This article in the WSJ talks about the “Boss Effect” and how a lack of smiling indicates a person feels he has power. It also indicates a competitive nature. I can see how controlled facial expressions can send a message of authority.

But, if you are an executive looking for a new opportunity, the Boss Effect could be hurting your future.

Here’s why…

It’s one thing to be the current leader of an organization who feels they must present themselves in a serious manner as a way to command respect and drive productivity in a particular situation. It’s another to be an executive looking for a leadership opportunity who comes across as stuffy and self-important due to lack of facial expressions.

Caution: Lack of Emotion in Opportunity Search is Suspect

The method of projecting authority through intimidation is an “old school” tactic that isn’t respected by younger generations (ages 50 or younger). Leading in this fashion is seen as an outdated, ineffective approach by someone who is fearful of losing control.

Or, even worse, lacks the emotional intelligence to understand how their personality is impacting the organization.

Which means, conveying that style while looking for your next c-suite opportunity could make you come across as arrogant and out-of-touch with what the market needs. If you are looking for a new role, it’s time to warm-up your smile to connect more deeply with the people you meet.The new way to wield authority is by showing a calm, relaxed and happy professional disposition.

Solution: Topics that Generate Your Smile

When I work with executives looking for their next opportunity, I often see this overly serious attitude. Mostly, because they are worried about not finding a new position and the affect it is having on their reputation. This mindset makes it hard for them to convey the smiling attitude necessary today. So, they naturally fall into the pattern of “command-and-control” that makes them appear very intense.

To elminate this, I help them create an “authority platform.” It’s a set of topics they are passionate about and enjoy discussing because they feel confident in their ability to add value to the conversation. They then use this platform to create content that drives their networking efforts so the conversations and connections have a more positive tone. The results are more powerful discussions and an increase in referrals to new opportunities.


The executive makes a better impression that is in alignment with what is expected today.

In summary, if you are an executive who can’t generate a smiling attitude while seeking opportunities, you need to consider building an authority platform as a way to improve the effectiveness of your efforts in the new economy.

Don’t get branded as an over-the-hill executive with an attitude problem!

P.S. – First time reading my posts? Thanks for taking the time to stop by! Not only do I write for LinkedIn, but I’m also founder of a popular career advice site,CAREEREALISM,and currently run the career coaching program,CareerHMO. I hope you’ll check them both out!