5 Ways To Spot a Leader | Search For Leadership Potential
Last year I worked as an intern in a data science company. It was my first day at work, and a colleague of mine dropped a bunch of files on my desk which were supposed to be delivered to the person in charge. Now I had zero clue about who was in charge here. So after a lot of aimlessly wandering and asking around, I was pointed to a room where I was told I would find who I was looking for.
I walked into the room. About ten people were standing, all dressed in the same corporate clothing. Great more asking, I thought to myself as I mentally rolled my eyes. Immediately, one particular lady caught my eye. She was a very small woman, yet it felt like she was the one occupying the most space in the room. The way she carried herself, her facial expressions, her voice everything screamed power and authority, and I suddenly knew that she was the person in charge here.
As it turns out, I was right.
So, what is it about leaders that make them stand out in a crowd? Is there any exact science behind the features in a leader’s body language that communicates the idea that they are one to the people around them?
Research shows that there are a couple of things that can help us spot a leader. Interviewers are often asked to look for these behaviors in their candidates to find candidates with leadership potential. So, if you are someone who wants to convey the idea that you have leadership potential or if you want to learn how to spot a leader you will find this post very helpful.
If I asked you, does a leader smile more or do they smile less, what would your answer be?
If you’ve guessed less, then you are correct. When you look at a leader, you’ll know they are not here to fool around and they means business. On the other hand, the people around them are actively trying to smile at the leader. This is contrary to popular belief, but studies show that smiling too much is signals sub-ordination. For example, historically women were told to smile more, while smiling less was associated with masculinity.
Do leader tend to stay still more or do they pace around? Powerful people tend to want to conserve as much energy as possible. So leaders tend to be still, and only engage in intentional movement. Think of the warrior archetype in movies; the big strong man who rarely ever moves aside from when he’s not in combat, speaks even less and is usually seen brooding at the distance.
Popular belief is that leaders tend to engage in more eye contact because holding deep, meaningful eye contact is key to inspiring and motivating people, which is one of the responsibilities of a leader. This belief is both true and false.
Studies show that leader hold eye contact more when they are speaking to you. But their eyes usually wander around when you are speaking to them. This can come off as rude and distracting, but usually they do this without realizing what they are doing. So, you could nudge them on their elbow to get their attention. Or you can stop speaking until they look at you. This indicates to them that you are not the kind of person who will tolerate half attention.
Leaders tend to interrupt people more during conversations. Because of their confidence and the way they carry themselves, people tend to become quiet and listen to them when they speak, even if they’ve interrupted someone when they were about to say something important. This can often come off as rude, but since people around them don’t necessarily object to it, it encourages them to continue this behavior.
Leaders tend to hold their hold when they are being spoken to. This is also related to movement. Too much nodding, movement or smiling tends to convey subordination or subjugation.
Now can you smile a lot and still be a good leader? Of course! Do you have to interrupt people to prove that you have leadership potential? No! The characteristics I’ve mentioned here are results from a research study which observed these behaviors in hundreds of leaders across the world. They represent a statistic, but you may exhibit different behaviors and still be a good leader. After all, what makes a leader great is his ability to captivate, inspire and move others.
About The Author
I’m Zarnaz. I’m a self help junkie, caffeine addict, writer, engineer and I’m extremely passionate about the science of people. I want to know what inspires you, motivates you, drives you to make better choices and ultimately, how to help you reach your full potential. This is a blog dedicated to that cause.