Bow Tie Leadership

by | Apr 13, 2023 | Leadership

Bow tie leadership is a new term I made up. It came to me as I was preparing for a black-tie event I have coming up this weekend.   

I needed to get out my bow tie and remember how to tie it, something I’d never done until last year when I had a black-tie event. I was done with the clip-on ones and wanted to have an authentic bow tie instead.  

It’s been over a year since I needed to tie a bow tie, so last night, I got my bow tie out and watched some video tutorials showing how to tie it. I was watching the videos, remembering how to do it, and one part stuck out to me. They said that when you get it done and pull it tight, don’t worry if it’s imperfect. It’s not supposed to be perfect. Imperfections are to be expected; that’s what authentic bow ties look like. That’s one way to tell the difference between a clip-on bow tie and a real one.   

This idea made me think about leadership, as many things do. As leaders, sometimes we think we need to be perfect. We feel like we need to have all the answers and can’t let our guard down. We feel like our appearances have to keep up to show that we’re fully in control.   

If you’re in any kind of leadership role, you know this isn’t always possible. We don’t always have the answers. We aren’t always in control. We don’t have it all figured out. That’s authentic, like a real, tied bow tie.   

As I shared in a recent blog, A Leaders Most Powerful Words, one of the most powerful things we can do as a leader is to let our teams know that we don’t know. Ask for help and lean into the challenges. Leaders need to run toward the problems and help figure them out. This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect and have all the answers. Nobody does! Perfection is not what we’re chasing.  

Let your guard down and let people see the real you. Like an authentic bow tie, you may be a little off-centered and have imperfections, but you’re real! That’s how we should lead. That’s how we get the most out of people, the most buy-in, and the most help. If you surround yourself with the right people, they will lean in and help you. When that happens, it’s powerful and creates opportunities for everyone! Try it and let me know what you think! 

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About Me

I am the President & CEO of Service Express, a National Best & Brightest Company to Work For. Service Express has averaged double digit growth every year since 2001.

We attribute our success to a unique corporate culture that we call The Service Express Way. I am a member of the Young President Organization and sit on the Board of the Spectrum Health Foundation.