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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.

Charismatic Leadership: The Definitive Guide to Influence People

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Last Updated on March 15, 2019

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

What Makes a Leader Fail?

A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

What Is Effective Leadership?

Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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“… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

1. Courage

The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

4. Likability

Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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5. Vulnerability

Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

6. Authenticity

Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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“A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

9. A Passion for Continual Learning

Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

The Bottom Line

No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

More Resources About Effective Leadership

Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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