If you’re a leader of men and women looking for an easy way to improve your skills, examine your non-verbal communication. Elevating your body language can change the way your group responds to you and positively impact team performance.
My 9th grader just completed his first start as his JV high school football team’s QB. His team was trounced to the tune of 40-0. Chase was sacked no fewer than 8 times. He scrambled for his life on nearly every other pass play. This was your classic ass whipping from every vantage point.
I care minimally about the final score or even his performance. Instead, I watched how he got up after being hit and his response on the sidelines. I watched as he limped around, appearing weakened and tired. I also watched him finish with his head held up high.
My eyes weren’t the only ones trained on him; his teammates watched him for their cues. If you wear number 12, you sign up for that level of scrutiny. You are the leader by default, like it or not. Tom Brady is usually composed, but has come unglued at times. When he has, he understands it hasn’t gone unnoticed.
I think I have to do a better job with my body language. I definitely can improve that. I wouldn’t say it’s a real strong point of mine right now. We’ll just try to keep doing better. That’s what we’ve got to do.
Thanks, Tom. I’ll use this quote again when I post on accountability.
Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist and professor at Harvard Business and suggests:
“Certain “power poses” don’t just change how others perceive you, Professor Cuddy says. They immediately change your body chemistry. And these changes affect the way you do your job and interact with other people.”
The best leaders model behavior. They walk the walk. If it were as easy as following a script, any literate man or woman could be Martin Luther King Jr. His words were powerful, but his actions and non-verbal communication moved mountains. Take a look at this photo:
I don’t need to hear this man speak. Simply by looking at him, I care what he has to say. I inherently want to follow him. His cause becomes our cause, and I’m inspired to work for it. I can’t imagine him dragging his tail, even in the most dire straits. Biased? Absolutely. He’s my hero.
I had a minor league manager in 1997 that carried himself with superlative power, Dwight Lowry.
Dwight wore the strong, calm exterior that you see in this picture. Whether we were up ten runs or down ten runs, he was unflappable and perpetually approachable. Our club respected his consistent strength throughout the season. Once in a while, he’d display angry flames, but the fire always seemed within his command. I never once saw him hang his head after a tough loss. I aimed to emulate Dwight.
That’s not to say you cannot win with less than ideal countenance and posture. Eli Manning has won titles with questionable body language. Jay Cutler has won many games while appearing genuinely uninterested. I reckon these are outliers. Take a look at this man:
I feel sympathy for him, but a man completely dejected by his current circumstances does not sharpen me. Rather, I’m questioning his capability to bounce back on the next play. I’m looking to my teammate and gauging his mental toughness at all times.
There is certainly something endearing about vulnerability. Sharing imperfections allows others to feel safe with us. However, giving the impression that we are licked is a bad strategy when others depend on us for guidance. We want to know that when our leaders fail, they will quickly be back on the horse. We want to trust them. We want them to be strong where we are weak.
We are all human beings capable of being beaten down by the game, the business or life. Displaying genuine courage in those times inspires others to do the same and invigorates us at the same time.