It turns out that yes, I can! Charisma is not necessarily a superpower we’re born with; it can be learned. Even people like myself, who would describe themselves as reserved, can be charismatic. In fact, the two qualities compliment each other very well. Charismatic people inspire and motivate, and they are often good listeners. They project great power with few words. So, even with a quiet or modest personality, I can still shine and inspire others.
As a leader, it’s especially important for me to develop charisma. It can help me to influence people in a positive sense — indeed, leadership is little else. My aim is to inspire and motivate my team to realize our Vision and achieve our shared goals.
What can I do to become more charismatic?
I strengthen my charisma – just as with any other learnable skill – by making adjustments in my behavior, and with lots of practice.
Communication plays an essential role in this. To inspire and motivate, I use positive language. Instead of requests like “you must” or the vague “you should”, I give my counterpart the opportunity to “can” and “may”. I also try to avoid using the word “but”, since it completely negates everything that came before it: “Great result, but next time you should do XY”. I reformulate with “and”, or even better, I avoid “but” entirely: “Super result. If you do XY more next time, it will be even better”.
Many successful leaders also use the power of positive language to describe their Vision. They talk about what they want to achieve and what the world will be like. They describe a specific path in a few simple and positive words. How will the world have been improved by us achieving our Vision together in the coming years?
The power of psychology
Charismatic people are also good at building rapport. In psychological terms, this is an empathic connection or positive relationship between people. A simple smile can work wonders. My mood as a leader and role model will automatically transfer to the people around me. With a smile, I can transmit positive energy into every meeting, every conversation and every video message. The atmosphere is immediately transformed. The same goes for being open-minded and showing genuine interest in my counterpart. The more I listen, the more I notice the little details that people tell me. I follow up and respond to their situation. I pay attention to them.
Body language can also have a strong impact. I adapt to the body language of the person I’m talking to, for example, by choosing similar gestures and facial expressions. What I don’t do is plain imitation. It’s more about showing understanding through body language. When there is “chemistry” between people, I often observe them adopting a similar posture. It says, “yes, I totally agree with you.” This technique can be used consciously to build rapport. In general, the more flexible one is the leader. This means consciously controlling things by adapting to the behavior, preferences and personalities of my team members. This emulation also helps me to listen to my colleagues and get to know them better by putting myself in their shoes and walking their walk. And moreover, it helps me be more aware of myself: Who am I? What do I want to achieve? What do I stand for? How do I behave? Self-awareness is an integral part of charisma.
Charismatic = manipulative?
Now I ask myself the following question: Isn’t that manipulative? After all, villains are often charismatic manipulators — that’s what makes them so dangerous. I find the risk of going over to the dark side dissipates if I stick to one simple rule: I don’t make anbody do anything they don’t want to do. As a leader, I help people realize their own goals and support them in doing what they want to do or achieve anyway — they simply haven’t done it yet. My intention always remains positive and I share it openly. No hidden agenda.
“I’m just not a charismatic type,” then, is a limiting belief, a harmful conviction that merely serves to hold me back from being charismatic.
One last thing: in learning the art of charisma, I needn’t fear being “inauthentic” or forcing myself to appear as something I’m not. As long as I remain true to my own Values, Vision and Purpose, I will automatically stay in tune with my authentic self. So being charismatic is a choice I have available to me, with no loss or compromise of who I truly am.
Photo by M ACCELERATOR on Unsplash