Studies of baboon troupes, revealed that a typical member glances at the alpha male every 20-30 seconds. But the leader doesn’t return their interest. Being a boss is much like being a high-status primate in a jungle environment. The others in the troupe watch the alpha male closely.
The same is true in businesses all over the world. Followers know a lot more about their leader than he knows about them. Attention is directed up the hierarchy. Of course, this is to be expected since people pay attention to those who control what’s happening to them in their environments.
Alpha men and women display certain behavioral characteristics in the way they act and communicate to assume control over each specific environment. Even if they are not speaking, their actions will be those of one who is confident, at peace and opportunistic towards the reality they have been presented with.
The reason for this is because 93% of human communication is non-verbal while the other 7% is verbal. Therefore, just by understanding someone’s body language, one can determine if the person they are observing is an alpha or not even if they are consciously unaware of what to look for.
Thoughts precede actions. That’s right. Knowing what an alpha would do, think or say is important to knowing how to act. And – here’s some good news – when you act like an alpha male, you start to feel like an alpha male. And those feelings perpetuate more alpha action… and so on. What I will share below is just the tip of the iceberg.
Anyone who’s been in authority knows what it feels like to get up from your desk and aware that people are watching your every move. It can be unnerving in the beginning, and then one comes to expect it. But can you use it to your advantage and for the good of the organization? I work with a lot of executives coaching them to not ignore this leadership tool. It’s surprising how many smart leaders forget they are being watched…
The author of the book, Good Boss, Bad Boss, Bob Sutton makes a good point that some leaders get so used to being scrutinized they become oblivious to it. This is a trap: it leads to being perceived as self-centered and unconcerned with what followers need, do, and say.
The thing to remember is this: it’s important to be aware that your moves will be observed and repeated. This means you can’t afford to be sloppy or inconsiderate or lazy or rude… ever.
How’s that for walking a tight rope? Not that you would be rude or sloppy, but who isn’t prone to being human? Some leaders get oblivious and hard-shelled to what others say or think of them as a means of protection from sensitive cores.
That’s the quick-sand, isn’t it? In order to “rise above” the fact that you can’t please all the folks all the time, you put on your rain coat and ignore things. But too much of that can bite you back.
The solution is to continue to ask and listen to others’ ideas and opinions. You can choose what to ignore and what to pay attention to. But you can never neglect the others who depend on you to lead them. Your followers will observe you as much as any chimpanzee, and as the alpha male your behaviors count.
And you thought you were so sophisticated… If I can help coach you to improve your executive presence, let me know.
Dr Surya M Ganduri, PhD. PMP. is the Founder & President of eMBC, Inc., an international firm specializing in strategic and executive leadership development processes that Help People Succeed in an Evolving World. Dr Surya has over 28 years of business experience in management consulting, leadership development, executive coaching, process improvements, organizational development and youth leadership. For more information visit www.eMBCinc.com or contact eMBC, Inc., directly at (630) 445-1321.