Before you dismiss the premise that standing up straight can actually empower you in your next conversation with your CEO, consider the fact that such a premise is actually based on a study by researchers at Harvard and Columbia universities. Here is it, as it was published in Psychological Science, appropriately entitled “Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance.”
The research — by Harvard’s Amy Cuddy and Columbia’s Dana Carney, along with Columbia graduate student Andy J. Yap — is actually based on hormone levels that get triggered by certain “power poses,” according to the study.
It shows that people (both men and women) who take time to compose themselves and pose in open, confident positions experience a surge in testosterone and a decrease in cortisol. The former hormone is related to an increase in feelings of power and tolerance for risk, whereas the latter gets triggered as a reaction to stress.
As noted in a Sept. 25 story on allbusiness.com, the researchers “have confirmed something mothers have long taught their children: Sit up straight, shoulders back, posture counts.”
So, no surprise that an employee-development company called Employee Development Systems Inc. has just come out with a new product based on this research. It’s a course, actually, entitled “Professional Presence in a Casual World,” and according to this release about it (including a link to the company at the bottom of the page), some leading global orgranizations are already using it, or at least looking into it.
“Both domestic and international organizations are taking notice of this latest research,” the release states, “implementing professional-presence training, from front-line customer-service employees to middle managers, executives and leaders.
“While the focus for each job category varies,” it states, “the general strategies stay the same. Professional presence impacts business in ways we couldn’t have imagined in the past, and at a time when organizations are looking for an edge over competition, leaders are taking advatage of the core tactics of nonverbal communications to ensure that they come out on top.”
HR executives looking for every possible way to establish themselves as strategic partners of their CEOs, equally powerful in their leadership and negotiating skills as anyone else in the C-suite … well … they might want to think about their body language before knocking on their CEO’s door.