The Silent Language of Leadership

We don’t use the term lie when it comes to lying to the boss but that’s what it is. We tell her what she wants to hear. After all, powerful bosses greatly impact our career, advancement, and financial success.

I observed a group of mid-levels publicly conspire to lie to the boss and no one thought a thing of it. They didn’t use the term lie; they said, “We can’t tell him that,” and proceeded to tailor the truth to protect their image and not upset him. It wasn’t malicious; it was expedient.

Detecting deception is one reason reading nonverbal signals is useful. Here are, “12 True Behaviors that Expose Liars.”

Interpret clusters:

Carol Kinsey Goman, author of, “The Silent Language of Leaders,” recently helped me appreciate the nonverbal dance more fully. She explained there are stress signals; there are no lying signals. She warned, “You may interpret a hand to the lips as lying but it may be embarrassment.”

Carol also helped me appreciate the value of gesture clusters – “a group of movements, postures, and actions that reinforce a common point. Fidgeting may not mean much by itself. If the person is also avoiding eye contact, wringing his hands, and pointing his feet toward the door, there’s a very good chance he is distressed and wants to leave.”

Nonverbals for speakers:

My conversation with Carol and reading her book enhanced my effectiveness during the key-note I gave last night. I had an hour to watch the audience before I spoke. I knew the lady off to the right crossed her arms because she was cold not because of skepticism.

I noticed they weren’t free with applause so I lowered my expectations. When I finished, their generous applause was gratifying.

Random Tip:

Grabbing the back of the neck means I have a question.


Do you watch nonverbal cues?

How can an understanding of nonverbal cues improve your leadership?


Don’t miss Carol’s video on her home page explaining the uses and importance of body language.

“This briliant book finally unravels a pivotal aspect of leadership,” Warren Bennis.