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Published on September 15, 2020

6 Characteristics of an Effective Leadership

6 Characteristics of an Effective Leadership

We all know a person with effective leadership skills when we see one. They seem to radiate a certain magnetism that turns heads when they speak. They know how to command attention with not just their words but the cadence of their voice and even their body language. From celebrities to industrial and world leaders, charismatic people can draw anyone in.

For a long time, conventional wisdom held onto the belief that you were either born with charisma or you weren’t. Psychologists believe that charisma is a mix of nature and nurture.[1] Yes, some people are simply hardwired with a more charismatic personality than others. The good news, though, is that you can learn to be more charismatic and develop such qualities if you want to become a leader.

Before we jump into those qualities, it would probably help to define what exactly charisma is.

What Is Charisma?

The word means “divine gift” in Greek. Charisma is steeped in a certain amount of mystery, but to really boil it down, Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “a personal magic of leadership arousing special popular loyalty or enthusiasm for a public figure.”[2] (Admittedly, that doesn’t sound like something that can be learned, but let’s hold out hope.)

It’s easy to see how “a personal magic of leadership” could be so appealing for a leader and give them a cutting edge over the competition. Having that certain “It” factor might come more innately for some than others, but everyone with effective leadership skills have at least some of it, even if they learned it along the way.

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Here are the qualities of a charismatic leader and why they’re so beneficial.

1. Adaptable

A psychology professor from the University of Queensland in Australia, William von Hippel, believes that adaptability is the number one trait that all effective leaders possess.[3] “There are clearly many qualities that enable people to be socially successful, but the fact that what works in one situation often does not work in another suggests that behavioral flexibility may be the single most important attribute for social functioning,” said von Hippel.

There’s nothing charismatic about sulking when plans don’t work out exactly as expected. Instead, charismatic leaders find a way to make lemonade with the lemons they’ve been given. This adaptability was further broken down by von Hippel into several offshoots:

  • Being quick-witted
  • Knowing how to handle subtle changes
  • Staying cool amid distraction

According to von Hippel, charismatic people may not always know the right answer to a tough question, but they have the ability to come up with alternative answers and choose what works best for the situation. They’re also in tune with what’s going on around them and can quickly modify their behavior to handle any conflicts. Among all of this, charismatic leaders are cool as cucumbers — or at least project that confidence — regardless of whatever distractions there may be.

Being adaptable allows them to close business deals and push ahead, even when things don’t go according to plan.

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2. Confident

Trust is one of the most important things for leaders to establish with their teams. When a leader is confident and not afraid to take a bold stance, it allows others to relax a little bit and stand behind that leader because they trust them. Charismatic leaders exude confidence almost without falter.

When it’s a celebrity like Bono or Lady Gaga, they call this confidence swagger as it allows them to strut across the stage like they haven’t got a sliver of self-doubt in them. Their confidence can be felt throughout an entire arena. Showing confidence isn’t always easy, but it can certainly be learned and is paramount for success. Confident leaders will always be the ones who see the glass half-full, and this sort of optimism can be a powerful motivating tool for those they lead.

3. Visionary

Charismatic leaders may respect the past, but they’re not going to be stuck in it. They have a mindset for innovation and are almost always looking for ways to improve things. It’s this sort of forward-thinking that made somebody like Martin Luther King Jr. such a charismatic leader. He had a clear vision that he was passionate about and knew how to communicate it (more on that in a second).

Charismatic leaders have clearly defined goals that they want to achieve. Combined with confidence, that can be incredibly intoxicating to other people. Next to adaptability, this may be the second most important quality of a charismatic leader, and how they go about sharing their vision often results in a strong emotional response from the listeners.

4. Determined

If the vision is the far off summit on the horizon, determination is the drive that keeps charismatic leaders pushing forward. If that vision is ever going to be achieved, then milestones will have to be accomplished along the way. Take Amazon’s vision of having a zero carbon footprint by 2040, for example.[4] In order to make that happen, Jeff Bezos and his team need unwavering determination and hit certain goals at certain points in this timeline.

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Determined leaders don’t give up when they hit roadblocks. Instead, they put their head down, adapt, and push forward. This drive to keep pushing ahead can trickle down and motivate their subordinates to work harder at accomplishing whatever the collective goal may be.

Check out this article about building strong thinking skills: How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership.

5. Great Communicator

There’s a reason why crowds will show up in droves to hear a politician speak: the most captivating politicians know how to communicate their vision effectively and clearly. Those with an especially charismatic personality often have strong beliefs and can be incredibly persuasive with both their words and body language. Simply put, they’re good storytellers.

Charismatic leaders draw listeners in with good posture, eye contact, and hand gestures to help connect their words to the audience. They articulate their words to help convey their vision and deliver their message with confidence, whether they’re speaking to an individual or an audience of 10,000 people.

Clear communication is key for the formulation of new goals and in gaining the trust of the people around them.[5]

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6. Creative

The economy is changing faster than ever, and you don’t have to look very far to realize how creativity and adaptability will drive the successes of tomorrow. So, what does it have to do with charisma?

Well, charismatic people tend to think outside the box and look for new ways of doing things. This, of course, ties into having a passion and vision. Not only do charismatic thinkers tend to be creative people, but they also challenge the status quo and take risks to turn those visions into reality. Aside from thinking outside the box, the best managers with effective leadership skills encourage others to tap into their own creativity and improve how they approach a situation.[6]

A charismatic leader rises to meet the challenges they face and view problems as opportunities for innovation. To put into perspective just how important this is, a global survey of more than 1,500 CEOs from 60 countries found that creativity was the most sought-after attribute in a leader.[7] When leaders show that their creative spirit, they come across as incredibly charismatic and inspire others to follow that creative lead as well.

Final Thoughts

The most charismatic leaders don’t just have a vision and know how to effectively communicate it — they know how to adapt to the sudden changes thrown their way and still be persuasive and motivating. The truth is, some people may be born with a little more natural charisma than others. Make no mistake about it, though, the traits of a charismatic leader can all be learned and developed.

More on Becoming an Effective Leader

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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Jeremy Diamond

Jeremy Diamond is a lawyer and entrepreneur. He is the Senior Partner of Diamond and Diamond Lawyers, a national law firm based in Canada

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed, and exhausted. Therefore, if you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, it’s time to do something about it.

Here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm, leaving you calmer, in control, and a lot less stressed at work.

1. Write Everything Down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when work feels overwhelming is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s occupying your thoughts[1].

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind, write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind.”

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will help you stop feeling overwhelmed at work. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have emptied your head, go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. You can learn how to create a more meaningful to-do list here.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago to help when work feels overwhelming. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and we humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take[2]:

When feeling overwhelmed at work, use Parkinson's Law.

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad. It’s more wishful thinking than bad judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage when we’re feeling overwhelmed at work. If you have estimated that to write five important emails will take ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is that you put yourself under a little time pressure, and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time, so it plays tricks on us, and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our team members to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening, and we get more focused and more work done. This will help when work feels overwhelming.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos to avoid getting overwhelmed at work. Schedule time for each task, especially high priority tasks, while also grouping together similar tasks. This will help relieve stress and anxiety in your daily work life.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done, and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer, and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one[3]. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend, or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss or a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away and will only make you feel more overwhelmed at work. You need to make a decision to deal with it, and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved.

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed, and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend about the problem.

    He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem, and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I pay a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first was: don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second: there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we are feeling overwhelmed at work (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

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    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

    It also means that, rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible, and you can make decisions about what to do about them.

    Often, it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be that you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    When work feels overwhelming, it’s not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work. It can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    It’s easy to feel like you have too much on your plate, but there are things you do to make it more manageable. 

    Make a decision, even if it’s just talking to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution.

    When you follow these strategies, you can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Josefa nDiaz via unsplash.com

    Reference

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