Embodying Leadership

Definition of “embody:”

  • To invest with bodily form
  • To personify an idea
  • To represent in concrete form
  • To make part of a system or whole

To embody a particular philosophy, approach, or skill set incorporates each of the bulleted definitions of “embody” listed above. Even with the definition bulleted out for us, the exact meaning of what it might be like to embody a quality remains a bit abstract. It’s actually a pretty simple thing to do. You can begin by remembering or imagining how someone who demonstrates or possesses a particular quality looks.

  • How might they hold their body?
  • What kind of facial expression might they wear most often?
  • What is the quality of their eye communication?
  • How do they move?
  • What mood do they emit or broadcast?
  • How would you describe their energy?

A magical aspect of the visual / physical mode of communication is simply that the quality with which we “show up” – how we allow ourselves to appear – actually works to produce how we feel. People who move from “center,” are generally more balanced and centered in more situations than people who haven’t developed an awareness of “center,” or haven’t developed the distinctions of how to find “center” when they need it. People who occasionally check their facial expressions and know how to relax them, tend to hold less personal tension and have more emotional resilience than those who do not have the awareness or training to shift their emotional state from the outside – in. You might say it’s a form of “faking it,” but the actual physical/psychological response is far too profound to be equated with mere phoniness.

Embodiment does however require self awareness, self discipline, thought and commitment. You have to think deeply about your convictions, feel them and notice the physical sensations they may produce in your body. And you have to be willing to catch your own resistance, laziness, or inertia about expressing them. Moving toward embodiment may only require a simple physical shift, but many subtle shifts may need to be made many times for an expression to become characteristic.

You may wonder why anyone would want to shift their natural way of being, or immediate first response to a situation. Authenticity is a concern. I’d say it’s always beneficial to be aware of, have and feel our natural responses. Making a move to shift before you’ve experienced something can be self-alienating. It’s good to acknowledge – “Wow, I feel scared and my fear is limiting my motivation.” (As one example.) It is sometimes even appropriate to let others know. Self-revelation sometimes deepens the connection with others. But any form of personal growth or reaching to express a worthy goal often requires the discipline and skill to self-manage in relation to a value, principle or goal.

By investing our own bodily form, facial expression, vocal tone and the words we speak, with a sense of openness, centeredness, leadership; we give those qualities a powerful presence and influence in our environment. Values and principles are represented in concrete form. They can be seen, heard, experienced, and sensed daily. We personify the ideas. They become foundational electrical impulses of a very positive form of brain wave entrainment. We show the practices and beliefs to be an integrated part of our personal system – our body, our way of being, and thereby also do our individual part in infusing them into the group, the workplace, and the company.



  • I actively provide an atmosphere of respect and rapport
  • I use breathing to center and keep me present
  • I choose my behaviors with awareness of their affect
  • I notice tension in my body
  • I choose whether to carry tension or release it
  • I am aware of my mood and it’s potential impact on others
  • I am aware of how my posture, body language and facial expression impact my own mood, communication, and the environment
  • I note my facial expression and can relax and smile
  • I am able to check and alter my mood before delivering important messages
  • I am aware that HOW a message is delivered often has more meaning than the content of the message
  • I shift to open body language for important communications
  • I know how to find centeredness and balance in my body
  • I look for ways to add energy, encouragement and fun to the environment
  • I find things to appreciate about associates and the workplace
  • I understand that being skillful with “ the 93%” – my visual & vocal expression – can change perceptions and reopen communication
  • I acknowledge that being aware of how I show up the environment gives me the opportunity to impact it positively

Similar Posts