There are many different styles of leadership and finding on common denominator is a difficult task. However, there is something that’s consistent in every iteration of leadership: posture.
Some lead by expressing a bold vision, and others are quiet yet determined. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes and isn’t restricted to one style or type. But there is a common thread, an attribute that seems to be embedded into every successful leader – great posture.
What is leadership posture?
To put it simply, leadership posture is the way in which you carry yourself and it is the catalyst for your efforts to help others flourish, to be a leader. The Difference‘s Eric Torrence discusses the powerful effect that good posture has on one’s ability to lead other people and help them flourish.
“[Good leaders] approach people, new ideas, and different opinions in similar ways,” Torrence says. “It’s this posture that makes them particularly powerful at cultivating respect, cooperation and influence.”
In other words, posture is not so much what you do and more about how you do it. Torrence recommends that we take three approaches to achieving good posture: Through being humble, having a “serveant’s heart” and a “for you” attitude, you can adopt good leadership posture that will make you and the people around you thrive.
Having a humble spirit is crucial for leadership and helps others relate to you and trust you. You need to be willing to admit when you’re wrong, when you previously held a bad opinion or where you haven’t done very well. Nothing makes people trust you better than reminding them that you, the person who leads them, are also a human being and you make mistakes. It also means that when you say something or do something, they believe that your intentions are what you state them to be.
“Effective leaders are willing to admit that something they once thought was right (an opinion or perspective) turned out to be wrong, which means they might be wrong about something they think is right today,” says Torrence. “That’s demonstrating a humble posture.
“Humility is incredibly contagious. The know-it-all leader is a lonely one. They’re unapproachable. Leaders who admit their shortcomings, ask forgiveness when they’re wrong, and are open to feedback have staying power through their posture.”
Particularly in corporate structures, leaders occupy places in a hierarchy. The manner in which leaders at the top typically operate is through top-down leadership. But true leaders work from the bottom-up. If you are able to build close relationships with the “minions” at the bottom of the hierarchy, they will feel closer to you and feel encouraged by your decision to dedicate time towards them. And this will permeate upwards where people in the middle of the hierarchy will catch on to this contagious factor in your posture.
A “For You” Attitude
People can feel it when theye have your support; when they know you’re on their side, in their corner. When you’ve demonstrated that you are actually “for” other people, then they are able to perform better, with added confidence from the sense of security that you offer as a leading example. This element of your posture is defined by empathy and an outlook that doesn’t assume the worst of others or be overly critical of flaws.
Good leadership posture would be to focus on someone’s strengths and add fuel to the fire to give them the momentum they need to succeed. Torrence offers a great anecdote about two different cross-country coaches that he had in his days at school.
“When I ran cross country, I had two different coaches. One rode his bike behind us as we ran on the roads. He’d yell about what was wrong about our technique, criticize our effort, and then speed off ahead. My other coach ran with us. He critiqued us too, but only at strategic points (often after we finished a run). On the road, he was all encouragement. He would make a point to remind me of my potential as he pressed me to move forward. Needless to say, one of my coaches helped me immensely. I think you can guess which one.”
The secret to leadership is posture
Just like you should stand and sit with your shoulders back and your chest out, having good posture as a leader needs to either come naturally to you or needs to be trained into you. So be humble, use a bottom up approach and build on people’s strengths to be an effective leader.
Everyone has the potential to be a leader, but bad posture limits us and we get defensive and close ourselves off. But now you have a chance to focus on improving your posture and you’ll be on your way to becoming a good leader, in whatever setting its necessary.