During this past college basketball season I compared the body language of two coaches in an attempt to show that a leader must be aware of his or her non-verbal messages. The two related posts can be found at https://jvearle.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/contrasting-styles/ and https://jvearle.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/non-verbal-messages-speak-loudly/.
This week we saw another good example of the power of body language. After the New England Patriots defeated the New York Jets on Thursday night, Tom Brady, the Patriots star quarterback, commented how he needed to improve his body language. This assessment from Brady came after he was shown numerous times on television yelling at receivers, flailing his arms in frustration, and displaying very negative body language. The cause of Brady’s aggravation was primarily a group of young receivers who were dropping passes and running the wrong routes. Brady had reason to be frustrated. But as one of the premier quarterbacks in the league and a leader on his team, Brady realized that he must do a better job of concealing his negative emotions.
In work and in life, we will all face aggravation and frustration. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned. But as leaders, we cannot let our team members see this frustration. If we show frustration through our body language or even our verbal messages, we communicate a sense of panic and negativity to our teams. As leaders, we should do everything we can to keep negativity out of our organizations. Controlling our body language is one way to do this. In addition, when the leader shows frustration, he gives permission to other team members to behave this way. If team members see this as acceptable behavior, a culture of negativity can grow throughout the organization. And all this can start from the non-verbal messages sent by the leader.
While Tom Brady’s behavior was unacceptable for a leader of his stature, I should acknowledge the strong leadership he displayed when he admitted his mistake. Brady took responsibility for his actions and made it clear that he knew this was an area he needed to improve. No one is perfect. You will make many mistakes on your leadership journey. When you do, follow the lead of Tom Brady; admit your mistake, make a commitment to improve, and become a better leader.
Thanks for reading,
Ways to follow Dr. Jim Earle:
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Book – 100 Yards of Success: Leadership Lessons from College Football, http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=9781625107312