When you start managing your new business, change careers, or start aiming for a promotion, there’s a tendency to get wrapped up in the details of thinking, looking, and acting the “right way” to land the sale. Often, this can make us appear anxious, needy, or even desperate to our co-workers, customers, and clients.
Sheryl Sandberg wrote eloquently about “leaning in” when it comes to our work and careers; however, at times the best thing to do is actually lean back, own our space, and visually project the confidence that we need to succeed. If you “fake it ‘til you make it,” you’ll soon find that the confidence and trust that you have in your business is actually materializing. Once you stop running after clients, chasing money, and worrying so darn much, things actually get easier.
Here are four ways to relax into your new role at work, whether you’re an intern or the CEO.
4 Ways To Prove You Are a Powerful Leader Without Saying a Word
1. Lean Back
Like, literally lean back in your seat.
If you’re not leaning back right now while you’re reading this, shift yourself into a more comfortable back-leaning position. Did you feel the difference in your energy and attitude? When we lean back, we open ourselves up to new ideas, new energy, and lower our stress levels.
However, this doesn’t mean slouch in your seat. When done right, the proper lean back keeps you comfortable while also making you appear alert and straight in your chair. The only one who may really notice the subtle difference is you – in how you feel while chatting with others and how your posture is affecting your emotions.
To get the perfect lean back posture, keep a small amount of space behind your back and the chair, and tilt your hips forward a bit. This posture is perfect for important meetings, negotiations, new client assessments, and consultations (especially when you are both meeting for the first time to see if you’re a good fit). It’s a great posture when you need to appear relaxed, yet in control: meetings where it will serve you well to appear happy and confident in who you are and what you’re selling.
2. Take Up More Space
To command respect and attention, you can also use power poses whenever practical and possible. In her 20-minute TED talk that’s been viewed over 34 million times, author and social psychologist Amy Cuddy explains how power postures can affect both testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and may even enhance our success.
Basically, her premise is that the more confident we appear (regardless of how nervous or jelly-like we feel on the inside) the more worthy we’ll be perceived by others. Our postures and poses also affect the chemicals within our own bodies – chemicals that can boost performance and mood to help us become more charismatic leaders.
3. Dress to Impress
While confidence shines from the inside, it’s also inferred by the way we carry ourselves, sit, move, and by how meticulous we are in grooming ourselves. While beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, there is much to say on proper grooming and styling.
One of my all-time favorite programs, the old TLC makeover show, “What Not to Wear,” hosted by Stacy London and Clinton Kelly, illustrated just how much impact proper style can have on other’s perception of us. The final wardrobe reveals on the program perfectly illustrated how, with a bit of style guidance, the right clothes for our body type, and the perfect accessories, our friends and family might hardly recognize us.
To achieve a fresh new look and personality, make a hard assessment of your closet. Employ purging tips to make room for new items. Set a budget and then take advantage of shops that offer classy and affordable basics on a budget. A Classy Career Girl also understands that sometimes you have to dress down to get ahead as well sometimes – in the face of still-pervasive sexism in the workplace. However, as your income and budget grows over time by following these principles, you can invest in classier, higher-end items to round out your wardrobe.
4. Image Counts
When we take the time and make room in our budgets for nice clothes, shoes, haircuts and color, unique statement jewelry, and other items – these things DO make a big difference in how people perceive us. This is why politicians, celebrities, and other high-profile individuals employ professional stylists as a vital part of their entourage.
Image, like or not, counts for a lot. When we fail to take care of ourselves, whether through laziness or misdirected priorities, it shows. Our personal style, or lack of it, can create a negative impression in the minds of those around us, including coworkers, staff, managers, and clients.
However, the reverse is also true. Have you ever heard the expression “dress for the job you want, not the job you have”? When we dress up – whether we are aiming for store manager or CFO – the people who are going to be making the decision about whom to promote are going to be judging us on whether we have what it takes to fill that role.
Will we be able to handle the pressure? Do we look and act the part? Are we able to represent the company the way it needs to be represented? When we start dressing smart early on, we become the role we want and avoid getting stuck in the job we have. This means that we climb the corporate ladder faster and smoother.
If you dress for the job you want, take care to employ power poses, lean back, and lean in, you’ll prove to others what a powerful leader you are.