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Published on May 15, 2018

Charismatic Leadership: The Definitive Guide to Influence People

Charismatic Leadership: The Definitive Guide to Influence People

Have you ever noticed that some people seem to be natural leaders and other struggle with it? We see it work all the time. Some managers have a team that jumps and does everything a step ahead of all the other teams. They are more dedicated and more productive. They are happy and productive. It turns out it’s not just a great team. It could have something to do with the charisma of the leader.

In this guide, we are going to explore charismatic leadership. You’ll learn what it is and why it’s important. You are also going to learn some simple and effective actions that you can take right now to further develop your charismatic leadership skills.

What is charismatic leadership?

A charismatic leader can also be called a magnetic leader. They are a leader who other people are drawn to. Just like a magnet is inexplicably drawn to metal, people are drawn to charismatic leaders for reasons they often don’t fully understand. However, the reasons become clear once you understand more about what makes these leaders special.

These are some of the common qualities that make a leader charismatic:

  • Charismatic leaders have a strong vision that supports the values of their followers.
  • Charismatic leaders are good at communicating with their audience. They tell relatable stories and catch people’s attention.
  • Charismatic leaders are confident. They believe in themselves and don’t show doubt or fear.
  • Charismatic leaders are optimistic. They envision their mission and believe they can make it happen.
  • Charismatic leaders put others first. They not only lead, but also protect the people they lead.
  • Most importantly, charismatic leaders build an emotional bond with their followers.

You’ve probably noticed that these are also some of the common qualities that make any great leader. So what makes a charismatic leader different? How do they do things different or better?

A charismatic leader vs A great leader

It’s not the skills themselves that is different.

It’s all in how they execute their leadership skills. It’s all about style, personality and presence.

There is an appeal to listening to a charismatic leader. They seem to know exactly what to say. People feel comfortable and at ease when they speak. Their words don’t make people more tense. People want to listen to what they say.

They seem to have a natural ability to take control of a room, or a meeting, or a situation. They are hopeful, optimistic and strong – and they project these qualities into the people they lead.

They keep people’s attention and thoughts on track. They can bring your brain back to the topic at hand when it gets scattered. Their words bring people together. In fact, followers of a charismatic leader seem to be stronger and smarter just by the presence of the leader.

Their confidence is contagious. People following them or working under them have more confidence because of them. They know he has their back. People are stronger when they know their leader has their back. They are stronger because a charismatic leader provides a shield of protection. A charismatic leader instills confidence that makes people strong. People feel good about doing things for them.

They never bully. They know how to balance their power. It’s never abused. They never ignore people they lead. They never belittle people, use passive aggressive behavior or make threats – even though they could. They wield their power with just the right balance. The way they use their power earns respect.

You may say “Wow!”

Yes, they have a wow factor. That wow factor is charisma. They have such a balanced personality and sense of style like a Hollywood movie super hero.

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Is charisma something you’re born with?

A Hollywood movie hero might sound far fetched but it’s not. Think about Clint Eastwood, Matt Damon and George Clooney. They’re all real people who learned to play roles of somebody with cool style. You can learn how to be somebody with cool style. You can learn to be a charismatic leader too. You don’t need anything special, just the will to learn.

Sure, some people are born with charisma and they are naturally good at it, but anybody can develop the skills. Anybody.

Yes, you too can develop the skills of a charismatic leader even if you struggle to lead.

Developing the fundamental skills of a charismatic leader will help you manage your team at work. It will help you get more productivity out of your team. It will enable you to command the room during a meeting. Your employees will listen to what you say. People will be intrinsically motivated to help you out.

The first step to becoming a charismatic leader is to understand what’s going on inside our head.

Advantages and disadvantages of charismatic leadership

Why are we charmed and influenced by someone’s charisma? It turns out we are wired to be influenced by a charismatic leader.

There is psychology at work behind this leadership style. In the bestselling book Influence, Robert Cialdini describes six powerful techniques that are used to influence people everyday. Many charismatic leaders are using two of the six techniques all the time in everything they do — authority and liking.

Most leaders today are managers in a business setting. They lead teams at work or teams across different companies. If you’re a business owner or entrepreneur, then you are leading teams that work for you. All leadership positions at work have some level of authority built-in. People listen to them because they are getting paid. Money is the ultimate tool to build authority.

As a leader, you need to have authority. It comes with the territory. If you aren’t in a leadership position, you need to work on getting there. It’s critical that you are elevated into that position. Presidents are elected, managers are hired or promoted. You can’t assert or fake your way to the top.

Even with established authority, you can still have problems with leadership if you aren’t doing more.

People are fond of you

A charismatic leader must have power and liking.

In Dr. Cialdini’s book, he describes how people will do things for people they like. He states,

“we most prefer to say yes to the requests of someone we know and like.”

Now the book talks a lot about how salesmen use influence to get you to buy, but it isn’t totally different from getting your team to support your project. A salesman is motivating you to buy a car, you’re motivating your team to do their best on your project.

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The difference is in the approach. You don’t need a short-term bond like the salesman. Yes, it helps to have a similar interest. If you both like Baseball, it’s a nice common ground to have. It can help increase your likability.

But leadership goes deeper, people like you because they feel that you care about them and they trust you.

They like you because you smile and say hi to them when you pass them in the hallway. They like you because you make eye contact when you see them. They like you because you remember something personal about them – like they have 3 kids and their oldest son loves Baseball. And most importantly, they feel and trust that you will look out for them.

That is why people like a charismatic leader.

Now a warning: there is a fine line between friendship and liking that has to walk. Many people make the mistake of thinking that friendship and liking are the same thing. They’re not. People like Barack Obama, are the friends with them? Nope. People like them because of their charisma.

Friendship can be dangerous

You must maintain your power and authority with your charisma, otherwise you will just become a nice friend or an agreeable coworker. That’s not what you’re after.

You are a leader. You must have and keep your authority. Likable doesn’t always mean charismatic. Charismatic is a constant balance of liking and power. Sorry, but you can’t be buddies. That’s not leadership.

You have to make friends with your equals and other leaders, and not with your team or your followers. That last line is so important I want to repeat it again: you need to make friends with other leaders and not those you lead.

You should always be approachable but not attainable. There should be a bit of suspense and mystery about you. You get that through strategic communication:

Say the right things but never say to much. Don’t engage in too much small talk. Get personal but don’t get too personal. Do way, way, more listening than talking when it comes to idle office chit-chat. Or better yet, step away from it. Don’t linger around gossip long. Politely step away from trivial matters. Do it with a smile, never judging.

That is the balance maintained by a truly charismatic leader.

You now have a good understanding of what a charismatic leader is and what their key behaviors are. The problem is, it’s still not always clear where to start. What are the actual things you can do to build your charisma and leadership skills?

4 simple steps to start becoming a charismatic leader

I have four simple habits that you can start developing right now:

1. Speak with purpose

There is a famous quote that goes like this:

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“A wise man speaks because he has something to say. A fool speaks because he has to say something.”

Think before you speak. Don’t be vague. Be intentional about your communication. For example, don’t enter a meeting and ask:

“How’s it going guys? Thanks for coming. What do you guys think about the new website? Did you see the colors?”

Know your objective. Have the meeting planned. Ask a question that pulls the team in the direction of your objective:

“Who has seen the new website? Did you find the bright blue distracting? What other colors have you tried? Please show the team.”

Everything you say works for you or against you. There is no neutral ground in speech.

Get in the habit of thinking first and speaking with clarity and meaning.

2. Gauge the situation

The first thing you need to do is pay attention. Does your team look interested? Is there something bigger happening that is making them restless? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen leaders failing to lead simply because they didn’t pay attention.

Gauge your audience. This applies to a one-on-one conversation or a big meeting. The principal idea is the same for both. Watch people’s body language and look at their expressions. If they look bored or lost, you need to change something. Make them stand up, bring them up to the front and ask them to speak about what is on their mind. Ask people to take a 5 minute break. Do something to make a change when you are losing them.

Always address the elephant in the room. Sometimes there is bigger news that takes the spotlight. Even if you have a big idea that you are excited talk about, if your listeners aren’t present, then you’ll waste your time. I know it can be disappointing on your end, but you are a leader and this is about your team. You need to know when they have other needs that you need to address first. You must make sure they are in the mental state that is ready for your message.

For example, I remember a team meeting that happened the day after a layoff. Our manager didn’t even mention it. He carried on like nothing had happened. What did he say in that meeting? I have no idea, neither does anybody else. We were so worried about the layoff the previous day that we weren’t in a mental state to listen to him. Had he first addressed where we were – thinking about the layoff – he could have brought us around and held a productive meeting. He didn’t do that. He didn’t lead.

Know when to stop what you’re doing and address the big event, even if it’s awkward, it usually is. Embrace the awkward.

Get in the habit of addressing the elephant in the room because it will get people engaged in what you have to say.

3. Make time for people

As a leader, you are there for your people, not for yourself. Make people feel like they can stop by for a minute without feeling guilty or awkward. Never act like you’re “too big for the little people.” The little people are the reason you are there.

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People shouldn’t be scared to disturb you. Some leaders or managers create a vibe of “Don’t disturb me. I’m too important.”

I worked for a guy like this. He would never have time for you. When he gave you the “privilege” of speaking with him, he was aloof and pretended you were disturbing him. Sometimes he would look away and scroll up and down in his email inbox, looking at messages that he already read for no reason other than to not give you his full attention. It was a stupid power play that didn’t work. He didn’t even know he had the reputation of being the office jerk who nobody wanted to work with. He was blinded by his own ego.

As a charismatic leader, you need to set a welcoming vibe. Make people feel comfortable approaching you with questions. How do you do this?

Keep your office door open. I realize that you may need to close it from time to time, but try to keep it open more than you keep it closed. If it’s closed more than a few hours a day, you need to change something.

Pay attention to how you react when people walk in. Avoid closed, pushing body language. Don’t fold your arms when they walk in. Don’t lean away. Don’t look at your computer or phone. Look a them, lean forward, welcome them in. And most importantly, smile and make eye contact.

Get in the habit of making people feel welcome.

4. Bookmark this page and read it again every month

I’ve packed a lot in here. More than just what I’ve outlined in these four steps. Each time you read it, you’ll find something you missed, forgot, or didn’t pick up on. Leadership is deep and complex. It’s a skill like learning to play a musical instrument — it takes time and practice, and you’ll need a lot of repetition before you get everything down.

Come back and read again.

Be the charismatic leader people look up to

By now you’ve realized that charismatic leadership is a powerful way to lead your team and employees. When you get the balance right, you’ll find that people pay more attention to you. You’ll find that you get more respect. Your team will be more productive. You won’t need to micromanage people. They’ll trust you more and in turn you’ll have more trust in them.

It’s a win-win leadership style when you care about people and maintain that balance of authority of liking.

Follow this guide to becoming a charismatic leader and you’ll become the leader they look up to.

Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

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Miles Whitney

Helping you overcome life's little crises - one little blog at a time.

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Published on March 19, 2019

How Your Attitude Determines Your Success

How Your Attitude Determines Your Success


Do you remember the last time you faced a major setback–when you felt so low, that nothing seemed to make you happy? No matter how hard you tried, you just felt like the world was against you. Perhaps it was a bad relationship, or the loss of a loved one… maybe something bad happened at work? Whatever it may be, could you recall how your attitude was towards that situation?

Often when we’re caught in an unhappy situation, we feel limited and sometimes trapped. We want to get out of it as quickly as we can, but it’s never quite that simple.

Unfortunately, some people can remain in that terrible situation for weeks, months or even years; while others may come out strong and ready to start over–or continue from where they left off–fairly quickly.

So what sets these two groups apart?

The answer is their attitude.

Attitude is everything when it comes to achieving a goal, and tackling a setback or problem. 

When you’re able to have a positive mindset, you’ll be able to break free of your limitations that are holding you back.

A positive attitude also goes a long way in ensuring you come out victorious from whatever limitations that were holding you back before. It transforms not just your mental state, but your physical and emotional well being. It is the key to lasting total transformation.

Positive Attitude Brings About Positive Health 

When you’re stuck in a rut, often the first thoughts that run through your head are negative, thus your outlook likely becomes pessimistic. But, if you can transform those thoughts into more positive ones, then you’re on your way to talking yourself out of that rut, which allows you to move forward.

Of course, positive thinking doesn’t mean ignoring all the bad or unpleasant feelings altogether. It just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way–instead of taking everything as a victim to negative circumstances, you see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Be aware of self talk!

These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self talk comes from logic and reason, while other self talk may arise from misconceptions that you create. Others could come from external sources such as negative people around you, or messages from the media.

The key is to surround yourself with positive influences that can help turn those negative thoughts into positive, more productive actions.You’ll not only feel better about the situation, but in the long run, positive thinking can lower your levels of distress and depression and give you better coping skills during hardships.

Researchers studying the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health have also found that positive thinking may provide increased life span, better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and even greater resistance to the common cold!

It’s unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience these health benefits, but one theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body.

It’s also thought that positive and optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles — they get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet, and don’t smoke or drink alcohol in excess.

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Suffering is Inevitable, So It’s Best to Accept It 

Now, one thing that everyone goes through at some point, is suffering. It’s a harsh reality, yet you can’t actually avoid it. We experience suffering as the result of unhappiness, fear, anger, loss or frustration. In fact, it would be hard to even imagine the feeling of happiness if we never experienced suffering! How would we ever compare it?

So instead of wallowing in sorrow about the suffering you have endured, take the suffering as an opportunity for change. Did you get laid off from your job? Perhaps this would be a good time to re-assess your career goals.

Rather than feeling negative and stuck, use your time and energy to find opportunities which will put you ahead. With the right attitude, anything can seem possible.

This may sound crazy, but suffering is the secret to being successful! 

Here’s what I mean. It’s impossible to think of new ideas or understand new experiences without stepping outside of your comfort zone. Anyone who has met great successes has also faced many failures, as nobody wins on every try.

To propel you toward success, find a way to track your progress and to set and celebrate small benchmarks. It may be helpful to conduct a weekly review to assess where you are and acknowledge all of the small wins of the week. Every accomplishment, no matter how small, is an achievement; so, be sure to take note of them.

Tracking your progress is also a great way to find and mitigate triggers and hindrances that impede your progress. The point is, you’re making progress; even if it feels like suffering, you can see that it’s leading you to joy.

Remember, don’t compare yourself to others. Only compare yourself to who you were yesterday. Each step you make towards progress is making you a better version of you.

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Gratitude Goes a Long Way in Shaping Attitude 

Now, this may seem difficult to do when you’re already feeling down, but having gratitude is a very useful when you’re trying to navigate your way out of a setback. Being grateful for existing accomplishments and the supports in your life will help you see them more clearly, build your own confidence, and give you a better overall outlook on what your limitations really are and what you have to do to overcome them.

With a grateful attitude, you limit the damage of negative influences, and strengthen the impact of positive ones.

Being grateful, even during the toughest of times, steers your attitude towards a more positive one, allowing you to get back on your feet much more quickly. Many studies done on gratitude have shown positive results for people who practice regularly, such as improvement in relationships and in mental health. There’s even studies that show higher motivation in work settings due to a simple ‘thank you’ from managers to their subordinates.

Believe in Yourself and Your Truth

This is often easier said than done, but is also the most empowering truth to overcoming your setbacks and limitations in life.

Many people find it hard to keep a positive attitude during tough times because they lack inner confidence. They doubt their abilities because of the ‘failure’ that they’re experiencing, and don’t think that they can rise above again.

But, confidence doesn’t just come from talent, luck or easy opportunity. Confidence comes from overcoming difficulties and facing your fears head on. 

Confidence is a result of getting out of your comfort zone. The more you do this, the more confident you’ll be, and the more positive your attitude will be. Confidence will help you see your goals more clearly, find your strengths within, reach your goals and overcome your limitations much more quickly.

Here’s a quick story about my own struggles helping me get ahead:

When I first started Lifehack, it took a long time to gain a solid readership. Just getting 100 visitors was a challenge and took a good bit of time. I had great ambitions for this site, yet it seemed like I was doomed to fail. I received plenty of criticism, too. Some people thought that the world didn’t need yet another self help site, others offered the opinion that there was something wrong with the idea itself and I was making a mistake.

It was hard for me not to listen to them and, at some times, agree. But, persistence is key, and in the end I chose to believe in my truth.

I worked tirelessly changing the site layout, restructuring articles, and making the site more user friendly. Slowly, I expanded to a team with the hiring of some extremely dynamic and talented people. With each determined effort, the site grew in popularity, and a few years later, we had influenced millions–and continue to do so.

Pushing myself out of my comfort zone and facing every challenge head on were the greatest contributing factors to increasing my confidence. So welcome the challenges that come; don’t avoid them, as they’re all opportunities in disguise to feed your growth.

Your Attitude Sets the Tone for Success 

Do you see the importance of having a positive attitude? It is so much more than a mindset or state of mind. Your attitude sets the tone for every action and behavior that follows after, and that will determine how long it takes for you to break free from your current circumstance.

So if you’re currently in an unhappy situation, why not give it a try and look at things from a more positive outlook? As mentioned, not only does having a positive attitude bring about favorable outcomes, it also brings about positive health in the long run.

Embracing hardship as it is, and using it as a learning experience to grow, will also make you stronger. And, whether you’re going through good or bad times, practicing gratitude will no doubt help to limit the damage of negative influences, and strengthen the impact of positive ones.

Lastly, in any circumstance, you are your greatest barrier to success, which is why it’s important to always believe in yourself!

You will always have the power to be in control of your situation because your attitude is determined by you. So start harnessing all that positive thinking to turn those limitations into strengths!

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Featured photo credit: Photo by Jonathan Francisca on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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