Actions Speak Louder Than Words – Why Adaptive Non-Verbal Communication is a Key Leadership Tool

By Dr Connson Locke

Non-verbal communication is extremely influential in interpersonal encounters, and knowing how to leverage non-verbal signals effectively can be a key leadership tool. In this article, Dr. Locke from LSE demonstrates the falsity behind the conventionally held belief that leaders should always act a certain way.

It is widely accepted that non-verbal communication is extremely influential in interpersonal encounters, and non-verbal signals (i.e. everything except the words themselves), including body language, eye contact, tone of voice, and rapidity of speech, can have a subtle but significant influence on the dynamic between two people. For leaders in a professional context, there is no exception.

As a teacher and researcher specialising in leadership in the Department of Management at the London School of Economics, I have recently completed new research exploring non-verbal communication in leadership roles. The results suggest that, contrary to many traditional beliefs, there is no one single ‘best’ way to look and act like a leader.

Instead, three behavioural studies which I conducted point to the fact that leaders should consciously adjust their non-verbal strategy to the specific situation in order to get the best out of their team and make optimum decisions.

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