Body Wisdom: An Essential Part Of Great Leadership

Body Wisdom: An Essential Part Of Great Leadership

Have you ever decided to do something—or not do something—based on a “gut feeling?” Your head was giving you facts to lead you in the opposite direction, but you made your choice because it physically “felt” like the right way to proceed—and it was.

This is body wisdom. While we tend to rely on our intellect and even our emotions to make decisions, it’s also important to learn how to listen to what your body is telling you, because it often has the answer that’s in our best interests.

Building Body Awareness

Our body often is the first thing that lets us know if we’re stressed, angry, excited. Our stomach churns, our heart beats faster, we feel “butterflies” in our stomach, we suddenly stand up.

According to the website Leadership That Works, “Our desire for change starts in our body…The world of thought and evaluation is a tiny fraction of the knowledge that is available to us. Paying attention to the body gives us a deeper sense of our innate wisdom.”

The site Wisdom Works says, “While our minds naturally delete, distort, and generalize information to make the complexity of our worlds easier to digest, our body simply tells it like it is. Once we get waylaid by any of the common triggers of stress, our body speaks up loud and clear.”

If you start building an awareness of how your body reacts in different situations, you’re learning how to understand the wisdom it has to offer and then use that when making choices or decisions. You’ll also know when your stress levels are creeping up so you can take steps to avoid a resulting illness.

Body Wisdom And Leadership

The body’s wisdom can be a huge asset in business leadership. Wise leaders are in touch with and able to correctly interpret what their body is telling them regarding any number of decisions and what effect those decisions are having on you as a leader.

“Being ‘body wise’ can help us lead better,” states Wisdom Works. “Our physical being echoes every thought, feeling, and action we take. As a result, information from our body is a trustworthy feedback and guidance system, always at our disposal. When we ignore our bodies’ wisdom, we put ourselves and our teams at risk for poor performance and burnout…”

Effective leaders have learned how to consult their bodies, as well as their hearts and minds, to make decisions that positively impact themselves, their teams, and the world at large.

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The Impact Of Body Language On Success

The Impact Of Body Language On Success

Most people believe that success is a function of brainpower—that intelligent people either are now or will be successful at something in life.

The truth is that success is a result of many different variables, and recent studies have shown that a good brain is not the only key to achievement. Your body language also plays a significant role in helping you grab the brass ring, and there’s science to back this up.

The Science Of Body Language

In a recent Huffington Post article, Dr. Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, discussed a study done by Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy on the impact of body language on success. Cuddy showed that “people who use positive body language are more likable, competent, persuasive, and emotionally intelligent.”

Positive body language includes any targeted gestures that help get your message across, such as eye contact and body stance.

Cuddy found that the right body language actually affects your hormones, making you feel more confident. It also helps you appear more likable and competent to the person or group you’re dealing with and has a powerful role around influencing the attitudes of others. Finally, improving your body language helps you to more effectively share your emotions and ideas with others.

Examples Of Positive Body Positions

The site describes some kinds of body language that can help take you from negative and scared to positive and confident.

Open Up – Known as the “Power Posture,” this is standing with your feet wide apart and your hands on your hips or spread apart on a table in front of you. Spending time in this pose “increases testosterone, risk taking, pain tolerance, and belief in one’s own leadership abilities.” It also helps you to breathe better, which can calm shaky nerves.

Smile – Spending time deliberately smiling can help you to feel more positive and trigger positive memories, says the article. Turning your frown upside down is more than just a cute way to get kids to smile. It will give you more confidence.

Use Gestures – Just make sure they’re well-related to what you’re saying. Some studies proved that presenters were viewed as more effective and competent when they used hand gestures versus immobile hands and arms.


Any of these can give you an edge in negotiations or presentations by making you feel more confident and relaxed. You can even do them before and during a phone call or web conference.

The Importance For Women

Santa Monica College published an article describing body poses that women in particular should avoid because they send the wrong messages and can interfere with success. These include crossing your ankles while standing, tilting your head, “shy” or flirty glances, and mannerisms that broadcast nervousness such as playing with hair or fidgeting. Read the full article for more.

Changing your body position will change how you feel, which can be more effective than your brain in attaining the life you desire.


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Body language for women

Strike a Pose: Body Language Strategies to Help You Claim Your Power

When the eyes say one thing, and the tongue another, a practiced man relies on the language of the first.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the boardroom and far beyond, our bodies speak a language all their own. Body language, sometimes referred to as nonverbal communication, has been said to make up about 65% of all interpersonal communication.

As humans, we’re influenced not only by the body language of others, but by our own. For this reason, understanding more about nonverbal communication can help us in a myriad of ways to be more effective, authentic leaders.
Body language for women

Actions Speak Louder than Words

Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy shares that during observation of MBA students in the classroom, some students shrink into their chairs, as if to become invisible. Women are far more likely to do this because they generally feel less powerful than men.

Certain “power poses” can quickly change your body chemistry – and alter the way others perceive you, as well as how you actually perform. Just standing in a power pose for a couple minutes before an interview can actually help you ace it.

If you often find yourself shrinking into the invisible woman, try these simple strategies to help you reclaim your power:

Take a stand

In The Definitive Book of Body Language, authors Allen and Barbara Pease claim that a person who conducts a meeting while standing is seen as having a higher status than those who sit.

According to contributor Rob Asghar, the following simple stance can make you feel more powerful – and make you seem more powerful to others: Stand with your feet a bit wider than your shoulders, then put your hands on your hips. Now, “squinch” – squint your eyes very slightly, pinching and raising your lower eyelids up a bit.

If you’re having trouble mastering the “squinch”, just stand with your feet spread apart and your hands on your hips, otherwise known as the “Wonder Woman” pose.

The World is in Your Hands

In his book What Every Body is Saying, author Joe Navarro suggests that steepling your hands indicates that you are highly confident in the message you’re about to deliver.

If you’re unfamiliar with steepling, all you have to do is bring your hands up and touch your fingertips together. It’s sort of like a prayer position, except that only your fingertips touch – not your palms.

Steepling is often perceived as a male gesture – when women steeple, they often do so lower than men. At meetings, women will often steeple under the table – if you do this, take your steepling to the next level – above the table!

If you talk with your hands, try to keep your fingers closed and your hands below chin level to command the most attention. When people open their fingers while talking with their hands or move their hands above the chin, it’s perceived as less powerful.

Claim Your Space

If you’re sitting in a chair, keep your elbows out or on the arms of the chair. Individuals perceived as timid, shy or submissive often do the opposite – they keep their elbows in as a way to “self-protect” – and are perceived as fearful in the process.

If you want to really strike a powerful pose, sit down in a chair in front of your desk. Lean back in the chair, put your hands behind your head, and position your feet comfortably on the desk.

Do you want everyone to know you’re running the show at the next board meeting? Stand up, place your hands palms down onto the surface of the table and lean forward, claiming your space.

At the end of the day, everyone deserves a break. Take yours by relaxing into this power pose – whether you’re lying on a couch or sitting in a chair – stretch out your arms or legs, keeping an open posture.

Fake it ‘Til You Become it!

Maintaining certain power poses for just two minutes can lower your stress hormones and boost testosterone. Many studies have indicated power poses can increase your abstract thinking, help you perform better in meetings and interviews – and even increase your tolerance of pain!

Our bodies change our minds… and our minds change our behavior… and our behavior changes our outcomes.
-Amy Cuddy

Want to learn how you can start embodying your power through your body language? Apply for a Bolder Moves Discovery Session. Or, contact me via email or by visiting my website,, anytime!