Reading body language: Leadership has many important facets but one of the most important is the nonverbal communication that underlies the body language of the leader. There are times where the actions of the body while communicating will erode the message from the leader.
At some point either our vocal words will betray us or the actions of the body will. There is however a downside and that is when people are watching you and listening have their own opinion to what your words and actions mean to them.
Reading body language of facial expressions
While watching the body language of a leader and interpreting their facial features may be the most telling and or damaging at the same time. Most people do not have the ability to hide what their face is doing. In many instances it is the hardened liar is used to keeping his or her facial features under wrap as to not give the emotion attention.
Most leaders who have spent time in front of audiences have had coaching as to what to do or not to do. Any body language coach worth their weight will help their clients learn to not use too many facial features because they may not connect with the viewer or client.
A good leader will keep their facial features blank when needed, disgusted when needed or even excited when needed. What you will find is that a well taught leader will use their facial expressions when needed and hopefully for them their body language that is being read will come across as confident. On the other hand you may have someone who is a great leader but has not been coached as to what to do in public who can lose credibility because of their lack of training.
Reading the body language of a leaders message
Leaders know that they will at some point not only be on the end of a good message but they will also be on the receiving end of a bad message. Now there will be a mix of the posture, facial expressions and the movements of their body will either make or break the message of the leader. When a good message is delivered it is hard for the leader to ruin their fortune with body language but it can be done. When a leader gets caught up with a bad question or message you will see with some people their body language “squirm” for either a fraction of a second or even a few seconds. The leader may show in their body language:
- · A new facial expression
- · A deep breath
- · The skin may become read or the leader may become blush
- · The leader may have a body part that starts shaking
- · The hands may now be used somehow to block the message or the answer
- · Verbally the leader may stutter or the real answer may even be revealed and then the body language follows
When a leader has to deliver a bad message they may show the signs of sympathy, their body movements may be slower, their facial features may show sorrow or frustration and or the body language of the leader may lose the appeal of confidence (sunk in shoulders, loss of the glide in the movements of the body)
Reading the body language of reactions to questions
When reading the body language of a leader you will see that leaders who have a bad message will flinch when a tough question is asked. The nonverbal communication of the leader may or will display just as it would when either getting or giving a good or bad message.
Usually a well-trained leader will know that a difficult question will be asked of them at the worst time and they have practiced scenarios so that their body language will not betray them. A well trained leader will also have been taught about composure when things are going well for them so that their reaction in their body language does not come across as gloating or arrogance.
Leaders who have made the mistake of lying in public and then have been caught wish that they would not have leaked their mistakes. There are some very specific things that people do when they lie:
- Touch their face
- · Become flush or blush
- · Cover their mouths after the lie or even try to shovel the words back into their mouths
- · Rub their bodies after the lie. The face, head, arms, legs or even the neck
- · Look another direction than what they were looking before
- · Lose composure of confidence
- · The blinking rate may increase
Now any of these actions for the body language of lying may happen by themselves of a few can work together in a cluster. This “cluster of lies” becomes evident as it happens for those who can read the signs and signals of liars or the body language of liars.
Watching a leader and looking at their body language can be an eye opening experience. You may want to watch to see if they are telling the truth or if they are lying. You may want to read the body language and nonverbal communications to tell if they would make a good leader. In your judgment remember that first you must watch them and baseline their actions to see what is normal vs abnormal and to also see if they are reacting to someone else.
As always I would like to thank you in advance for your comments and or questions about reading the body language of leaders.
Now go implement!
Scott Sylvan Bell
Business People Walking by Ambro,Business Woman With Laptop by David Castillo Dominici :Photo credits for reading body language of leaders