Why Neatness and Cleanliness Matter in Leadership

June 13, 2023

home office

Overview: We perceive organized, neat, and clean people as those whose lives and affairs are in order and who control their minds and environments. Coincidentally, these are some of the traits we like to see in our leaders. A tidy, clean workspace also boosts our ability to focus, making us more productive.

“Cleanliness is a mindset – a positive habit that keeps the body, mind, and environment happy, healthy, simple, neat, and delightful.” – Amit Ray.

Like other undertakings in life, leadership benefits from simplicity, neatness, and healthiness. Being neat and clean reflects professionalism, attention to detail, and a high level of organization for a leader. These positive traits make it easier for leaders to build trust and interact meaningfully with others.

We’re programmed to appreciate tidiness, simplicity, and cleanliness. These qualities tell us much about our environment and the people with whom we deal.

Leaders’ appearances and how they keep their workplaces let us know whether they’re slobs incapable of organizing the most elementary things around them, or strong leaders who lend structure and clarity to everything they touch.

What Neatness Says About Leaders

In addition to making a leader appear as a follower of rules (and thus someone who leads by example), tidiness and a well-organized workplace inspire trust in other ways.

Setting a Positive Example

By keeping their workspaces tidy, leaders demonstrate self-respect and respect for their peers.

“Cleanliness is not a discipline. It’s an expression of love and regard for all lives around us.” – Sadhguru. 

At the same time, they set an example employees will feel encouraged to follow. A tidy leader is a worthy face of an organization and an equally worthy organizational trendsetter. Leadership coaching sees setting a positive example as a central element of intelligent leadership.

Boosting Productivity

A well-organized, neat workspace is void of distractions and helps employees focus on their work.

Those who spend several minutes every day looking for files on a disorganized, cluttered table grow easily frustrated and are less productive than their peers.

Broadcasting a Professional Image

Leadership coaching is aware that a neat workspace advertises professionalism. For organizations that work with people, neatness is a must. First impressions are powerful, and nothing creates a better first impression than a well-organized, neat, and clean client reception desk and area.

Boosting Safety

In many cases, neatness is the key to avoiding work-related accidents and infections. A filthy office with stale air is an ideal environment for infections to spread. Organizations that neglect cleanliness may find themselves deprived of a significant part of their workforces due to infectious diseases.

In addition to their direct impact on health, clutter and filth also affect how our brains work.

How Clutter and Filth Affect the Brain

Filling your home or workspace with lots of “stuff” is counterproductive on many levels. It makes it harder to keep the place clean and it drains your mind.

Executive coaching professionals understand the value of focus. With less stuff around to distract us, we can handle our tasks better, direct our focus to where it needs to be, and become more productive.

Desk with laptop and plant.
Your workspace is a reflection of your state of mind.

Scientists have proven the negative effects of clutter and filth on our brains. The brain likes order and simplicity. Its tendency to look for patterns in chaos and to try and make sense of disorganization is well known. When chaos rules the environments around us, our brains constantly struggle to sort things out. This constant subconscious effort drains our cognitive resources and affects our ability to focus.

Living and working in clutter also makes us more likely to procrastinate. Procrastination is not the only negative behavior clutter can trigger. It could also condition our brains to watch more TV or snack on junk food to cope with the overload.

As a result of the subconscious stress to which it subjects the brain, clutter can make us anxious and depressed. Leaders’ workspaces reflect their state of mind, and people pick this up, executive coaching professionals included.

No one likes a chaotic, disorganized leader who can’t keep a work desk tidy. How could such a person organize and direct a team?

Contact us to learn more about how you can join the IL Movement as a coach or how you can benefit from partnering with us to bring IL Solutions to you and your organization.

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