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Convey Confidence as a Leader by Perfecting Your Body Language

Published on: October 18, 2022

business man and business woman standing back to back

Does your body language convey support, empathy and rapport with your team members, or are you pushing them away with your nonverbal communication? Many managers are unaware that their body language conveys their leadership style. If you have never thought about body language in leadership, this guide will help you convey what you want to say as a leader through every movement and facial expression.

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What Is Body Language?

Research has shown that up to 70% of what someone communicates when interacting with others is nonverbal. Body language is the nonverbal communication that comes from how you use your voice or hold your body when speaking.

Our body language is often not something we are consciously aware of, but it communicates volumes to other people. This fact can make it more difficult for people to control their body language. You can become more effective as a leader by learning to control and communicate through your body language.

Types of Body Language

Body language covers many different types of movements and stances with your body. Specifically, body language refers to things like:

  • Stance
  • Facial expressions
  • Gestures
  • Head position
  • Tone of voice

Each of these, even if unconscious, conveys volumes about your meaning when speaking. Your body language can make a simple statement like “I just love chocolate” mean more than one thing, showing that you are genuinely enthusiastic about chocolate or being sarcastic.

Why Body Language Is Important in Leadership

Influential leaders must be effective communicators, which requires a knowledge of body language and its effect on your leadership style. According to Forbes, a leader’s use of personal space, physical gestures and other forms of body language can either strengthen or sabotage their impact as a leader. Remember, it takes less than seven seconds to make an impression on a team member, so you must learn to use your body to convey what you’re trying to communicate if you want to lead people effectively. 

Tips for Managers to Improve Their Body Language

If you feel your leadership style is not working the way you want it to, it may be time to take a closer look at your body language. Here are some tips to make body language in leadership work for you, rather than against you. 

Eye Contact

When someone constantly shifts their eyes away from the person they’re talking to, it shows submission and weakness. It can also make you appear like you’re being untruthful. 

On the flip side, eye contact conveys confidence and strength. It can also evoke feelings of trust. Learn to make eye contact with the person you are speaking with and maintain that eye contact while you talk. One way you can improve your ability to make eye contact is to take the time to notice the eye color of each person you speak with.

Authentic Smiles

Learn to smile in a warm, friendly way. Leadership can be challenging and stressful, and you may not always be in the mood to smile. Many leaders are so focused on being strong that they forget to smile at the people on their teams. However, an authentic smile is an invitation that says you are a friendly, approachable individual.  

Confident Posture

Your posture can portray insecurity or lack of confidence. You appear to lack confidence if you cross your arms, slouch or take a small stance. A confident posture that opens up the body and takes up more space, with arms wide, shoulders high and legs standing tall, conveys a sense of power. This posture makes you appear like a trustworthy, confident leader that people want to follow.

Hand Gestures

Hand gestures show emotional investment in the person or the subject you are talking about. Leaving your hands limp at your sides or holding them clasped in front of you shows no emotion about the subject matter. The more hand gestures people use, the more favorable people view them. Learn to move your hands while you talk, as this will inspire people to want to follow you.

Observe Cues You Are Being Given

While body language is important, it is also essential for you to observe. Is the person with whom you are speaking in a defensive stance with arms crossed, leaning away from you? They may feel intimidated or untrusting. Adjust your body language accordingly. Are they leaning in with an open stance and engaged facial expression? If so, then what you are doing is working well. Mirroring the body language of others can also be an effective technique for communicating with others. 


One potential problem when focusing on body language is that people can become tense. If you focus too much on your body language, your shoulders may rise and you may become stiff. A relaxed posture conveys confidence, but it can be hard to fake. Take a deep breath and smile before communicating to help you relax and get a better outcome from your communication. 

Show Confidence

Finally, use your body language to show confidence. When standing, lean forward slightly and stand up straight while talking. Keep your chin up, and do not fidget or put your hands in your pockets. Use slow, deliberate steps when walking. Use your hands, but don’t touch your face or neck, as this conveys insecurity. If you can use your body language to show confidence, your team members will mirror that confidence, and you will be more successful. 

Learn More About Being a Good Business Manager With Husson

Being a good business manager involves many different skills, and body language is just one of them. As you focus on growing your leadership potential, you may want to get more leadership training. Husson University offers a fully online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management that provides a flexible, well-rounded business leadership education you need to study while pursuing your professional goals.

If you want to be a strong leader that inspires every team member to push for personal and professional success, this degree could be a good starting point. Reach out to an admissions professional to learn more about our business administration and management degree or get information about how to apply.

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Body Language | Psychology Today

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