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Body Language and Leadership Effectiveness – How to Achieve ‘Executive Presence’

From CommPro, written by Dr. Nick Morgan, Author:

Most of us think of charisma, or executive presence, as something mysterious and elusive that certain executives are born with or are trained to achieve in some executive school we haven’t been invited to.  We all know we need that mysterious quality when we’re in front of an audience, or in an important meeting, or taking part in a crucial negotiation.  But what is executive presence, or charisma, exactly?  Is it sprinkled like fairy dust on a few lucky individuals, or is it something anyone can learn?

Charisma or executive presence is something we all can learn.  In fact, it is relatively simple to understand.  But it takes real work to demonstrate it when it’s needed.  It consists of three related activities involving body language and your unconscious mind.

First, you need to understand that we are always communicating two conversations simultaneously – the content, what we’re saying, and the body language underlying it – which reveals our actual attitude toward what we’re saying.  So, to take a very simple example, if I say I’m excited to meet you, but my body language indicates that I’m unhappy, or distracted, or angry about something – I’ve got my arms folded, or I have a scowl on my face, or I’m looking over my shoulder at something else – then you won’t believe what I’m saying.  The body language always trumps the content.  It’s how we determine what we really are feeling toward each other.

So the first step to executive presence is to align your body language and your content.

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