Publications & Products
Volume 3, Issue 11

Improved Posture Improves Performance

Managers who adopt certain body poses can boost their confidence and assertiveness, according to research.

The Wall Street Journal recently summarized details from multiple studies on the psychological impact of posture. By practicing a "power pose"—such as standing tall and leaning slightly forward with hands at one's side or leaning forward over a desk with hands planted firmly on its surface—individuals can increase their levels of testosterone and lower their levels of the stress hormone cortisol. These changes are linked to "better performance and more confident, assertive behavior," according to the article.

Leadership consultants suggest managers videotape themselves presenting to see how they carry themselves. Then, taking cues from research, break body-language habits that convey weakness and replace them with those that convey strength.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business identify the following as "high-power" body poses:

  • Taking up a large swath of space when sitting at a table, which conveys power and confidence
  • Staking out a broad surface on a desk with the hands, which conveys a sense of control
  • Opening limbs expansively when sitting down or standing, which expresses power and dominance

They identify the following as "low-power" body poses:

  • Crossing the arms and legs in a close-bodied posture, which expresses powerlessness
  • Touching the neck, face or hands, which is a symptom of stress, suggesting anxiety or a lack of control
  • Folding arms in front of the chest, which suggests defensiveness

This article is from the Sept. 9, 2013 issue.

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