There are times, of course, when smiling is not appropriate. When you are confronted with stories about harassment, assault or bullying, smiling indicates acquiescence and must be avoided. Similarly smiling at off colour jokes, especially those that denigrate individuals or groups, again indicates approval. That said, times of sadness call for resolve. You can indicate a sense of resolve with a smile, one that communicates empathy. Most of us do this instinctively in our private lives, but sometimes forget to do it when we get to work.
Smiling may seem like a small thing, and it is, but when you think of some of our great leaders, it was their smile that radiated their charm. Ronald Reagan was a beamer; his smile was incandescent and drew people toward him. Among corporate leaders, those who smile include Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon. Meg Whitman, CEO of eBay, too is often seen with a big broad grin. These are business leaders who understand the power of their presence and smiling is one way they connect to their people. So my grandfather was right after all, smile and the whole world does smile with you.
John Baldoni is a leadership communications consultant who works with Fortune 500 companies and nonprofits. He is a frequent keynote and workshop speaker as well as the author of five books on leadership, including the latest: Great Motivation Secrets of Great Leaders. He invites readers to visit his leadership resource website at http://www.johnbaldoni.com/.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.