Driving, swimming and being pregnant are good examples of when "fake it until you make it" is clearly not a good idea. Surprisingly, though, there are a lot of great times when this philosophy can really benefit us at work.

Here are three scenarios where a quick fake can have a positive impact.

Being organized

Envy the people who know where everything is? Love the Pinterest images of clutter-free desks with just a bud vase, blooming flower and a white pen?

This is one area where it is really easy and relatively harmless to pretend. Whether we have the intention of ever becoming more organized or not, we can easily empty a desk drawer and throw everything in it except the bud vase, flower and pen.

Why bother? Because our co-workers and our bosses are judging us. And they need to work with us. Thus, it is up to us to make sure our space conveys the image and receptivity we intend to present.


And speaking of image, our physical presentation — clothes and composure is another simple way to make an immediate shift. Look around a busy airport or office lobby during the week, and it is easy to guess what people do, what they are like, and how successful they are in just the instant they walk by.

Fortunately, like our desks, we can take a quick peek in the mirror and make a few simple changes to our appearance to ensure we are projecting an image consistent with the employee or leader we want our co-workers to see. Good grooming and a nice posture are two simple, high-impact changes we can implement almost instantly.

Personal challenges

Co-workers may know a lot about us, but they do not know everything. The fears, limits and constraints we set on ourselves are in our own minds.

Our co-workers, on the other hand, only see what we do and hear what we say. Thus, if we are about to do something that will be personally uncomfortable for us make a presentation, negotiate our salary, or close a deal, for example no one must know we are uncomfortable.

Find a role model of the behavior you want to exhibit and emulate it. Norman Vincent Peale wrote the classic book about it; Amy Cuddy gives fantastic examples of how to implement physical changes to positively impact our presence; and positive psychologists continue to find scientific evidence supporting the idea.

The bottom line is: If we want to become a composed, organized and professional-looking leader, it might help to start practicing right now. However, if we just want to look like one, we can do that overnight.