How Your Body Language Conveys You’re a Leader—or Not. Nonverbal communication from executives can speak volumes to employees and others. For starters, don’t tilt your head. How do leaders carry themselves? In this video Vanessa shares how leaders have a different understanding and use of body language–and how you can adopt it.
How Your Body Language Can Tell People You’re a Leader—or Not
Written by By AIli McConnon
Nonverbal communication from executives can speak volumes to employees and others. For starters, don’t tilt your head.
For better or worse, C-suite leaders are always on display. And whether in a one-on-one meeting or speaking to a crowd of thousands, they are sending nonverbal messages that shape employees’ opinions of whether they are authentic and credible.
New research shows that striking the right balance of power and authority with warmth and empathy is essential. If executives’ body language conveys too many power signals, they appear aloof. But too much warmth can prevent them from setting themselves apart and commanding the attention of others.
Here are some of the most important cues:
When speaking to crowds large or small, a leader should hold his or her head straight and avoid tilting it or cocking it to either side, says Carol Kinsey Goman, an executive coach and author of the book “The Silent Language of Leaders.” The head can be tilted slightly back, but not too much; otherwise, the person may come across as arrogant.
Smiles should be used sparingly because too much smiling makes one seem weak. The most effective smile is one that starts small but grows when a person walks into a room or walks across a stage.
There is a “Goldilocks effect” with eye contact. Too little looks deceptive, but too much gives you the “stalker stare.” Goman advises focusing in the triangle formed by the eyes and forehead. Looking anywhere below the eyes can come across as inappropriate rather than businesslike.
Making a point.
When pointing, point with your whole hand rather than just their index finger, which comes across as aggressive and makes others uncomfortable.
Whether sitting or standing, “steepling” your fingers conveys confidence confident.
Leaders don’t hide behind a lectern, but move around on stage when speaking to convey energy and engage audiences, says Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School professor and author of the book “Presence.” Walking, pausing and then walking again works best, she says; too much movement can seem erratic.
Power of the pause.
Speaking slowly and pausing makes leaders seem more authoritative. The faster you talk, the less authoritative you appear to your audience, Ms. Cuddy says.