Did you know that nonverbal communication is key to successful leadership? Everyone’s leadership style is entirely unique, but matching your actions, policies and behaviours with the things you say can be a great way to harness success. Here are a few tips:
You cannot understand authenticity until you see yourself in the eyes of your juniors. They will be able to make a judgement about your character based solely on the way you present yourself: body language never lies. Therefore, the empathy you express through your movements and gestures needs to stem from a genuine caring attitude.
Many struggle to build strong relationships with their staff members and followers, and will be surprised to discover that empathy might be what’s missing. People trust leaders whose body language is warm, open and inclusive. Evaluate how you are standing, speaking and positioning yourself, and prioritise trustworthiness over the projection of authority.
Take a breather
Although power and authority are of course vital attributes in a leader, you don’t want to appear aggressive or rigid in your meetings. Take a few deep, calming breaths before you enter the meeting room to release built-up tension in your joints. Your new relaxed stance will echo in the bodies of your team, in a process called emotional contagion. This is bound to increase team productivity.
As a leadership figure, your juniors will be watching your emotional cues and subconsciously copying them. The same goes for stakeholders, interviewees and potential partners. During a one-on-one meeting, try leaning back in your seat, away from the table: the likelihood is that your partner will do the same.
By sitting upright, you will immediately appear more attentive, and the person opposite will feel calmer and willing to share. This is a great way to build rapport.
The smallest gestures make a big difference, and this includes the placement of your hands. Closed hands signal that you are not open for discussion – an ideal technique to appear decisive when closing a deal. On the other hand, placing your hands in front of you on the table, palms-up encourages a sharing, open environment.
Adapt your body language to suit your needs as a leader. Don’t neglect the importance of purposeful, meaningful gestures and stances if you want to nurture a positive working environment and see your company thrive.