Your Body’s Role in Leadership

Business Yoga

Our body’s role in leadership is more than just to carry our head around.

New discoveries in neurobiology are showing us that emotions are transmitted through our bodies.

This is important because, per the emotional intelligence guru, Daniel Goleman, the emotional state of a business organization is the number one determinant of its success.

As leaders, we must become more active in setting the emotional tone of our businesses.

The Reach of Emotional Energy

Emotions literally run rampant among people. Just by being in proximity of each other, without saying or doing anything, we influence each others’ emotions.

Psychologists as far back as 1981 found that when multiple people are in the same proximity, even for relatively short timeframes, they end up sharing the same mood.

Leaders have the greatest influence on the emotional tone of an organization because people are most aware of the leaders.

Heartfelt Leadership

Our bodies emit an emotional energetic field through our hearts. The Institute of HeartMath reports that heart fields reflect our emotional state and have been definitively measured to extend at least eight feet from our body.

However, researchers making this measurement openly state that the equipment used to measure the field was only capable of measuring up to eight feet, and they believe the field actually extends much further.

As we emit this energy, the heart fields of others around us synchronize with this energy.

Your Vibe is Showing

Be Deliberate about the Emotions You Project

This research reveals the importance of monitoring our own moods. When our teams feel positive, their cognitive and creative abilities are heightened, so it’s important that our own mood is consistently positive and coherent.

We must remember that if we show up cranky and frustrated, we’re generating unhealthy emotional environments where fear and anxiety will become commonplace.

These environments aren’t conducive to productivity and will eventually lead to massive burnout.

Purposeful Positivity

In addition to influencing the emotions of teams through osmosis, we can also deliberately project our energy towards a person or a group with the goal of changing their emotional state.

For example, two researchers, Marilyn Schlitz and Dr. William Braud in 1983 found that they could remotely influence nervous people to calm them down and increase their concentration.

Be Wise, Energize

These researchers weren’t specific about the process they used to influence others’ emotions, but I’ll outline the process I’ve used.

  • First make sure your energy is the most coherent, being totally present and positive.
  • Stop any mental chatter by focusing solely on the present moment and feeling gratitude for whatever is unfolding.
  • Then propel your energy towards the intended person or group by imagining your energy projecting out from you.

I find that I can project most strongly during my out-breath, when I imagine that my breath is carrying my energy towards the target.

Pacing Yourself

I’ll warn you that this process can be exhausting, especially if the group started out being very negative. Feeling yourself grounded into the earth, where you feel an extension from your feet into the core of the earth, can be useful in maintaining your positive energy and strength to project it.

Can you see yourself using this technique with confidence? Do you already use this type of technique or something similar? How would you use this as a leader? Please share your thoughts.


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Jackie Barretta is Managing Partner at Nura Group LLC
She uses scientific discovery to help businesses achieve industry best performance
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5 responses to “Your Body’s Role in Leadership

  1. I agree with this theory. body language and moods do set the standard of teh day. as leader , if I am having an off day, then entire office is aware that “something ‘ is off. remaining positive is a challenge but it is one that is well worth the extra effort. Even a smile can do a lot! Thank you for the article


  2. Thank you, Jackie, for reminding us that the energy of leaders is more contagious than the common cold. To your question of practice, I would add that, in my experience, the good intent to show up in the moment, be positive, all of that, works better if one has a centering physical practice that actually DOES create coherence in the human mind and body, such as meditation or an equivalent. Saying “I should be present” is usually not enough – when we’re not.


  3. Good post. I agree that your body language speaks volumes in terms of what you are trying to comunicate, how confident you are about what you are saying, and your relationship to the audience.

    It is a great reminder to be on your “A” game in all aspects of your presentation. And to remain aware even when you are not presenting, because someone is always watching and observing




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