Lead with the silent language that speaks loudly

by | May 31, 2011 | Blog | 0 comments

Why the big emphasis on body language now when we’re working more virtually, often wearing sweats, and clicking and texting away?

In her new book, The Silent Language of Leaders, author Carol Kinsey Goman persuasively explains how body language can help—or hurt—how you lead today. And just as convincingly, she paints a picture of how body language acumen is becoming an essential skill as our world becomes even more connected.

According to Carol, creating collaborative, networked teams that span corporate and national boundaries will be the only sure way to achieve future productivity gains.

This business approach requires leaders to rely more on their actions than their words. In particular, leaders’ actions need to show they “understand, support, and care about the people in their charge.”

To support collaboration, leaders must serve more as coaches and less as rulers. They need to be inclusive, transparent, and empathetic. That’s because “leadership becomes less about projecting power and more about building relationships.”

With leaders coaching on the front lines instead of giving edicts from corner offices, leaders will be more visible as well as available and accessible. As a result, employees will be able to watch their leaders’ cues more closely. They may see their leaders in person, on video, or through visual technology tools, such as Cisco’s TelePresence.

And during these interactions, people will note their leaders’ appearance, posture, gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, spatial relationships, and everything else that makes up the field of body language.

And because people read body language and other nonverbal communication instantly and subconsciously, they may make up their minds about your messages before you open your mouth. That’s one of the reasons why leaders need to learn how to match their body and verbal language as well as read the body language of others.

In her book, Carol explains how to use body language strategically to collaborate, negotiate, lead change, and work with global teams. She cites the neuroscience and other scientific research that shows the links between body language and leadership results.

This book either on its own or in combination with her earlier book, The Nonverbal Advantage: Secrets and Science of Body Language at Work makes a convincing case that this topic is worthy of study for anyone who strives to be a more effective leader.

Whether it’s a joyful topic is a totally different subject. I know that we’re in a visual revolution and people are expecting more visual contact. But I’ve never been all that comfortable on video.

And I have to confess when I’m around people who speak eloquently and possess extreme poise—such as Carol—my inclination is to feel intimidated. (And even though Carol—whom I know through IABC and The Communication Leadership Exchange (formerly Council of Communication Management, CCM)  —is very friendly and gracious regardless of the setting, I can’t let it out of my head that she’s an expert in body language and is watching me!!!)

So rather than improve my performance, I’d prefer to run off to the dog park and retreat to the company of dogs. Dogs could care less how people look and sound.

But then I realize the folly of my yearnings. Dogs are masters of reading body language and other signs. They often respond more to smiles, voice intonation, and hand gestures than they do words.

So I should take a deep breath and learn to master communicating better with body language. If I can build rapport with dogs and earn their trust, I should be able to do so with people…in person….or in video conferencing….not video yet though, please…..

How is your body language helping or hurting you?


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *