You know it when they walk into the room. There’s a gravitational pull towards them. Call it charisma, call it gravitas, call it whatever you want, but they have it.
It’s the look and sound of an effective leader.
How do they do it?
The secret lies beyond just the words and actions, to the more subtle messages that leaders send every day through their actions (or inactions) with their teammates.
These subtleties are critical, but yet they can be incorporated into your leadership practice almost immediately.
Here’s a list you can start working on right now to be a better leader:
- Eye Contact – Nothing says “I’m paying attention to YOU” better than actually looking someone in the eye. Constantly looking somewhere else sends a dangerous message of disinterest.
- Good Posture – Slumped shoulders and rounded backs are never good ways to project authority and control (hint: practice this in front of a mirror and you’ll see what I mean). In fact, in a very popular TED talk, social psychologist Amy Cuddy makes the case that standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident, has great impact on our chances for success – and there’s science behind it to boot.
- Volume & Timbre – Really pay attention to the timbre of your voice. Is it too loud? Too soft? Too monotone? Always strive to match the ebbs and flows of your words with the proper inflections, so the context is not lost.
- Word pace – Recall all the great leaders you admire – I bet there’s not a fast talker in the bunch. Talk too fast, and the message gets buried. But if you go too slow, you’ll lose the audience. Think of the metronome you used when you took piano lessons, and work on a steady rhythm. Tick, tock. Tick, tock….
- Facial Expressions – Make sure you are not sabotaging your message by over-emphasis (check the eyebrows in particular), or by wearing a half-smile or smirk that reeks of condescension. The face can’t be a blank canvas either, so modulate to a quiet intensity that clearly shows confidence and passion for the topic.
- Pause Filters – Focus not so much on the words, but on the spaces between the words. Make sure you link sentences together crisply, without the use of too many “Ahhs, Ummms, or “You knows“. These “pause fillers” can give the impression that you are rambling on and on.
- Smiles – You know the saying “a picture says a thousand words“? If a leader is trying to project positivity, humility, graciousness, optimism, openness, and a general good nature, smiling whenever possible is a great place to start.
Go get it, and lead well!
Some people just have it. How do YOU get it? Here’s a list you can start working on right now to be a better leader.