Go Deep, Be
Courageous, Emerge a Winner!
Serving the Business and Professional
Community since 1983!
N. Elizabeth Fried, Ph.D.
Coaching Corner: Executive Presence Series
October 23, 2014 Blog Series 6 of 9: Executive Presence:
Conveying Confidence--Body Language
we seek to climb the corporate ladder, many of us want to build or develop
greater confidence. Letís first examine what dominance and power look like. A
classic expression of feeling power is to raise both arms in the V for
Victory symbol. Another common stance is the Wonder Woman pose,
standing tall with legs about 18 inches apart and arms akimbo, hands resting
squarely on the hips. A third is the CEO posture, which typically
involves leaning back in your chair with your hands clasped behind your head
and your elbows out in a relaxed but controlled position.
You might be surprised at how
many senior leaders I coach whose confidence isnít where they would like it to
beóand you canít have
executive presence without confidence, because along with
intellect, confidence is the very fabric of gravitas.
Typically, high power poses
makes one look bigger. The body is open with arms outward and legs apart. The
person can be sitting or standing, but there are no guards up to protect the
body. The head is up, with eyes looking straight at you. Low power poses, on the
other hand, tend to make the body small. Arms or hands are folded or wrapped
around the around the body, head is down, eyes averted, and legs are close
A study conducted by social
psychologist Amy Cuddy (June, 2012) from Harvard Business School reveals a
fascinating phenomenon. She identified a series of power poses, much like those
Iíve described. First she took saliva tests of the subjects and measured two
hormones: cortisol, a stress hormone, and testosterone, a hormone which impacts
aggression and mental sharpness. Then she had the subjects hold a power pose for
two minutes. Subsequently, she took another saliva test and found that the
subjectsí cortisol levels decreased and their testosterone increased. In fact,
for a period of time afterwards, those who stood in the high power poses also
demonstrated greater risk-taking than those who didnít hold power poses. Iíd
encourage you to view her
TED talk for more detail.
Iíve used the power pose
technique with clients, and the results have always been positive. One executive
who recently had her confidence shaken, contacted me and expressed concerns
about an upcoming, important meeting. I suggested that just prior to the meeting
she find a private place and get into a power pose for two minutes. She tried it
and was astounded at how she conducted herself at the meeting. She told me she
felt fearless. And it felt gooooood!
In the next issue, Iíll cover professional appearance
For additional one to two-minute sessions on other topics, go to the
Coaching Corner Archive.