How To Use Nonverbals To Be A Successful Conductor of People
Christopher Philip

According to research by Konstantin Tskhay, Honghao Xu and Nicholas O. Rule, we can tell which orchestra conductor will be successful from thin slices of nonverbal behaviour.

The image of the musical conductor, the guy who stands before a large group of musicians and leads them through a successful task, serves as an excellent metaphor for our purpose. The conductor represents the type of influence that many people wish to achieve from nonverbal communication generally. Thus, this study suits the nonverbalist well.

The study involved viewing and rating freely available video downloaded from Subjects then rated the performance of the conductor over various dimensions.

It was found that expressiveness, charisma, and age were the main contributors of perceptions of leadership which is consistent with the implicit leadership theories. That is, these elements fit into the stereotype of the conductor generally.

“Furthermore, perceptions of conductors’ age and expressiveness propagated through perceptions of success to actual success, suggesting that those leaders who seem to fit the general prototypical representation of leadership were indeed more successful,” say the researches in their paper.

Leadership has been said to be conceptualized through alignment, direction and commitment. We understand that leadership is meant to inspire, coordinate and manage – often diverse individuals. A proper leader is able to bring followers together toward a common goal. One main element of leadership is charisma. This is nothing more than a set of nonverbal expressions which produce a desire to follow. Stating that this is so, is far easier than trying to quantify exactly what it is that a charismatic leader actually does with his or her body. However, as found here, part of leadership is his expressiveness (use of gestures) as well as their fit into the leader prototype for which people expect (their age or experience).


Tskhay, Konstantin O.; Honghao Xu and Nicholas O. Rule., Perceptions of leadership success from nonverbal cues communicated by orchestra conductors, The Leadership Quarterly (2014),