As a leader, speaker, and visible member of my organization's leadership team I think a lot about body language. If I'm meeting with a group of employees who have concerns I am focused on staying calm, not being defensive, and trying hard to validate their feelings.
If I'm speaking at a recognition event I need to be warm and funny to help attendees enjoy the event. If I'm speaking at a conference it's all about energy, passion, and hopefully some fun for the audience.
My personal body language is important, and needs to be different in all three settings in order to be effective.
One of the strengths of a good company is that it's messaging matches the behavior and decision-making of the leadership team. If the message is about integrity, inclusiveness, and striving to be a Level 5 Leader, then the corresponding behavior and decisions that are made should match those messages.
Sounds simple enough, right?
How hard is it to engage with front line team members, act friendly, and be open about how decisions are made? It's not actually...unless there is another agenda behind the scenes that supersedes the rhetoric.
One of the realities of leadership that continues to surprise me is the notion that "everyone is watching." Employees certainly hear what we say, but they are far more attuned to what we do.
If we espouse a culture that embraces transparency, inclusion, and openness, yet clearly makes "back room" decisions that seem to be based on a small minority's plan for the large enterprise, it becomes increasingly difficult to continue to send out the same messages that obviously to all (except perhaps the back-room-gang) that those messages aren't worth the paper they're written on.
Painful to hear? Perhaps. Putting the obvious in print? Yes.
How About You
What is your corporate body language? Do you live in a self-perpetuating public relations machine that has lost touch with reality? Or, do you practice what you so eloquently preach?
I'd love to hear from you.