The Body Language of Leadership
Just as you are reading other people’s body language, they are reading yours. How do you want to be perceived? The signals you send with your face, eyes, posture, and gestures can define you as either someone on the way up or on the way down.
If you want to communicate leadership with your body language, posture is everything and tops the list of many advice articles on how to appear authoritative. Standing up straight with an open body and no crossed limbs makes you look assertive, and according to psychology studies, more attractive.
Be aware of your facial expressions. This is doubly true in video conferences because everyone is staring at a group of faces. While you shouldn’t feel compelled to smile, smiling makes people feel more at ease. However, people might feel uncomfortable if your smile looks fake. We trust genuine smiles but become suspicious of those that are not.
You should think about mirroring other people’s expressions to match the tone of the conversation. Do they look serious? Then so should you. If they are laid back, adopt a similar guise. Look for people nodding their heads as this is one of the best nonverbal cues you have made a connection with that person.
Always be aware of your eye contact. You show respect and interest by maintaining eye contact, but don’t overdo it to the point where someone feels threatened or unnerved
People rarely think of handshakes as body language, but they are literally the body saying hello to someone else. People with firm handshakes are seen as more confident, outgoing, and positive. Just as with eye contact, don’t overdo the firmness of a handshake, as that is a sign of aggression. Practice your handshake frequently and ask for feedback from friends.
Of course, keep the context in mind. Eye contact can mean different things in different countries, as can touching, hand gestures, and handshakes.
There are many forms of nonverbal communication and mastering body language will greatly improve your abilities with the rest. You can employ your body language to appear assertive or friendly and collaborative. You can use it to calm someone down or persuade them. You should always remain keenly aware of all you’re communicating in non-verbal ways. You should also master the skill of interpreting what others are communicating, keeping in mind different cultures and things such as gender will influence body language often in subtle ways.
Our body language often defines us and is one of the most useful tools a leader can use to understand team dynamics and what’s being said.
For more information on business communication strategies, click on the link to Body Language Part One — The Basics