Body Language 6 Folding Arms

December 15, 2018

Folding arms when listening or speaking is a classic type of body language that has a few different interpretations depending on the circumstances when it is being applied.

For example, if a student is sitting in a boring classroom for a long period and has folded arms, it would be a good idea to check the temperature of the room. The wrapping of arms around the torso helps to conserve heat and having the fingers wedged into the arm pits helps them from feeling cold due to poor circulation.

Folding arms can be somewhat different for women than men due to anatomical differences. Crossed arms gives a feeling of wholeness or snugness to a female that is not usually experienced by men. One can also deduce meaning from how the fingers are displayed. In this image, the fingers are relaxed, and when coupled with a natural smile, it basically looks like just a comfortable pose for the woman. It would likely mean something different if her fingers were clenched onto the arms. In that case, she would appear to be upset.

The classic meaning ascribed to folded arms is that of a person being defensive or closed. If someone is in a discussion in a warm room and when the topic becomes something related to that person’s performance, you can often see the arms being crossed as a symbol of defensiveness. The message received by the other person is that the person is not entirely comfortable with this conversation and wants to be protected from damage. The gesture generally works against trust because information is perceived to be blocked.

Many signals in body language have explanations in anatomy. They are exaggerated contortions that relate to a specific and understandable bodily need at that time. In this instance the person is protecting the solar plexus, the one part of the mammal that is not protected by a skeletal structure, from possible harm. The motion is almost always done unconsciously, but it is a reasonable reaction to being attacked.

Political individuals are not exempt from using crossed arms. The classic arm crosser is Donald Trump. He habitually sits in meetings with arms crossed, and it is usually as show of defiance or power. He normally wears a suit coat, which makes the arm crossing look particularly awkward, but it is a common posture for him. He also normally hides his fingers when crossing his arms which adds to the awkward appearance. Coupled with his habitual facial expression, the message becomes, “I am listening at the moment, and when you are through, I will tell you how it’s going to be.” He also keeps his arms crossed when both listening and talking.

A person who crosses arms and uncrosses them repeatedly within the space of a minute or so is emoting uncertainty or anxiety. The message is that the person is uncomfortable and does not know what to do with his or her arms and hands. If you encounter a person acting in this manner, try to give the individual the opportunity to talk. Switching from an absorbing mode to an advocating mode will often allow the person to calm down and relax a bit.

In summary, crossing arms is a common type of body language that can easily be misunderstood. Most commonly, it is interpreted as a gesture of defensiveness or being closed. As with all body language, you must consider the context in which the gesture is occurring and the details of the gesture itself.

This is a part in a series of articles on “Body Language.” The entire series can be viewed on https://www.leadergrow.com/articles/categories/35-body-language or on this blog.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 600 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763


Body Language 5 Steepling

December 8, 2018

Starting this week, I will be describing several body gestures or positions to indicate the classical meaning for each one and also some caveats on how they might be misinterpreted.

The source of this information is numerous body language sites online plus a wonderful DVD on “Advanced Body Language” by Bill Acheson from the University of Pittsburgh. Here is a link to the video in case you might want to purchase it.

Also, some of the information was derived from numerous books, such as the famous “How to Read a Person Like a Book” by Gerard Nierenberg.

The first gesture is called “steepling.” This is a form of demonstrating power when two people are in conversation. The classic gesture is fingers together and palms apart. Usually the person with the higher power is the one doing the steepling, and the higher the power the higher on the body the steepling will be.

A typical example of when you might encounter steepling is when you are asking a superior for a favor. Suppose I am your manager, and you want to ask me for some extra vacation time because you have used up all your time and need an extra day. You come into my office and sit across the desk from me. I lean back and listen to you without saying anything but assuming a pose similar to this picture.

This body language indicates that I am listening politely, but I am not likely to grant your wish. If you see this kind of gesture, it means that the person demonstrating power over you, so it would be a good idea to back off and try a different approach at another time.

When standing, the higher the steeple, the greater the power differential. Also, women in positions of power will sometimes do a reverse steeple with fingers together and palms apart but the fingers are pointing downward.

If you are talking with a person of higher power and he or she starts to steeple, try asking a question that requires a verbal answer. That may break the steeple as the individual would be talking through his or her hands.

There is also a bouncing steeple motion where the fingers are separated and then brought back together. That would usually indicate impatience on the part of the listener, so if you see this, immediately give the other person the floor.

You may have noticed that Donald Trump is often seen using the steepling technique as well as the bouncing steeple to indicate impatience. His gestures are very marked. For example, Donald often sits with his arms crossed. It looks uncomfortable when wearing a suit, but it is how he habitually demonstrates his power. I will discuss arm crossing in a future article.

Some people use the steepling gesture a lot and others rarely use it. When you see it being done, it provides clues into what the other person is thinking. Steepling is rarely seen from a person in a lower status when talking with a superior. If you see this, some form of a coup is likely being attempted. Test to see what may be happening.

Excessive use of steepling will lower the trust between people because it represents a kind of power play. Try to use this gesture sparingly in your relations with others.

This is a part in a series of articles on “Body Language.” The entire series can be viewed on https://www.leadergrow.com/articles/categories/35-body-language or on this blog.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 600 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763


Body Language 4 Facial Expressions

December 1, 2018

The topic of facial expressions is endlessly fascinating. Keeping in mind that all body language is culture specific; still many of the facial expressions are the same no matter what culture is employing them. For example, a child in pain is going to have the same facial expression regardless of where in the world he or she originated.

There are many generalities in facial expressions. For this series, I will key off the Western Cultures to make specific points. Where specific gestures mean different things, I will give some examples to clarify.

There are literally tens of thousands of different facial expressions we use to convey our emotions. It would be impossible to cover them all in one article, but I will lay out some details of the specific parts of the face in my articles over the next several weeks. In this article, I deal with the entire face as a unit.

As Bill Acheson points out in his series “Advanced Body Language,” (www.seminarsonDVD.com) most body language occurs at the subconscious level. We are giving off signals with all facets of body language every moment of the day. The part of body language that we control consciously is facial expressions. You can be having a bad day and still try to wear a pleasant expression. Or you can be quite happy but appear to be angry if you wish. The problem is that when you try to force an expression that is not congruent with the remainder of your body language, it appears phony.

Take the example of the person in the picture above. He has a smile on his face, but his posture is not consistent with someone who is happy. His arms are crossed and he has a slouch. His eyes are squinting. The smile is not convincing and looks pasted on. While he is trying to look happy, the incongruent body language reveals another agenda. We are not really sure what the message is, but it sure isn’t a congenial look of happiness.

We can convey all kinds of emotions just by our facial expressions. For example, as you are reading this, can you convey the following emotions accurately?

Anger
Fear
Love
Happiness
Pain
Surprise
Disgust
Contempt

I think you will agree that it is rather easy to convey these emotions through facial expression. In his program, Bill Acheson shares some research that there is one emotion that men can convey with far greater accuracy than women. That emotion is guilt. His explanation is that for men, guilt is a two-person event “There’s things these guys have done that they thought was funny as Hell till they got found out.” For a woman, guilt is something that is experienced internally, so it is not easy for a female to show an expression of guilt.

One interesting exercise in reading facial expressions is provided by the Greater Good at Berkley Group. They have an online quiz that shows 20 facial expressions and you get to select from four possible explanations. The quiz is located at http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/ei_quiz/ You will find some of the expressions are easy to follow, but others are quite subtle.

Another example is to try to come up with a word that goes along with the following facial expressions.

 

For comparison to your list, here are the words I would use to describe these expressions in the order given. I do not expect us to agree on all of the interpretations, but I suspect many of them will be similar.

 

 

 

 

1. Pleased
2. Excited
3. Bummed
4. Coy
5. Upset
6. Calm
7. Exasperated
8. Incredulous
9. Scathing
10. Shocked
11. Pondering
12. Surprised
13. Withdrawn
14. Disgusted
15. Fatigued
16. Worried

Exercise for you today

Observe the facial expressions of your family and coworkers at a deeper level than normal today. Notice that you do this at a subconscious level every moment of the day. If you can make the practice more of a conscious activity, you will gain skill in this technique at a rapid rate.

Also notice how you react when one part of a facial expression seems to be at odds with the overall message. For example, if the general impression is a pleasant expression but the eyebrows are furrowed, then you would be less likely to trust your instincts about the person’s true emotion.

This is a part in a series of articles on “Body Language.” The entire series can be viewed on http://www.leadergrow.com/articles/Bodylanguage or on this blog.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 600 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763


Body Language 3 – Body Position Tells a Lot

November 25, 2018

Interpreting body language is an extremely complex science, as we will see in this series. However, we can pick up huge clues as to what is going on simply by observing the position of one’s body in space. Later in the series we will add details of facial expression and gestures, but this article focuses on grasping the big picture first.

We take in a lot of information simply by observing how the person is sitting or standing. For example, I was once meeting a good friend for lunch. We knew each other very well and were meeting to catch up on what was happening for each of us. I entered the restaurant and saw my colleague sitting in a booth with her back to me. She did not see me come in. As I made my way to the table, I said to myself, “Oh dear, Jane is having a crisis.” I could only see the back of her head and the angle of her shoulders, but I accurately observed a woman who was deep into a personal crisis in her life.

The trick here was knowing her habitual posture of sitting tall with head held high. When I observed her bent-over shoulders and bowed head, I figured either she way praying or feeling a great weight. Since it would be not like her to pray in public, it was easy to deduce she was in crisis.

Here is another example: I was once approaching a young man whom I had not met yet. I immediately observed that he: 1) took care of himself physically, 2) was an educated, polite, and articulate person, 3) knew how to dress properly for the occasion, and most importantly 4) was anxious to meet me. All of these traits were easy to spot, even before I observed his facial expression or we had shaken hands or spoken any words. All these clues were evident by the way he was walking and carrying himself.

Let’s imagine a female, but blank out her facial expression for an experiment. She is standing at a slight angle to you, but mostly directly facing you. Her hands are on her hips. Her head is erect and her shoulders are slightly to the rear. Her legs are straight and rigid. If that image of a woman does not cause you to cower a bit, whether you are male or female, you are not paying attention. We do not need the detail in her fingers or facial expression to accurately deduce that she is upset, and since she is facing you, it is pretty obvious you had better do some serious groveling.

Just for fun, let’s do another example. We see a picture of a man who is sitting in a straight chair with one hand on the arm of the chair and the other one extended with palm up. The man’s legs are crossed at the ankle in a relaxed position but his back and head are straight upright. We cannot see anything else, but could quickly deduce a few things about this scene.

It is implied that there is a second person here because of the man’s outreached hand. He is making a point to the other person, and, since his palm is up, he is advocating something (if he was pointing or had clenched fist we would deduce something different). There is an implied table or desk between the two people due to the way his legs are crossed. Since he is advocating something and is sitting erect, it is easy to guess that this is not a casual conversation about the weather or something trivial. This is an important conversation for the man. It could be a performance appraisal or a job interview. Notice how much meaning is implied from just a few nebulous clues and no detail.

In the real world, we have the general shape of a person to get us pointed in the right direction, then we add the more specific clues of facial expression or gestures to fill in the picture and increase our accuracy of decoding the scene.

Exercise for you today

Notice today how much information you can gather about a person’s mental state even before you take into account the more precise clues of facial expression and gestures. Also notice how something seems off kilter when you observe a person and the body position is incongruent with the facial expression.

Notice also how much more likely you are to trust your initial reaction to a person if his or her body language is easy to interpret and not ambiguous. We sense these things instinctively and at a subconscious level before we are even aware of them consciously.

Congruence in body language is a huge element, because we verify accuracy by the clusters of body language. For example, if the woman I approached in the restaurant at the start of this article had on a broad smile when I got close enough to see her face, I would immediately assume she was trying to deceive me. The smile would not appear to be genuine. In that case, I would need to dig and test in a number of ways before ascribing any specific emotion.

Try to become a master of taking in both the big picture and the minute details of body language, and you will grow in your ability to decode information correctly.

This is a part in a series of articles on “Body Language.” The entire series can be viewed onhttps://www.leadergrow.com/articles/categories/35-body-language or on this blog.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 600 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763


Body Language 2 The 5 C’s of Body Language

November 17, 2018

Interpreting the body language of others or ourselves is an art form. If you can do this well, you have an incredible advantage that can help you make better decisions and take more appropriate actions. In this series I will be covering hundreds of typical signals we give out with our body language.

The entire body of work needs to be tempered with what I call the Five C’s of Body Language. These are cautionary areas where we might unwittingly misinterpret some body language we are seeing. Knowing and taking these concepts into account will improve your accuracy of interpretation regardless of the specific body language you are witnessing.

1. Context

You must consider what is going on around the signal, what happened just before, where the person is located, what else is going on, and all other factors.

For example, if I am talking with you and I scratch my nose, it will usually mean I have an itch on my nose. But, if I am on the witness stand and have not touched my nose for an hour, it is a different context. When the prosecutor asks me about the bloody knife, and my finger goes to the side of my nose as I answer the question, that is a strong indication that I am lying or at least exaggerating.

Here is another example; if I raise my hand and then move so my palm is down while we were sitting in a quiet theater, it would mean “be quiet.” If, however, I made the same gesture while we were racing to get to a hospital after an accident, it would more likely mean “remain calm.”

2. Clusters

Since there are dozens of body language signals going on with each person at any given time, you should not ascribe heavy meaning to any single one. Instead, look for clusters.

If I see 5 indications in your body language that you are experiencing anxiety, the symptoms start to add up.

I can witness you rubbing your palms, rapid blinking, hair on arms standing out, foot movement, heavy swallowing, and shifting of weight. I might also notice more perspiration than normal.

With signals like these, I can be pretty certain you are anxious. Taking any one of those signals as the only indication, my guess that you are anxious is a lot weaker.

3. Congruence

If your words, your tone of voice, and your body language are telling me the same thing, chances are I am getting a true signal. When you are saying one thing, but your body language shows a different pattern, I need to be alert that you may be trying to deceive me in some way. I need to be vigilant and test more for congruence.

If there are several indications of incongruence, I should conclude you are not telling me the full truth.

For example, suppose I have an argument with my supervisor and she stomps off to her office. I wait for an hour then approach her humbly with a question, “Are you still mad at me?” If she wheels around with furrowed brow and crossed arms and says in a stern voice, “NO!” I can be pretty certain that she really meant to say, “YES!”

Congruence in body language has a lot to do with creating higher trust. When your body language is consistent with your verbal cues, you are being more authentic, and this consistency demonstrates you are a trust worthy person.

4. Consistency

Look for patterns in people’s behavior. I might have you as a student in my class and notice you are holding your head up with the palm of your hand. I might conclude you are bored with this lecture, but as I look for consistency I see a pattern.

You have shown other signs of fatigue since you arrived for class this evening. A few questions might confirm that you were up all last night with the baby. It had nothing to do with the quality of my lecture.

5. Culture

People tend to forget that cultural differences in body language are huge. For example, if you are an Eskimo, moving your head up and down means “no,” while shaking your head from side to side means “yes.”

An obvious difference in culture is the issue of proximity. When talking with a person from a Middle Eastern culture, expect the gap between you and the other person to be significantly less than when addressing a person from a western culture.

It is critical to understand the body language patterns in the culture you are currently in, as they may significantly modify the message. A great book to help you sort out these differences, particularly if you travel a lot on business, is Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands: How to Do Business in Sixty Countries, by Terri Morrison, Wayne Conway, and George Borden, Ph.D.

Once you become adept at reading body language, you will be more likely to read the intentions and meaning of other people and also improve your own ability to project your intentions accurately. It is one of the best ways to improve your communication skills.

This is a part in a series of articles on “Body Language.” The entire series can be viewed on https://www.leadergrow.com/articles/categories/35-body-language or on this blog.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 600 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763


Body Language 1 – New Series on Body Language

November 10, 2018

This is the first in a series of articles on the topic of body language. I normally publish my articles on the weekend but may skip a week now and then. I have no way of knowing how many articles will be in this series, but we might guess it will take over 100 weeks to fully explore this rich and vital topic area.

You can benefit from following this series because the ability to accurately interpret body language signals sent by other people (consciously or unconsciously) will give you a significant advantage in every interface. In addition, knowing what signals you are sending with your own body language will sharpen your skill at communicating with others accurately.

I have been studying Body Language for over 40 years, and I am still on a steep learning curve. The topic area is not only endlessly fascinating, it is vital for understanding other people well regardless of your position.

My curiosity for the topic was piqued in 1975 when I read the book “How to Read a Person Like a Book,” by Gerald Nierengberg and Henry Calero. The book gave a philosophy of how to read the thoughts and intentions of other people, even if you do not pay attention to the words.

My own experience amplified how important body language is when I was stationed in Guadalajara, Mexico, for a couple years early in my career. At first, I had no understanding of the language, but I found it possible to follow the discussions and arguments in meetings simply by paying attention to the voice inflections and body language of the participants.

Another source of understanding was a wonderful DVD produced by Bill Acheson from University of Pittsburgh. His humorous style and deep insights based on research about body language had me spellbound throughout his program entitled, “Advanced Body Language.”

I also became familiar with the work of Albert Mehrabian: a psychology professor at UCLA, who reported a series of experiments in the mid 1960s. There is some confusion about the bottom line, but I understand his results showed that only 7% of meaning comes from the words we use. The other 93% come from a combination of the body language and tone of voice. It is important to point out that Mehrabian’s experiments only hold true when we are talking about our feelings or attitudes. This conclusion was amplified well by Creativity Works in a little cartoon called “Busting the Mehrabian Myth.”

More recently I have used the internet where there are countless primers on body language. One example is Psychology Today, which has many tips for understanding body language. There is also an excellent quiz in Greater Good Magazine for how well you can read facial expressions. For additional resources, just type body language into your search engine, and you will find hundreds of other sites to explore.

These resources are just a sampling of the material I have digested on body language over four decades. The topic is truly endless in its interpretations. In this series, I will share observations from my own work colored by what I have found in the external resources. Sometimes I will agree with the experts, and sometimes I will have a caution or even a contrary view.

Every person on the planet can benefit from becoming more aware of the signals being sent by other people. As a professional, you will be more alert and thus more successful as you gain skill in this mode of communications. We all interpret body language all the time, but the more you know the better your interpretations will be.

In each segment, I will link the specific gesture or topic to the concept of building or maintaining trust, since that is my primary area of professional interest. As we understand and practice greater body language control, we become more authentic. This control helps us build higher trust on a daily basis.

There are some precautions, however, when trying to interpret meaning from body language. It is rather easy to get a false signal and experience some confusion. I will be dealing with some of these problems in my article next week in what I call “The Five Cs of Interpreting Body Language.”

For example, one of the Cs is that body language is culture specific. You cannot be sure that the meaning you ascribe to one type of body language in your culture is the same in other cultures. It can get very complex, so you need to be alert for the traps and keep studying.

I hope you will enjoy this series and benefit from it. Please also share any counterpoints you have to the ones I make. Also please share articles that are helpful to you with others so they can benefit from them. I am still learning and want to have the benefit of your views and observations along the way.

This is a part in a series of articles on “Body Language.” The entire series can be viewed on https://www.leadergrow.com/articles/categories/35-body-language or on this blog.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 600 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763


Successful Supervisor 100 Your Leadership Legacy

November 3, 2018

The legacy left behind by a departing leader reflects the caliber of leadership. John Maxwell summed it up in “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”:

“When all is said and done, your ability as a leader will not be judged by what you achieved personally or even what your team accomplished during your tenure. You will be judged by how well your people and your organization did after you were gone. You will be gauged according to the Law of Legacy. Your lasting value will be measured by succession.”

Pass your legacy of exceptional leadership skills to future generations by becoming a grower of other leaders. Doing this not only helps the new generation, but it also enhances the performance of your current team.

Modeling and teaching outstanding leadership skills is the most effective way to bring your organization to the pinnacle of success and keep it there. You need to make this investment, but it is a joyous one because it enhances the quality of work life for everyone. As a leader, you will have more success, more joy, more followers, and more rewards.

When leading an organization, large or small, you can’t do it all. Running the details of a business must be done through others. In large organizations, there might be thousands of others. You need an organization of trusted lieutenants to accomplish the work. To do this, you need to shift your focus from manager to teacher.

The best leaders are those who believe it is their highest calling to personally help develop the leaders who work for them. A large portion of their mindset is spent evaluating, training, and reinforcing leaders under them.

The training is not centered on classes or consultant seminars. There will be some of that, but the bulk is personal coaching and mentoring by the leader. The best leaders spend 30-50% of their time trying to enhance the caliber of leaders on their team. Why is this? When you improve the capability of leaders working for you, the whole organization is improved. You are leveraging your leadership.

In my line management role, my job title was Division Manager. I saw my function, just as I am doing in this series of articles, as “growing leaders.” I found that spending time and energy on growing leaders gave a better return than spending time inventing new HR practices or supply chain procedures. John Maxwell, in “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,” called it the Law of Multiplication. He makes the distinction between developing followers or leaders as:

“Leaders who develop followers grow their organization only one person at a time. But leaders who develop leaders multiply their growth because for every leader they develop, they also receive all of that leader’s followers. Add ten followers to your organization and you have the power of ten people. Add ten leaders to your organization, and you have the power of the ten leaders times all the followers they influence. That’s the difference between addition and multiplication.”

Develop leaders in as many layers as you have under you. If there are three layers between you and the masses, then develop three layers of leaders. It is not enough to work on the group closest to you. They will get the most attention, simply by proximity and need for interface time. To be effective, you need to work at all leadership levels and make it a personal priority.

Jack Welch is probably the best example of this in industry. At his famous School of Leadership at Crotonville, he was personally involved in mentoring and coaching the thousands of leaders in General Electric. Jack believed that teaching was what he did for a living.

“It was easy for me to get hooked on Crotonville. I spent an extraordinary amount of my time there. I was in the Pit once or twice a month, for up to four hours at a time. Over the course of 21 years, I had a chance to connect directly with nearly 18,000 GE leaders. Going there always rejuvenated me. It was one of the favorite parts of my job.”

Do the mentoring and development yourself. Do not hire a consultant to do it. It is fine to have help for certain specific skills, but is a big mistake to let the professional trainers take over. Leadership development must be your passion, one that you take seriously enough to consume a significant part of your time. You don’t send people to a one-day seminar and expect them to come out good leaders. The combined snake oil of 100 consultants cannot transform your team into effective leaders as well as you can. Warren Bennis summed it up as follows:

“True leaders… are not made in a single weekend seminar, as many of the leadership-theory spokespeople claim. I’ve come to think of that as the microwave theory. Pop in Mr. or Mrs. Average and out pops McLeader in sixty seconds.”

Teaching must cover all aspects of leadership. Modeling the way, as well as doing formal training, is the balanced approach that pays off. I always considered leadership training a great way to engage in serious dialog with my team about things that really mattered. I would always come away with new insights. Frequently, it felt like I was receiving more than giving. It is a way to “sharpen your own saw” while you mentor others, a real win-win.

As you use this technique, keep notes on what works best and what you are learning about leadership. Keep a file and develop your own trajectory of leadership. Share this with your team and gain further insight through the dialog. Try different situations and reactions, keeping track of your success. In other words, manage your own leadership progress. You will become fascinated with this and gain much from it.

If you are a young leader, you may not feel qualified to mentor others. My advice is to start as soon as possible anyway. Since this is part of your lifelong pursuit of leadership, the sooner you begin teaching, the more you will know. Teaching is the best way to learn something. I suggest you teach what you already know and seek to learn what you need to know. Don’t come across as a know-it-all in your mentoring, especially if you are inexperienced. Rather, ask people to go on an exciting journey with you toward more effective leadership.

I hope you have enjoyed this series on “The Successful Supervisor.” I have tried to cover topics that would be helpful for incumbent or aspiring leaders at the supervisor level. I am not inclined to compress this series into a book or video series. I think it is best left to posterity as a blog series of articles that can be read and re-read and passed around to others at no cost to you. Best of luck to you on this wonderful journey called leadership.

This is a part in a series of articles on “Successful Supervision.” The entire series can be viewed on http://www.leadergrow.com/articles/supervision or on this blog.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 500 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763