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January 17, 2022

Want to be CEO? You'd better be slim and trim, report suggests

Close your eyes and picture the perfect company CEO.

What's he, or she (though, really, not often are they shes), look like? What is he, a 40-something, 50-something white guy? Six feet-plus, thin and with a good head of hair?

Of course there is the hair. All CEOs seem to boast a thick head of hair. Almost presidential hair. Okay, not you, Lloyd Blankfein.

But according to a new study, most important about an executive's appearance may be their size. In other words, if you're not slim and trim, you're going to have a much harder time reaching that corner office.

Weight, of course, is a taboo conversation piece in the modern office, but perceptions about it are decidedly important, says a new survey from the non-profit Center for Creative Leadership.

*Bing: Do you need to lose weight? Find out here

Data compiled by the center suggests that executives with larger waistlines tend to be perceived as less effective on the job, both in their day-to-day duties and relationships with co-workers.

"Because the demands of leadership can be quite strenuous, the physical aspects are just as important as everything else," Sharon McDowell-Larsen, an exercise physiologist that works with the center, told the Wall Street Journal.

What follows this observation, then, is a bit of a chicken-and-egg quandary: will overweight executives appear to perform poorly at their jobs, or will their size keep them from ever reaching an executive position in the first place?

Chances are -- and we're going to abstain from naming names -- you can picture at least one portly CEO or executive. There may even be one at your company.

But you could also likely peg five, maybe ten, thin, fit CEOs for every overweight one, a pattern the Center for Creative Leadership found using data from 757 executives measured between 2006 and 2010.

Many execs now, the Wall Street Journal  reports, have put physical fitness as a top priority, if for nothing else that to better appear  they can handle the strains of leadership.

What we also know, however, is that after the high-profile death of former McDonald's CEO Jim Cantalupo, getting healthy isn't the only way to save your job. It's a way to save your life, too.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...