This past week I was introduced to a person I may be coaching. It’s not necessarily something he’s really thrilled about. I can’t understand why he’s not chomping at the bit to spend quality time with me; but hey, I’ll get over it. His superiors seem to think we would hit it off famously.

I knew he was less than thrilled NOT because of his words, but because of his body. Immediately after our introduction, his body went rigid, his face grew tight and he became physically uncomfortable with his surroundings. The message was twofold (and I editorialize here):

1) O crap, this is really going to happen

2) How do I get out of here?

In the past few weeks, as I’ve met with clients, I’ve been struck again about how much I can learn from a leader’s body. In fact, if you know how to listen to your body, you can learn a lot about your leadership style, your emotional make-up in any given situation and how you are coming across to those around you.

Now, I would never want to draw major conclusions on body language alone. Sometimes it’s wrong. But, the body language that matters to you as a leader is the the type that you repeat. If you’re in a meeting and your jaw tightens every time someone challenges you, it might be time to ask this question:

What is my jaw trying to tell me about my leadership, in this moment, and why do I seem to get angry when challenged?

The beauty of our bodies is that they give us real-time feedback, if we know how to listen. What might your body be telling you today that could make you a better leader–a better person?