This past weekend was the London Marathon, one of my favourite events of the year. I am fortunate enough that it starts in my neck of the woods near Greenwich and it is a fantastic sight seeing the elite athletes and then the surge of runners afterwards, some dressed in ridiculously cumbersome costumes.
I am not much of a runner, except for the occasional dash to catch the train, but as an acupuncturist I obviously appreciate the benefits of wellbeing through a healthy and clean body and mind. My work involves helping people deal with physical or emotional and mental strains on the system but I also take pride in my work with cosmetic facial acupuncture. There is often a certain bias against it, as if helping someone look good is not as worthy as helping relieve someone’s back pain.
Well it appears that both are equally important, especially in how the world perceives us.
An article in the Harvard Business Review discussed results from a study done at VU University of Amsterdam and published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, which showed that for leaders, looking healthy mattered more than looking smart:
“Four faces were created, all of them clean-shaven white men who were not wearing glasses or jewelry. The researchers then manipulated those faces to make their “person” appear more or less healthy and more or less intelligent, based on previous research on assumptions based on facial features. The researchers then showed pairs of these faces to 148 participants recruited online. For each pair, participants were given one of four fictional company scenarios and asked to choose the new CEO of the company. The four scenarios outlined the CEO’s primary responsibility, either engaging in an aggressive competition strategy, renegotiating a key partnership agreement with another company, leading a new entry into an unknown market, or supervising the continued exploitation of non-renewable resources.
When the researchers tallied the choices of all the participants, both healthy and intelligent-looking leaders were chosen more often. However, health cues were more clearly influential in choosing a leader than intelligence cues. In 69 percent of choices, participants favored more healthy-looking faces over less healthy-looking faces.
According to the paper, “a relatively healthy-looking leader may have a better chance of gaining sufficient levels of followership investment to initiate change. On the other hand, a potential leader who looks relatively less healthy may be over-looked even if they are better suited for the job.”
The take-home from this study is that being healthy matters and I know that if you look good, you definitely feel good. So go out and enjoy the sun, get that new pair of shoes or have a relaxing acupuncture session. Those who take care of themselves on the outside are inevitably the ones who will take better care of themselves on the inside.
For Leaders, Looking Healthy Matters More than Looking Smart | Harvard Business Review
Image: Flickr, Caden Crawford
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