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7 Body Language Habits of Effective Managers

7 Body Language Habits of Effective Managers

Congratulations! You’ve reached the point in your career where you are managing other people. This means you have reached some success in your field–whether you are a stellar sales person, a seasoned financial planner, or a skilled architect.

But being deft with numbers or a killer negotiator doesn’t mean you know how to be the kind of manager people want to work for. In fact, many skilled professionals find themselves promoted into positions of authority without a clue how to convey the traits of a good leader.

If this sounds like you, it might be time to “fake it till you make it” and start taking control of the most powerful communication tool you have: your body language.

Here are seven leadership traits and the body language habits that will make your employees feel lucky to have you as their boss.

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To convey integrity, sync your words and actions.

1

    We tend to believe more of what we see than what we hear, so if you’re encouraging collaboration, don’t cross your arms or shove your hands in your pockets. If you’re extolling the bright future of a new product, don’t drop your gaze or shift in your seat. If you’re delivering bad news, don’t grin. And never give your attention, even for a second, to a text message or phone call. Better yet, leave your phone in your bag or at your desk.

    To convey authority, take up physical space.

    6

      Rather than slouch in your seat, sit up straight and tall. Deliberately extend your arms, legs, and even your belongings into the space around you. Place your hands on the armrests, stretch out your legs, or place a notebook on the table as an “extension” of yourself. When you take up space, you signal that you are engaged, present, and here to make decisions. When you curl up into your chair or shrink into a corner, you’re saying: I’d rather follow than lead.

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      To convey approachability, position yourself at an angle.

      11

        If you’re a more aggressive personality type who naturally takes up space and easily conveys authority, your employees may be intimidated by you. Your goal should be to help them feel comfortable approaching you and sharing their ideas. Next time you are in a one-on-one discussion, take note of your body position. Are you aimed straight on to the other person? Are you invading their space? If so, take a step back and stand (or sit) at a 45-degree angle. This changes the vibe of the conversation, taking pressure off the other person so they can relax, think, and regain composure.

        To convey control, keep your body still.

        4

          No matter how you might feel inside, never reveal impatience, anxiety, or boredom. Fidgeting, pacing, head nodding, leg twitching, toe tapping, face-touching, hair-pulling, chair-twirling–all of these behaviors signal a lack of self-control, which will not reassure your employees about your leadership abilities. If you’re a natural fidgeter, practice planting your feet firmly on the ground and letting your hands hang by your sides when you stand. When sitting, keep your lower body (and chair) in one place.

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          To convey confidence, show vulnerability.

          12

            People who lack confidence often use “self-soothing” body language that closes them off from others. Next time you are presenting to a group or talking one-on-one, observe your natural tendencies. Do you cross your arms, entwine your legs, put your hands in your pockets, or wring your hands? These behaviors signal insecurity and lack of confidence. Conversely, opening up your body shows vulnerability and signals confidence. So keep your shoulders back, chin up, hands by your sides, and legs uncrossed.

            To convey empathy, listen actively.

            13

              Sure, you’re busy; you’ve got a dozen things on your mind and a mountain of things to do. But if you’ve taken the time to talk to someone, don’t let your “busyness” show. Instead, make them feel like the most important person in your world. While they’re talking, make eye contact, cock your head to the side, nod, and match your facial expressions to the spirit of what they’re saying. When it’s your turn to speak, don’t be in a hurry. Pause, take a breath, nod, and consider everything you have heard. Then respond thoughtfully, repeating back the essence of what the person just said.

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              To convey high expectations, control your facial expressions.

              5

                Your facial expressions alone are capable of demoralizing your employees and diminishing their odds of success. Consider the subtle message you convey when you roll your eyes, raise your eyebrows, frown, or purse your lips. Before you enter a meeting with your employees, be sure your face is free of tension by stretching your jaw and relaxing your facial muscles. Then, keep a neutral or positive expression on your face throughout the meeting.

                How are your body language habits? Take the Quiz.

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                Sharen Ross

                Marketing Strategy Consultant

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                Last Updated on March 29, 2021

                5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

                5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

                When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

                What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

                The Dream Type Of Manager

                My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

                I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

                My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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                “Okay…”

                That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

                I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

                The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

                The Bully

                My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

                However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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                The Invisible Boss

                This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

                It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

                The Micro Manager

                The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

                Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

                The Over Promoted Boss

                The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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                You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

                The Credit Stealer

                The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

                Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

                3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

                Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

                1. Keep evidence

                Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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                Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

                Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

                2. Hold regular meetings

                Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

                3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

                Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

                However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

                Good luck!

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