Mature CEO looks are correlated with company performance

by on February 7, 2008 at 6:26 am in Economics | Permalink

When it comes to big business, appearances it seems, matter a lot.
Companies tend to be more profitable if they have a chief executive
with a face rated by observers as being more competent, dominant and

Similarly, companies with a chief executive judged to be
a good leader, based purely on his facial appearance, also tend to be
more profitable. These associations still hold even after controlling
for the influence of age and attractiveness.

As Nicholas Rule
and Nalini Ambady, who conducted the research, point out: it isn’t at
all clear whether chief executives with a certain kind of appearance
help their company towards profit, or if instead profitable companies
choose to employ chief executives who look a certain way.

Here is more information.

1 Grant February 7, 2008 at 7:29 am

I wonder how much correlation there is between the looks which make a good CEO, and the looks which make a successful politician?

What isn’t mentioned is how its easier to get ahead in all things if one looks confident, dominant and mature. People with that sort of look can do better in other environments that makes their resumes more attractive, so they are more likely to be eligible candidates for a CEO position. I suspect the influence of looks goes far beyond hiring practices.

That said, Bill Gates looks like a wimp, not a leader.

2 Greg Rehmke February 7, 2008 at 8:20 am

They saying “after a certain age a man is responsible for his own face” applies. People’s faces to some degree reflect their thinking and behavior. Male magazine models are an obvious example. They tend to be handsome, even beautiful, but they never seem to look authentic, especially when modeling business suits. They don’t look right portraying powerful and successful businessmen, because they aren’t and their faces cannot hide their lack of experience.

My point is that the reason appearance matters is that appearance reflects actual competence (especially in video or in person compared to still images). And though appearance of the CEO is a less than perfect indicator…compared to what? Dense financial documents?

3 Kevin Postlewaite February 7, 2008 at 12:11 pm

Perhaps all companies would prefer to hire CEOs with mature looks, but since successful companies can presumably bid more than the less successful, they are the companies which end up with these CEOs.

4 Holger Siebrecht February 7, 2008 at 1:39 pm

Is this the same stuy cited in The Economist a couple of weeks ago?

5 Christian Conkle February 8, 2008 at 8:09 am

The article doesn’t seem to specify where the images were obtained. It seems to me that the larger effect is the ability of the CEOs’ photographers and makeup artists to portray them as “competent, dominant and mature.”

6 Roy Funderburk February 10, 2008 at 1:25 pm

Personally, I believe this conversation could easily encompass all leaders and leadership – and not just CEOs. How many people will vote for the next President of the United States based solely on their appearance? Because he (or she; you’re welcome Hilary) “looks† like a president (or in this case a leader). Some people believe one’s looks have every bit as much to do with one’s success as education and/or experience. People are biological drawn to what appeals to them visually and otherwise.

Furthermore, a CEO or leader is often the representative sum of that which he represents. Who wants a feeble, unintelligent leader or CEO? And for that matter, who wants an eye-soar representing their city, state, country, or company? We like being associated with smart, successful, and YES beautiful people. Perfect example; examine all of the former Presidents of the US before and after public media. If you are honest, you notice a trend. Additionally, if you can find them, look at the runners-up. Maybe it’s just a coincidence†¦

7 machile May 13, 2009 at 3:51 am

Every success is based on continuous efforts. It is not possible be done over nigh. so he had this result is difficult

8 tom May 13, 2009 at 3:54 am

It is enlightening! we should study the successful men

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