“. . . cling to what is good.” – Romans 12:9
Casual dress codes, which evolved from the high tech Silicon Valley world decades ago, didn’t infect the pin-striped-buttoned-down Wall Street culture until around the mid-1990s. As manager of a business unit for a large Wall Street investment banking firm at the time, it put me in a bit of an awkward position as the boundaries were unclear as to what qualified as acceptable attire. Especially challenging for me as a man was dealing with these issues with the opposite sex. Who was I, after all, to judge acceptable women’s fashion? For the most part, though, the good folks on my staff used common sense in choosing their casual attire, thus thankfully there were few issues.
As for me, though, I chose to continue wearing the traditional pin-striped suits, starched shirts and silk ties. Some may have thought that to be a bit fuddy-duddy, an expression of unwillingness to change with the times. Not so, however, in fact I had no objections to the dress code change. Rather for me personally it was a business decision about how to present myself in such a way that would be most effective for the ongoing development of our business, and I believed – and still believe – appearance plays a role in that.
We all know that appearances can be deceiving. We also know that the ultimate measure of leadership is effectiveness. I do not pretend to believe that my appearance had any impact on that my personal performance or that of my team, except in providing a slight advantage in opening more doors more often. And believe me, we needed all the help we could get with that.
Our house will never be listed on the tour-of-homes, but we do keep our yard maintained and attractive, and our house is clean, tidy and comfortable inside. Nor will I ever appear on the cover of GQ, or Tee in a fashion magazine, but we do make a point each day to dress and groom neatly. Simply put it helps open doors so we can perform more effectively as human beings in our friendships, with neighbors, and those with whom we do business. So why did I keep wearing pin-striped suits when the rest of the world had gone casual? It worked! And as the Apostle Paul tells us, “. . . cling to what is good.”