more than mere chance would suggest. 

Dr Dawn Eubanks, a behavioural science expert at Warwick Business School, says the most plausible explanation for the results is that leaders are being selected, at least partly, according to how they look.

“Leaders may benefit not just from having competent or attractive looking faces,” she says, “but also from having facial features that ‘fit’ a stereotype uniquely associated with their particular domain.”

In a further test, a new set of 929 participants were asked to rate 80 of the leaders’ faces on aspects such as trust and likeability. 

“Stereotypical-looking business leaders were evaluated as having particularly competent faces and military leaders were identified as having more masculine and mature faces than the other types of leaders,” says Eubanks.

This article is from the July issue of INTHEBLACK

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