A few years ago, a small video of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was online in which he was literally strutting out of his official residence and addressing the barrage of media questions from the lawns. That clip showed him as sporty, fully in control, energetic and positive, key traits for a leader of that stature.
We’ve all heard that body language speaks louder than words, but do leaders need to adopt a different body language to be seen as effective and assertive? Yes, for sure. Because leaders have far more people watching their every move and they cannot just afford to send the wrong message.
Several world leaders and business leaders are known to be seen as cool when appearing in public or addressing their teams. From Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy whom I personally adore for their confidence in the way they carried themselves, to ex US President Barack Obama. They all have a special style. Barack Obama, for instance, always walked briskly and had sharp strides. His subtle use of hand gestures, body posture, his lean frame and gazing eyes made a sharp impact on people. Never one to shy from shaking hands with janitors and security personnel wherever he went, he came across as assertive and warm, approachable and yet powerful.
Why body language matters for leaders
Leadership is all about how people perceive you as a leader. And considering people form opinions in just 7 odd seconds, it’s all the more crucial to look and be assertive and credible for your role. If a leader appears lousy and shaky, people are quick to notice and will label him not worthy, even though he may have all the qualities that would have otherwise made him a good leader. It is a proven fact that our brains process what is being heard by combining it with visual clues, the latter making a far greater impact than the former.
Take for instance Richard Branson, who is frequently seen doing a fist bump in the air that denotes his energetic personality. Jack Ma who always has a double thumbs up sign. Marc Zuckerberg is famous for mimicking other’s movements and Steve Jobs’ direct gazing in the eyes of the audience that kept them hooked throughout his presentations. Read more....