As an actor and performing artist, I have worked for many years to understand how my emotions show up on my face and in my body.
As a sales executive, I didn’t think about how my emotions appeared. I’d get caught up in whatever was going on that day – deadlines, time crunches, to-do lists, etc. – and not think very much about what expression I was wearing. I had too many other things going on!
Other people certainly noticed though. I had started to wonder why people weren’t approaching me or seeking help as much as they probably should. Then I had an honest conversation with my team and other people in the office and discovered I spent the day walking around with a strained frown. “You always look as though you’re busy and stressed,” explained my office mates. “We didn’t want to bother you!” Since my expression always signaled that I was busy and unavailable, they kept their distance and tuned me out.
Harvard Business School Professor Joshua Margolis hit then nail on the head when he said, “Leadership is about how someone else experiences themselves in your presence.” If people feel welcomed and invited to bring their Best Selves to every interaction with you, then they will. If they feel small, or a bother when they’re in your presence, they won’t. My colleagues thought I was always too busy for them, and adjusted their behavior such that they…