Apparently more than 90% of our judgment upon meeting someone new comes from two areas:
Their warmth, engagement, and trustworthiness – What are his or her intentions toward me?
Their strength, agency, and competence – Is he or she capable of acting on those intentions?
Interestingly, most people think it’s important to project strength to others – but what they look for in others is warmth.
Most leaders today tend to emphasise their strength, competence and credentials in the workplace, but that can be exactly the wrong approach especially in schools. Leaders who project strength before establishing trust run the risk of eliciting fear, along with a host of dysfunctional behaviours. Fear can undermine cognitive potential, creativity, and problem-solving, and cause employees to disengage.
A growing body of research suggests that the best way to influence – and to lead – is to begin with warmth.
Warmth is the conduit of influence: It facilitates trust and the communication and absorption of ideas.
Prioritising warmth helps you connect immediately with those around you, demonstrating that you hear them, understand them, and can be trusted by them.
Without a foundation of trust, people in the organisation may comply outwardly with a leader’s wishes, but they’re much less likely to conform privately – to adopt the values, culture and mission of the organisation in a sincere, lasting way.
How does a leader project warmth in a way that doesn’t seem phony? Apart from your own personal sincerity, there are some physical characteristics that you can practise. **** SHOWING WARMTH
Speak in a lower, quieter tone. Talking at a lower pitch conveys the feeling of confiding and trusting. It’s also helpful to share an appropriate personal story that shows your warmth rather than your strength. Validate people’s feelings. Before people decide what they think of your message, they decide what they think of you. Smile. People can see through a false smile so think of positive things and focus on one person in the group rather than flashing a practised smirk. Genuine smiles are self-reinforcing, both for you and for others.
HOW DOES A LEADER PROJECT STRENGTH?
Feel in command. Warmth is hard to fake, but confidence is harder to talk yourself into. If you feel like an imposter, others will feel it. Face directly toward people you’re talking to, and avoid sharp gestures, frowning or an elevated chin. Balance your weight primarily on one hip to avoid appearing rigid or tense. Tilt your head slightly and keep your hands open and welcoming. Stand up straight. It is hard to overstate the importance of good posture in projecting authority and an intention to be taken seriously. This doesn’t mean standing rigidly at attention, military style. It just means reaching your full height and using your muscles to straighten your spine rather than slouching. Be poised. When you move, move deliberately and precisely to a specific spot rather than shambling round aimlessly. When you have finished moving, be still. Twitching, fidgeting, repetitive mannerisms, fussing with your hair or clothes all send the signal that you’re not in control. Stillness demonstrates calm and confidence.