Are you a follower or a leader? No matter how you respond, we all know that leader is a more desirable position to hold. Great leaders typically share a few qualities—confidence, intelligence, and strength, to name a few—but one of the most intriguing is their appearance. With the right facial structure, and some well-rehearsed expressions, you can trick others into thinking you're leader material.
A number of studies have examined the connection between appearance and success. As Fast Company summarizes, researchers around the world have discovered that a wide face is tied to better corporate financial management; that a pretty face wins over voters; and that height indicates greater leadership capability.
Yet there are certain qualities that make strangers perceive some of us as more suited for leadership positions. According to Panu Poutvaara, an economics professor at the University of Munich, says it all comes down to our preference for the most attractive faces. Poutvaara, who was responsible for conducting the aforementioned research on attractive faces and voter response, believes that we subconsciously gravitate towards more traditionally "beautiful" candidates and ascribe our desired leadership qualities to them.
We all have our own opinions on what makes an attractive face, but according to science, there are right and wrong features. With the "right" kind of look, leadership comes naturally. Poutvaara notes that symmetrical faces are among the most desirable—but there are other, more distinct attributes that indicate strong leadership.
According to a research study led by Dr. Chris Solomon, different features indicate which men and women we place our confidence in. We gravitate towards men with sharper bone structure and more rectangularly-shaped faces, clear skin, and straight lips. When it comes to women, leadership and attractiveness are signaled by oval faces, wide, attentive eyes, and distinct eyebrows with an arch. Another study by Princeton University researchers corroborated some of Solomon's findings, as participants were drawn to faces with wider eyes.
Additionally, Daniel E. Re, who led a similar study, found that more masculine faces are attractive in potential leaders. Longer faces also signaled strength, as research participants ranked both men and women with longer faces as more "leader-ish." Those with long faces were especially more attractive as leaders when participants were considering who would make a better wartime leader.
Aside from undergoing plastic surgery to change your face, how are you supposed to imitate bone structure you don't have? With a few tricks, you can adopt your own spin on the confident leader face type.
Men can consciously adjust their facial features depending on the situation and environment. Trying to convey your power in an interview or important meeting? Keep your lips from curling by avoiding slight smiles and full-on grins, which will offer more of that straight-lipped look. When sitting and standing, emphasize your height with perfect posture. The taller and sturdier you appear, the more you'll command the room. Try not to allow your shoulders to roll forward and droop along with your strong stance.
Women, thanks to makeup, will have an easier time tweaking the features they've had since birth. Filling in your eyebrows with a brow pencil, or even similarly-colored mascara, will create the dark and dramatic look of a powerful woman without changing their shape. With a combination of your eyelash curler, mascara, and dark eyeliner, you can draw attention to your eyes no matter their size or shape.
If you weren't born with the features science ascribes to potential leaders, don't run to the nearest surgeon. No matter your perceived attractiveness or physical structure, you, too, can posit yourself as an excellent candidate. Focus on letting your warm, engaging personality—and your firmest handshake—shine. The more pulled together and professional you appear, the more people will believe you possess leadership skills and others.