Jacco Smits

PhD student
Room: RA-2412


My PhD research aims to further our understanding of the (oftentimes subtle) behavioral patterns that contribute to effective leadership. An important aspect of effective leadership in organizations is successful interaction with team-members. Nonverbal behavior plays an essential role in this because it accounts for a big portion of meaning and impact conveyed during social exchanges. Conveying effective nonverbal behavior is beneficial for both leaders and team-members because it affects both perceptions of, for example, a leader’s competence, authenticity or trustworthiness, and follower/team-related outcomes such as job satisfaction, high-quality relationships, and performance.

To examine the role of nonverbal behavior in effective leadership, I analyze video-based field data collected from regularly held staff-meetings in private and public organizations. I am interested in questions such as: “How does the nonverbal repertoire of highly effective leaders differ compared to that of relatively ineffective leaders?” or “What specific nonverbal patterns of behavior do transactional and transformational leaders display?”. To this end, I make use of specialized annotation software (The Observer XT) and a newly developed coding scheme to precisely annotate the nonverbal behavior of leaders and followers during work meetings. Moreover, I employ the thin slices methodology to study whether naïve raters can accurately judge leader traits (e.g. charisma or competence) based on very brief silent video-clips sampled from their behavioral stream. Examining how such ‘snap judgments’ are formed can lead to a greater understanding of how employees respond and subsequently behave towards their manager, supervisor or leader.


  • CMC: Change Management and Consultancy (MSc)
  • CHANGEL: Change Management and Leadership (BSc)
  • Supervision of BSc and MSc Business Administration students
  • Guest lecturer in BSc and MSc Honours programme


  • Leadership effectiveness
  • Change management & organizational behavior
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Team dynamics
  • Emotional intelligence


Keijser, W., Smits, J., Penterman, L., & Wilderom, C. (2016). Physician leadership in e-health? A systematic literature review. Leadership in Health Services29(3), 331–347. doi:10.1108/lhs-12-2015-0047

Link to my ResearchGate profile
Link to my Google Scholar page