As a leader you must never forget that you are the boss. You have power, and your decisions impact the lives and careers of the people on your team. Because you are the boss your people watch and analyze your every move—looking for meaning and clues to what you are thinking. What is most important to understand is that your people place meaning on your behaviors based on their own unique perspective.

Consider Colin, a sales manager in Burbank, California. One morning before work he had a heated argument with his wife. All the way into the office he stewed over the fight. Still upset when he got to the office Colin walked through the sales bullpen with an angry look on his face, and without saying a word to anyone, marched straight into the office and slammed his door. Once inside his office he took a moment to calm down and collect himself before starting his day.

Now this seems like a perfectly natural thing for a man who has had bad argument with his wife to do. It is understandable that his emotions might be hard to control. Everyone has bad days right? Well, no . . . not leaders? Why? After Colin slammed the door of his office . . .

- Mary, a rep who was behind quota for the month, thought to herself, Colin must be pissed at me for losing that sale yesterday. I’m probably getting fired. Then she stopped working while she worried what she was going to do about getting another job.

- John thought, I guess Colin just got fired. Here we go again, another sales manager. He then told Phil that he thought Colin was getting fired, and they spent the next half hour speculating rather than making sales calls.

- Janice, who was scheduled to ride with Colin that day became worried about Colin’s mood. She was already nervous about spending the day with the boss, and now she was considering just saying that she was sick and going home.

- Derek thought, How rude. I said good morning and Colin didn’t even acknowledge me. That’s the last time I do that!

Just like that, one after the other, Colin’s salespeople interpreted his actions based on their own particular circumstance. This in turn impacted that day’s sales performance and the team’s respect and loyalty to Colin.

As a leader you are always on stage. Everything you say or don’t say, do or don’t do, your facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language can and will have an impact on your people (and potentially your entire organization). Your words and actions have meaning, and the higher your level on the org chart the more a misspoken word, display of raw emotion, or slip of the tongue can hurt you and your people.

Author's Bio: 

Jeb Blount is a leading expert on leadership and human behavior. He helps companies, teams, and individuals transform their organizations and accelerate performance through intense focus on interpersonal relationships. He is the author of five books including People Follow You: The Real Secret to what Matters Most in Leadership, People Buy You: The Real Secret to what Matters Most in Business, Sales Guy’s 7 Rules for Outselling the Recession, Business Expert’s Guide to Small Business Success and Power Principles. To learn more call 706-664-0810 x102 or email