The Top 3 Nonverbal Cues That Convey a Strong Sense of Leadership

The most effective leaders exude executive presence. Though executive presence undoubtedly draws on steadfast communication, many other skills that are nonverbal play a key role in conveying this magnetic sense of leadership. Let’s look at these nonverbal cues that could be areas of opportunity for you to improve.

Nonverbal Leadership Cue #1: Confidence

The Cue: Confidence encompasses the way in which a leader carries himself or herself, their willingness to take up space, speak up, and act on their ideas. Confidence is crucial to executive presence and stands as an overarching trait that tends to direct many other cues, both verbal and nonverbal. A confident leader feels comfortable in his or her own skin and conveys this through their nonverbal body language.

Nonverbal CuesWithout it: Those with low confidence are easy to spot. A slouching, shrinking position or quiet tone may cause these individuals to come across as tired, disinterested, or jittery.

With it: Confident leaders aren’t hesitant to jump into the conversation and are engaged even from a nonverbal viewpoint. Whether sitting or standing, this person’s posture is tall and straight with their feet firmly planted on the floor and a bit of a wider stance.

Nonverbal Leadership Cue #2: Composure and Awareness (EI)

The Cue: Being a successful leader is much more than mastering communication on your end. Knowing yourself and having the ability to make sound decisions under pressure is essential, but being able to pick up on others’ emotions in order to shift your own responses is equally as important.

Without it: If you don’t understand your emotions or others’, it’s almost impossible to lead and maintain respect from other people.

With it: Leaders with executive presence have advanced Emotional Intelligence (EI); they’re masters of tailoring their delivery and next steps to the responses of others. If you’re observant to others’ nonverbal cues, a shift in a person’s tone, a perked-up posture, or a change in facial expression can give you vast contextual insight into what they’re feeling and what your reaction should be. Improved EI allows you to build trust with your team and shows them that you’re someone who has compassion for and dedication to their needs.

Nonverbal Leadership Cue #3: Eye Contact

The Cue: Eye contact is one of the biggest nonverbal cues in relationship building (inside and outside of leadership). It shows that you’re engaging others while you’re speaking and that they have your full attention while you’re listening.

Without it: If you’re not maintaining good eye contact with others, those you’re speaking to may get the feeling that you aren’t fully invested in what you’re saying because there’s something else on your mind. On the flip side, we should note that proper eye contact isn’t a staring contest either!

With it: When addressing a group, leaders who are naturals when it comes to eye contact will cycle through the faces in the room, acknowledging each person for 2 to 3 seconds. This helps your audience engage in what you have to say and lets them know that you’re devoted to the exchange. Having team members return the favor shows that they’re listening and reciprocating this crucial nonverbal connection.

Strong Leaders Are Masters of Both Words and Actions

Are you satisfied with your performance in the areas of confidence, composure and awareness, and eye contact? Executive coaching can help executives grow in these nontraditional leadership areas to accelerate and enrich their performance.

Want to find out more about the process can help? Download our free eBook guide How Does an Executive Coaching Engagement Work?



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