We generally don’t include the shape of a business exec’s face in our investing advice. But according to a new study, maybe we should.
In the November issue of the journal Psychological Science, a new study suggests that CEOs with wider faces achieve much greater financial performance than CEOs with thinner mugs.
Before you make your own face, there’s some legitimate science behind it. For the last few years, a number of studies have been published showing that greater facial width-to-height ratio (WHR) is associated with more aggressive behavior in men. Hockey players with wider faces spend more time in the penalty box. And men with higher facial width often feel more powerful.
“Researchers have theorized that this relationship exists because men with higher facial WHRs are physically (facially) imposing, which minimizes the chance of retribution for their aggressive actions,” says the study’s authors, who compared the photos of 55 male CEOs of publicly traded Fortune 500 organizations.
The idea is that the more powerful CEOs feel, the more they are and the more they tend to look at the big picture rather than focusing on the details. Some specific examples are cited, including General Electric’s broad-faced CEO Jeffery Immelt, who successfully transformed GE into a more eco-friendly company in 2004 despite almost unanimous disapproval of his plans from his leadership team.
While CEO physical characteristics are only correlated with financial performance (not causally linked), there does seem to be a connection between more aggressive leadership and successful organizations.
However, in our next investing column, I doubt we’ll mention whether Jamie Dimon’s bone structure is more physically intimidating than Howard Schultz’s.