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Home » Communication, Leadership

The Face of Leadership today

Submitted by on Friday, 12 February 2010One Comment

How important is your face to other’s perception of you as a leader?

Very, says recent research conducted by Dan Hill of  Sensory Logic into the effect individuals’ faces have on their communication and relationship with others.

Those familiar with Professor Mehrabian’s research on the impact of body in communication (specifically face) will be aware that while words and voice account for 7% and 38% of interpersonal impact respectively, body and facial language make up the remaining 55%.

It may not come as a great surprise, then that there is increasing interest into the effect leaders’ facial expressions have on their audience.

Dan Hill has taken up the challenge (started by Charles Darwin) to catalogue the effect these facial expressions have on other people.

Using his methodology, grouping facial expressions into being either positive or negative based on five human characteristics, he studied the communication styles of eight business leaders including Bill Gates, Donald Trump and Larry Ellison.

The findings, below, may surprise you:

  • Warren Buffet (Berkshire Hathaway) – 69% Positive, 39% Negative
  • Jeff Bezos (Amazon) – 51% Positive, 49% Negative
  • Michael Dell (Dell Computer) – 47% Positive, 53% Negative
  • Bill Gates (Microsoft) – 73% Positive, 27% Negative
  • Steve Jobs (Apple) – 48% Positive, 52% Negative
  • Rupert Murdoch (News Corp.) – 17% Positive, 83% Negative
  • Donald Trump (Trump Organization) – 16% Positive, 84% Negative
  • Larry Ellison (Oracle) – 0% Positive, 100% Negative

Poor old Larry Ellison… not even able to muster a single positive expression!

As Hill puts it:

“Ellison is really grim, nervous. He’s driven and determined. He shows anger and arrogance on his face,” Hill says. “I would not consider this an open person, the opposite of an Oprah (Winfrey). See how his eyebrows are pulled together. This is someone who is not very comfortable in his own skin.”


Facial Communication is Global

Following decades of reseach, Dr Paul Ekman has discovered that facial expressions are not cultural but global (there are by his calculation over 10,000 combinations of facial expressions!)

Leadership Training ThailandThis is important for any professional working in Asia as nonverbal communication is clearly an important component of leadership effectiveness.

Dan Hill has shown the significance of this in the news clip below comparing the impact of facial expressions by Barack Obama and John McCain in their presidential campaigns.



Learn the Face of Leadership today… with Talent Technologies!

If nonverbal communication is an important part of leadership, how can we improve our skills in this area?

Talent Technologies offers two programmes in our Communication discipline.

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Emotional Intelligence is a one-day programme (with an optional 28 Day Later follow-up) where participants learn to know themselves, choose themselves, and give themselves.

An awareness of our own physical energy and facial expressions is central to this.

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One Comment »

  • […] classic, "Climbing From the Fifth Station: A guide to building teams that work!"Related blog postsThe Face of Leadership Today | Management Training Thailand …Weekend Video: Fake Steve Jobs Has No Love For iPad | Free-Calls …A conversation on the new role […]

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