We all know the message we see with our eyes doesn’t always match the message we hear with our ears. For example, think of the role of a parent hearing their child say they didn’t break the lamp, but the child’s body language says otherwise. In her new book, THE SILENT LANGUAGE OF LEADERS, Carol Kinsey Goman sums this up with this statement, “body language is in the eye of the beholder”.
This very intriguing book defines the subtitle – how body language can help – or hurt – how you lead. The book begins asking the question, “What does leadership look like?” and answers it with a succinct analysis of the 1960 presidential debates (the first televised debates) where Americans viewed a very nervous, defensive and unprepared looking Richard Nixon compared to a very calm, poised and well prepared Jack Kennedy. People who saw the debates on television easily recognized Kennedy as the clear winner, however those who heard the debate on the radio thought Nixon came out ahead.
After developing what leadership looks like, Chapter 2 looks at negotiations and the importance of “engagement”, as well as the body language that accompanies engagement or the lack of it. People put on their best “poker-face” when entering negotiations, but Goman teaches other things to look for that a poker-face cannot hide. A big portion of this chapter also deals with how to deal with someone that is disengaged. The chapter concludes with a very valuable set of body language guidelines for negotiators.
Every leader has had to deal at one time or another with leading change. Change can be hard to accept as it forces people out of their comfort zones but chapter 3 teaches how leaders can use their body language to improve buy-in. Effectively creating buy-in revolves around building an emotional connection and developing the WIFFM (what’s in it for me) answer.
Next we find a short but very informative chapter on collaboration. Since much of business today is via rich technology such as video conferencing, this can make things such as collaboration more of a challenge than through conventional face-to-face methods. Here you’ll find tips useful for all types of collaboration building.
Chapter 6 looks at gender and body language. I found this chapter a fascinating study in gender differences in the workplace. This chapter explains the mars/venus effect in the boardroom.
Many of us today find ourselves working across cultural boundaries. Working With Global Teams bridges many of those boundaries. Here we look not only at cultural differences, but also similarities that span all cultures. The author identifies 7 universal emotional expressions that we will see no matter where we are.
In Chapter 8, Goman brings in a multicultural panel to discuss 8 specific questions. I was amazed at the variation of answers to the questions. These very simple business related questions are also very specific and could save the reader from a very embarrassing situation. “What does it mean to be “on-time” for a meeting?”, sounds like a very simple question, but has very differing answers depending on the culture involved. This chapter concludes with a “cheat-sheet” of sorts with abbreviated answers to each of the 8 questions for the 12 countries/cultures of the panelists.
The book concludes with a chapter on the Nonverbal Future of Leadership. Here we learn how Baby boomers changed how business is conducted; how Gen Xers have transformed those rules of business and what we can expect in the way of changes brought on as Gen Yers make their way into the workforce.
This book is invaluable for taking leadership to a higher level.
Monty Rainey is a District Manager with over 14 years in the self storage industry currently overseeing 21 stores in the Austin & San Antonio, TX area. He is also a leadership coach and public speaker. For a free consultation, please contact Monty at 830-743-2139 or visit his website at http://www.montyrainey.com .