This blog previews the second episode of the Driving the Equality Agenda Podcast. Listen to the episode in full on Spotify here.
When CEOs speak with communications and body language expert Dr Louise Mahler, they often remark that they had no idea people would be watching every expression they make.
Every extravagant handwave. Every gentle nod.
“People are watching your every move,” Dr Mahler says.
In episode two of Driving the Equality Agenda, Dr Mahler explains it’s not just what you say that matters, but how you say it. This is fundamental to developing an executive presence or what is known as ‘gravitas’.
“I think the skills of presenting yourself, being able to influence, having presence. It grows exponentially. Once you become a leader, it’s everything” she says.
The challenge is that these are skills that people are rarely taught before they become leaders.
“It’s a massive gap in our education, in our MBAs, in our degrees, it’s left out,” Dr Mahler says.
The key to gaining those skills is to work with an expert and become self-aware. That means understanding that your gestures, eye contact, ability to make an entrance are all habitual, not natural.
“If you have bad habits, weird traits, you can unlearn them,” she says.
“The problem is we get these habitual skills, we’ve been doing them for so many years, and then we say it’s natural. We have to realise it’s not natural. It’s habitual and it’s changeable.”
Once that breakthrough has been made, leaders can start to recognise the way they act under stress, or when they’re comfortable and how their unspoken communication needs to change in those moments to be the leader they want to be.
“Then it’s practice, practice, practice, until those new skills are there,” Dr Mahler says.
“You can practice while walking down the street. You can practice when cleaning your teeth.
“It takes a shorter time than people think to make that change, you just have to get on the journey.”
You can take the first step on that journey by listening to episode two of Driving the Equality Agenda.
Available wherever you get your podcasts.