“Good leaders increase the perception of their leadership skills by increasing their knowledge of how to use body language.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)
“5 Body Language Gestures That Increase The Perception Of Leadership Skills”
People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.
What makes others perceive a leader as possessing good leadership skills, and how does a leader’s body language enhance or detract from that perception? That is a fundamental question for leaders to consider because it impacts their ability to lead others better. Thus, people will judge two leaders with equal capabilities as one being better than the other simply due to the body language gestures they emit.
What follows are five body language gestures to be aware of if you want followers to perceive your leadership skills as more viable than those with whom you compete. This knowledge will allow you to project your leadership presence in a more positive light, increasing the perception of being a better leader.
1. Body Movement And Posture
Imagine you are in an environment where a leader you do not know is about to speak. An image of their leadership abilities has already begun to form in your mind. You observe their stooped posture and slow gait as they approach the podium. Does your perspective of their leadership abilities change? Body movement and posture affect people’s perception of your abilities, which is even truer when they perceive you as a leader.
To be perceived as more powerful, make powerful gestures via your body movements. Imagine that same leader strutting towards the podium, head high and shoulders back, with their arms swinging in motion to the beat of their movement. Can you see a different image of their leadership abilities forming in your mind?
To enhance your leadership skills, strengthen the perception of others by moving with significant versus small gestures. Make yourself appear large. Let your body language state that you are the person in charge. Doing so will signal to others that you are someone with whom to reckon.
2. Hand Gestures
Leaders, in every environment they are in, convey hidden information via their gestures. And that is particularly true through their hand signals, which is why people notice hand movement first, more often than other gestures. To become more effective, leaders should be aware of how they engage in the following:
Open Hand Movements
Open hand movements, hands apart, open, and hands turned up, give the perspective that a leader displaying such gestures is receptive to a discussion and the message they deliver. A leader showing such gestures is likelier to be perceived as inviting, sincere, and not closed off.
Blocking Hand Movements
When a leader is opposed to a suggestion that they do not wish to engage further, they can display blocking hand gestures (i.e., hands out and pushed away from their body with palms down). When a leader synchronizes this gesture with their words, someone receiving the message knows there is no ambiguity in the leader’s position.
3. Facial Expressions – Frown, Smile, Disgust
Ask a few of your peers that know your leadership abilities to give you feedback about the following three gestures. Tell them you are seeking their feedback to enhance your leadership skills.
First, make a statement or request while frowning. Then, make the same sentiment with a smile and again while displaying disgust (i.e., as though you smell something foul).
What was your peers’ feedback? How did your exhibit of the gestures impact their perception of your leadership qualities?
During interactions with others, a frown, smile, or disgust conveys additional meaning per how you feel. Thus, be aware of when you commit each gesture and use them strategically, that is, intentionally.
4. Eye Contact
Eye contact, or the lack of it, can convey different sentiments based on how a leader wishes the signal to become perceived. For example, a leader can use a stare to indicate that they are not enamored with a situation, and the person towards whom they are projecting that display should not challenge them.
The dead-eye look, appearing to convey no emotions, can express disappointment, dismay, or no emotional tie to what they or others are discussing. The sparkle in a leader’s eyes sends the exact opposite signal. It says I like what I am saying or hearing, and I am pleased with it.
There is one last body language display that needs mentioning about eye contact, and it is eyebrows. Raised eyebrows are a signal of surprise.
To increase your leadership skills and the perception of your leadership abilities, be aware of what your raised eyebrows are signaling about what you are saying or hearing. If a leader raises their eyebrows when speaking, someone may perceive that action as the leader being unsure or unbelieving of what they are stating. In either case, that gesture could weaken the perception of the leader’s leadership skills and abilities.
5. Voice Inflection/Intonation Speed
A leader emits their inner mental sentiments outwardly by the tonality, inflection, and pace/speed at which they deliver their messages. And a leader can use that to enhance their leadership skills and abilities.
To do that, leaders should speak faster to incite excitement – slow their pace when they wish to emphasize specific points. And use tonality and intonation to highlight that emphasis. Never discount the value that a leader’s tone and pace of speech add to the leader’s perceived leadership skills and abilities.
The perception of a leader’s leadership skills and abilities will always be open to interpretation. But, a leader can enhance the perception of their leadership skills by being aware of how they use their body language.
Since body language is such an integral part of perception, once you adopt the insights presented here, you, too, will have others perceiving you as possessing more excellent leadership skills. And everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!
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