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The Surprising Ways Eyewear Affects How Leaders Are Perceived

Eyewear like sunglasses and prescription glasses have become common worldwide as more people use them for style or function. Statistics highlight how the global eyewear market will reach $223.22 billion in 2030, from $126.09 billion in 2022 at a CAGR of 7.40%. People often rely on eyewear for vision problems, including near-sightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism— improving their overall quality of life. But aside from resolving vision concerns, eyewear is making a splash in leadership development.

From famous names like Steve Jobs to Larry King, plenty of leaders and visionaries are known for wearing glasses. Their glasses have become a crucial part of their identity, with many of these leaders becoming less recognizable without their signature pairs. Given that it’s not an isolated experience, it’s essential to explore how eyewear can affect how leaders are perceived and how they can harness this tool to enhance their leadership experience.

Boosts confidence and self-image

Over the years, glasses have become less associated with being “nerdy” and “insecure”; in fact, they’re not always associated with intelligence either. These perceptions largely stem from different areas and ethnicities, driving whether a person is perceived as intelligent when wearing glasses. In the West, glasses not only represent knowledge and education, but they also stand for confidence and competence. Furthermore, using eyewear gives a sense of professionalism, which can help leaders in a business setting build a stronger self-image.

However, leaders must first find the right glasses that flatter their faces. People who are overly conscious of their appearance may overthink their self-image, so being sure of the right pair can help retain that boost of confidence. Leaders should also factor in features such as their face shape, underlying skin tones, and personal style to ensure they remain their eyewear look reflects their best, authentic selves.

Makes you look younger and more trustworthy

Being trustworthy is one of the critical steps to bridging the gap between yourself and other people, especially when you’re trying to lead a team. It usually takes time to build trust, but it can be easier to convince people to trust a leader whenever they are wearing glasses. Wide-rimmed glasses and warmer tones are a great way to transform your face into a younger disposition, inviting people to trust you more.

If you’re looking for a pair, Oakley offers a wide selection of quality prescription eyeglasses for various face shapes and sizes, including both timeless and unique styles. One pair that balances style and formality is the Oakley Holbrook, one of the brand’s classic styles that feature a square frame and a wraparound model. Colors like black give off a classic and professional vibe, but it’s also available in clear and tortoiseshell for a younger and warmer look. Do note that while glasses may improve the perception of trust, they won’t replace essential leadership skills like emotional intelligence and communication. It’s still crucial for leaders to make an effort to be worthy of others’ trust.

Sense of power

Most people will not wear sunglasses indoors, but some leaders are known for wearing them as part of their brand. For instance, President Joe Biden is known for putting on gold-rimmed aviators—again designed by Ray-Ban, specifically the 3025 model—as part of his strong, masculine image, which has since become an inseparable part of his political persona. Many celebrities also wear sunglasses, even during indoor events like the Oscars ceremony and Vanity Fair; you’re likely to describe a female celebrity in sunglasses and a power suit as a “girlboss” because of this type of outfit.

Aside from looking fashionable, leaders and celebrities go out of their way to wear sunglasses to hide their eyes and facial expressions. Often, this enables them to maintain a polished demeanor that would otherwise give them away— allowing them to maintain respectability and a sense of power, even if they aren’t really feeling it.

Eyewear can surprisingly go a long way in supporting leadership behaviors. But while these can make for great first impressions, leaders must practice fundamental leadership values to maximize the benefits of these physical tools.