“Charisma is not just saying hello. It’s dropping what you’re doing to say hello.”
– Robert Brault, Author
Most people understand that a charming and friendly person is much more welcoming than the opposite. Yet when imagining a strong, effective leader, many people envision a straight to the point, firm voice that is more or less “telling people what to do.” But in reality, some of the most effective leaders are as charismatic as they come. Working to improve your charisma and overall charm can actually have a significantly positive effect on leadership abilities and opportunities.
The tricky thing about charisma is that it can be relative and can largely depend on your particular audience. Trying too hard in this department can often come off as overbearing or unsure, two attributes you likely do not want to portray as a leader. That being said, there is somewhat of an agreed-upon baseline of charisma that is acceptable in almost all occasions. Even just a subtle shift in tone can mean a world of difference when trying to establish trust and relationships with those you lead.
It is important first to be welcoming in all aspects of communication. Whether it be first time introduction or daily greetings, showing honest salutations and openness can help others get past the awkwardness that hinders a lot of relationships. To establish this, show a singular focus when interacting with the person by looking them in the eye, giving them room to talk, and not making quick judgments. Showing the ability to listen and respond based on the other person’s input, rather than moving everything along too quickly, helps establish a trust that will allow you to work more efficiently with those you lead in the future.
However, charisma can work both ways at times. Those who attempt to be too charming can often come off as dishonest and manipulative. It is important in this regard to speak with gentle honesty and directness when needed. After all, you are the one tasked as a leader and it is your responsibility that everyone is on the same page and productively working toward the same goal. Understanding charisma as a tool that inspires others to reach these goals is crucial to maintain a positive working environment.
Kelly D. Scott
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization