The First Lesson in How to Look Like a Leader



Movement catches the eye

What is the most popular window display at Christmas? What has crowds enthralled, captivated?

The train circling on a track at the toy store. Constant motion. Wheels turning, smoke blowing, bobbing heads.

Movement catches the eye.

Motion attracts attention. Which is useful in product promotion and entertainment.

The opposite holds true for leadership presentation.

Last night Your Business Blogger(R) Attended a social event at the Baltimore/Washington Corridor Chamber of Commerce. I did a simple exercise: I looked around the room. Whoever had the least body movement had the greatest “rank” in the room.

A gentleman named Walt caught my eye by what he didn’t do. Walt didn’t move much. Didn’t have his head a-bobbin’. Didn’t move his arms.

Walt Townshend is the president of the Chamber.

When he shook hands he barely moved.

Just as in Japan. Greetings reveal status. The person more junior in rank bows the deepest. The more senior may not barely move his head. The greater the station, the less the movement.

If you are learning to lead, be still.

Being still requires confidence. Following is a clip from Charmaine’s recent appearance with Heidi Fleiss on MSNBC with Rita Cosby. Charmaine shows you exactly what this looks like.

Heidi Fleiss, The Hollywood Madam shows you how not to do it. (Her face lifts are content for another article.)

Update: July 2009 YouTube

Video credit Peter Shinn.

Go to our friend Peter, from March Together, who very graciously loaded a clip of the Rita Cosby interview with Charmaine and Heidi.

Visit Peter’s blog to watch the video: Prostitution on the Bunny Ranch.

Jiggling half-clad bunnies got everyone’s attention. But it was clear which guest commanded the show.


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Thank you (foot)notes:

Charmaine Yoest, Ph.D., at Reasoned Audacity has the backstory.

Mudville Gazette has Open Post.

The Political Teen has Open Trackbacks.

Stop the ACLU has Friday Trackbacks.

Don Suber has Friday Open Trackbacks.

Adam’s Blog has Weekend Trackback Pary.

WizBang has Carnival.


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10 Responses

  1. Brian Gongol says:

    Interesting observation, but I’m going to have to quarrel with the conclusion. I think the stillness factor is dependent upon a lot of other cultural factors. I move and gesture and get practically aerobic whenever I talk or interact, and I don’t think it’s ever interfered with perceptions of my leadership.

    In fact, I daresay that in some circles (particularly some ethnic groups like the Irish or Italians, for instance), a person who fails to move or gesture when telling a story or making a speech would be downright suspect.

  2. The Drill SGT says:


    I’ll give you another tip in a similar vein.

    In the business world, we all have attended large cocktail parties, receptions or pre-dinner stand up gaggles where folks circulate and meet and greet.

    As in your example. The folks with status are stationary and those without status circulate.

    As taught by one of my mentors, a master at this sort of thing (Dr Seth Bonder), the secret is to position yourself near the entrance area, facing the entrance. This puts you in a stationary position (that of power) and folks who enter see you as the first recognizable face as they enter the arena. They are in a position where they are drawn (forced?) to come into your orbit and interact.

    Great technique for both meeting the largest number of folks and for maintaining your power position at the same time.

  3. Jack Yoest says:

    Brian, you are right: gestures during a speech or presentation from a podium can help make a point — 85% of communication being non-verbal, especially as seen from a distance in front of a large crowd.

    Less so in more intimate interactions, where clues are easier to pick up. I would submit that your leadership is effective because of other compelling attributes that command the attention of your subordinates — not (excessive?) gesturing.

    You may very well be the exception. My broad examples would be for all those ‘normal’ leaders on a bell curve. Not the exceptional outliers like you. This is a compliment.

    And you are right about other cultures. An Irishman or Italian failing to flail would seen to not be authenic when telling a tale.

    But having observed the leadership of Sinn Fein president Jerry Adams of the IRA, I believe his stillness is commanding, if not terrifying.

    Thanks for your ideas,


  4. Jack Yoest says:

    Drill SGT, Yours is a terrific example: positioning at the entrance would create your own receiving line.

    A counter example would be Alan Greenspan’s habit of sneaking in a room, doing a lap along the walls, then making a quick exit before being molested.

    Until one has the status of Greenspan, your strategic room positioning would be best for the rest of us mortals.



  5. Adam's Blog says:

    Weekend Trackbacks Party: November 18-20

    “If you go through the curriculum offered by the despicable Conservative Book Club, you’ll find books praising the Confederacy. You have children and parents who seriously believe Sherman burning down Atlanta was far more egregious than slavery or even…

  6. Warning: New Blog Showcase

    Warning: The New Blog Showcase Carnival is up at Bloggin’ Outloud. Great new entries covering a variety of topics. Read these new blogs or else!

  7. Interesting observation.

    Looking at the portrayal of power in film for elucidation, check out the Godfather. Look at how Michael Corleone’s character is introduced and developed throughout the movie, and how it’s contrasted with his less-status-worthy peers.

    From the beginning, Michael is portrayed as cooler, calmer, more restrained, and more controlled than those around him — and as a keener observer of other men.

    Of course, Godfather III pretty much undoes all the good work in the first two movies and portrays him as a raving lunatic.

  8. Jack Yoest says:

    Jason, Your example is particularly useful for those who use the Italians and Irish as cultures that use gestures in communication.

    A good case study would be of Coleone’s character and other Italians, say, Mussolini.

    I may have to start watching the Sopranos again.



  9. Lyn says:

    Thanks for participating in the New Blog Showcase. Interesting take on this topic. I come from the school that leaders are positive excited, tough and aggressive. Speed of the coach, speed of the team. Lyn at Bloggin Outloud.

  10. Jack Yoest says:

    Lyn, your thoughts remind me of Alexander Hamilton writing about “energy in the executive” of the nation’s chief executive officer.

    And our first CEO was George Washington who was rather remote, hated to be touched, aloof.

    He was not a man of sweeping gestures.

    You highlight a challenging balance: positive and excited, yet mature and measured.

    That’s worth seven figures a year.

    Thanks again,