Act Like the Leader You Want to Be | Summary and Q&A

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June 26, 2017
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Stanford Graduate School of Business
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Act Like the Leader You Want to Be

TL;DR

Non-verbal communication is a critical aspect of effective leadership, as it can greatly impact how others perceive and respond to a leader's messages and actions.

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Key Insights

  • 🚱 Non-verbal communication is a crucial component of effective leadership, influencing how others perceive and respond to a leader's messages and actions.
  • 🤫 Authoritative non-verbal communication includes behaviors such as slowness, stillness, silence, symmetry, and occupying physical space.
  • 👾 Approachable non-verbal communication includes behaviors such as filling space, speaking or moving quickly, folding the body, fidgeting, making and breaking eye contact, and giving space to others.
  • 🤳 Improving non-verbal communication skills involves self-awareness, observation, and practice, and can be further developed through acting classes or improvisational acting.
  • 🤩 Authenticity is key in non-verbal communication, as it involves finding a truthful place within oneself and bringing that authenticity to interactions.
  • 🐢 Preparing for important meetings or presentations by adopting specific non-verbal behaviors, such as expanding the body or using slow and low tones, can help leaders project confidence and set themselves up for success.
  • 🚱 Small changes in non-verbal behavior can make a significant impact, and leaders can use techniques such as pausing, taking a breath, checking notes, or getting a drink of water to reset and improve their communication in real-time.

Transcript

[MUSIC] You can't afford to not be good at this. You're dependent on your job as a leader to get other people to take actions. You need to be skilled in relationships, in influence and communication. There's no getting around it. So it gets labeled as soft skills but it's really a hard business driver. And there's hard science underneath it that we... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: Why are non-verbal communication skills important for leaders?

Non-verbal communication skills are important for leaders because they greatly influence how others perceive and respond to their messages and actions. Leaders who excel in non-verbal communication can effectively motivate and inspire their team members.

Q: What are some behaviors associated with authoritative non-verbal communication?

Authoritative non-verbal communication behaviors include slowness in movement and speech, stillness, comfortable silence, symmetry in body posture, and occupying and owning physical space.

Q: What are some behaviors associated with approachable non-verbal communication?

Approachable non-verbal communication behaviors include filling space by avoiding silence, speaking or moving quickly, folding the body through crossed arms or legs, fidgeting, making and breaking eye contact, and giving others space to take and share.

Q: How can leaders improve their non-verbal communication skills?

Leaders can improve their non-verbal communication skills by first becoming self-aware and observing their own behaviors in various situations. They can also learn from observing others, especially those in higher positions, and emulate their successful communication styles. Additionally, participating in acting classes or improvisational acting can help leaders practice and refine their non-verbal communication skills in a safe and supportive environment.

Summary

In this video, the speaker emphasizes the importance of developing strong communication and influential skills as a leader. These skills are often labeled as "soft skills," but they are actually critical drivers of success and have a scientific foundation. The speaker discusses two dimensions of leadership presence: authoritative and approachable. They provide behaviors characteristic of each side, such as slowness and stillness for authority, and filling space and giving space for approachability. The video also highlights the importance of self-awareness and observation in improving one's communication skills. Additionally, the speaker suggests that taking improvisational acting classes can help individuals develop these skills in a supportive environment. Acting is not about pretending but finding a truthful place and bringing it out. Lastly, the speaker suggests preparatory techniques, such as using affirming music and practicing empowering gestures, to boost confidence before important meetings or presentations.

Questions & Answers

Q: What are the two dimensions of leadership presence discussed in the video?

The two dimensions of leadership presence discussed in the video are authoritative and approachable.

Q: What are some behaviors associated with the authoritative side of leadership presence?

Behaviors associated with the authoritative side of leadership presence include slowness in movement and speech, stillness, silence, symmetry, and the ownership of personal space.

Q: Which behaviors characterize the approachable side of leadership presence?

The approachable side of leadership presence is characterized by behaviors such as filling space, speaking or moving quickly, folding one's body (e.g., crossing arms or legs), fidgeting, and giving space to others.

Q: How can one improve their communication skills?

The first step to improving communication skills is self-awareness. By observing one's own behaviors and those of others, individuals can identify areas for improvement. Additionally, individuals can learn from observing successful leaders in their organization and emulate their effective communication style. Making intentional changes and practicing new behaviors is also crucial in developing better communication skills.

Q: What can acting classes teach us about communication and influence?

Acting classes, particularly improvisational acting classes, can teach individuals important tools for communication and influence. These classes offer a safe space to take risks and explore different ways of showing up. Through acting exercises and techniques, individuals can learn to be more in tune with their emotions and communicate authentically. The supportive environment of acting classes facilitates personal growth and enhances communication skills.

Q: What does it mean to be authentically authoritative or approachable?

Being authentically authoritative or approachable means expressing these qualities in a truthful and genuine manner. Each individual has their unique way of being authoritative or approachable, and it reflects their authentic self. Authenticity in communication is about being emotionally connected to the feelings one wishes to convey and not putting on a false mask or costume. When someone authentically portrays authority or approachability, it is believable and resonates with others.

Q: How can preparatory techniques help boost confidence before important meetings or presentations?

Preparatory techniques, such as engaging in empowering gestures or listening to motivating music, can help individuals boost their confidence before important meetings or presentations. By practicing these techniques before entering the room, individuals can mentally and physically prepare themselves to show up as the leader they aspire to be. This preparation can positively impact their internal state, which then carries over into the meeting or presentation, setting them up for success.

Q: Is it possible to make mid-meeting adjustments to improve communication?

Yes, it is possible to make mid-meeting adjustments to improve communication. If individuals notice that their communication is not going well, they can make small changes that can have a significant impact. For example, if they realize they are babbling or speaking too fast, they can take a pause, breathe, or even ask for a moment to check their notes. These pauses and resets allow individuals to regain composure, control, and clarity.

Q: How do people naturally react to each other in a room?

People naturally react to each other in a room by mirroring each other's behavior. For example, if one person starts smiling, others tend to mirror that smile. There is a subtle dance of synchronization that occurs, such as crossing and uncrossing legs, as individuals subconsciously adapt to one another. This mirroring and resonance can be observed in any room. Recognizing and understanding this natural inclination can help individuals navigate social dynamics and leverage it to enhance communication and interaction.

Q: How can being more aware of our reactions and making choices improve communication?

By being more aware of our reactions to situations and other people, we gain the ability to make conscious choices in our communication. This awareness allows us to read the room, understand the context, and decide how we want to respond. Instead of reacting impulsively, individuals can intentionally choose how they want to show up and communicate, ultimately serving the needs of others. Being more comfortable with making choices in communication leads to more effective and meaningful interactions.

Takeaways

Effective communication and influential skills are crucial for leaders. These "soft skills" are actually hard business drivers, backed by scientific understanding. Developing self-awareness and observing successful leaders can help individuals improve their communication. Taking improvisational acting classes provides a supportive environment for exploring different ways of communication. Authenticity is key in communication, with individuals expressing their unique authoritative or approachable qualities truthfully. Preparatory techniques, such as empowering gestures and motivational music, can boost confidence before important meetings or presentations. Mid-meeting adjustments are possible to improve communication, and people naturally react to each other, mirroring behaviors. Being more aware of personal reactions and making conscious choices enhances communication effectiveness.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Non-verbal communication skills are essential for leaders, as they play a significant role in influencing and motivating others.

  • There are specific behaviors on both the authoritative and approachable sides of non-verbal communication that leaders can utilize to enhance their presence and effectiveness.

  • Improving non-verbal communication skills can be achieved through self-awareness, observation, and practice, and can be further developed through acting classes or improvisational acting.

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