Leaders attract followers through emotional connection, trust and positive interaction. These connections promote a productive atmosphere where individuals and teams flourish.
Although more powerful physical presence is associated with strong leadership, effective leaders understand the importance of making strong emotional connections, and they understand that different situations call for different physical presence.
What makes up the Body of Connection?
The Presence of Connection, one of the Six Positions of Power and Influence, promotes relationships and emotional connections that make leadership possible.
This physical presence shows feelings and invites joy. When you take on the Body of Connection, you are fully centered and relaxed. Your eyes and face are soft and fully aware of other people. You look directly into the eyes of the person with whom you are speaking. Your smile is genuine. Your voice is soft and appropriate to the situation.
Hands and arms are relaxed, and palms may be visible and inviting. Your energy radiates from your center, and it surrounds the person or group with whom you are interacting. You possibly show a certain amount of vulnerability or humility.
George Clooney’s open and soft-spoken manner attracts many to him. While not overtly working to make connections, his facial expressions, hint of vulnerability, and sometimes self-deprecating humor seem to welcome relationship.
The image above showing John Travolta dancing with Princess Diana also suggests the body disposition of Connection. Both people seem to invite relationship. We do not usually think of Princess Diana or John Travolta as leaders in the usual sense, but few can deny the affection and emotional attachment both generated in their respective roles, and both were able to influence others to take action in different arenas.
And, whether or not you agree with his other traits, many who have met former President Bill Clinton say he has an exceptional ability to connect by completely focusing on the people he meets and making each one feel as if he or she is the only person in the room.
Many refer to this trait as charisma. It includes intellect and emotional awareness, but it also includes the physical presence of Connection, which attracts people and makes them willing to explore new possibilities and accept new ideas or behaviors. This, in turn, opens doors to relationships and to a new future.
You may think of the physical presence of connection and openness to relationship in a sexual way, which is sometimes manipulative and can even repels people who observe it. This is not the type of connection I mean. The presence of Connection is one of authentic caring and concern, not of lechery or manipulation.
Some may also view openness and caring as weakness. The opposite is true: only when an individual—a leader— is confident in her position can she make genuine connections that display strength through mutual understanding and relationship.
As with each of the other Six Positions of Power and Influence, the purpose is to build relations, not to manipulate. One of the important components of leadership presence is authenticity. People recognize manipulation, and leaders who practice it soon find they have no followers and no self-respect.
Please recognize that each of us is more comfortable in one or two of the six positions of power and influence I describe. Practice each of them and determine which ones come naturally and which ones can use some work.
So, how does one demonstrate the physical presence of Connection? Begin your practice in private and then extend it to a comfortable setting before moving into situations in which any discomfort may evident and detrimental. I am not suggesting that you dance, but as you see from the photo of Princess Diana and John Travolta, dancing with another person often brings out this physical presence and feeling of connection.
- Take a deep breath and center.
- Check your attitude. Are you emotionally open and genuinely concerned?
- Relax your eyes and make them soft. Smile very slightly.
- With body fully relaxed and hands to the sides, lean forward slightly as if inviting someone to join you.
- You may turn your palms toward another person as if inviting them into your world.
- You may also want to practice to music such as Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender” or “You are the Sunshine of My Life.”
- Then practice this body disposition when with others, being sure to look into their eyes.
Adapted from Connect: Affective Leadership for Effective Results. (by permission)