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The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help—or Hurt—How You Lead by Carol Kinsey Goman

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6

HE LEADS, SHE LEADS

Gender and the Body Language of Leaders

Let's say you divide a large work group into two teams. In the first group you assign a female leader, and in the second, a male. The two teams employ very different problem-solving strategies. In one, there is consensus and collaboration; in the other, clear direction and a hierarchical approach to decision making. If you didn't know which was which but had to guess, you'd probably say that the first team was led by the woman and the second by the man. And, most often (but not always), you'd be right.

When generalizing about any population segment—especially such large and diverse segments as “male” and “female”—there is bound to be a degree of inaccuracy and stereotyping. As you read this chapter, you will think of many individuals to whom the generalizations don't apply. Yet science has discovered some major gender differences in brain function, evolutionary predisposition, and communication style that can have a profound effect on the way men and women behave and are perceived in leadership roles.

This chapter explains the ways that gender can influence the body language of leaders. You will learn how the brains of men and women react differently to emotion and stress, how unconscious and unspoken reactions can undermine an emergent female leader, how followers evaluate the communication strengths and weaknesses of male and female leaders, and how to alter, accommodate, or modify your body language to be more effective. ...

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