Charisma. It’s hard to define, but you know it when you see it. Think of some of the most charismatic leaders you can remember throughout history. Many are probably politicians, successful business owners, religious leaders or activists. They have a combination of personality, power, charm, and many unique skills that make up the whole charismatic persona as a leader. And we’re drawn to them like moths to a flame.
It isn’t a class that’s taught in college, but it’s one of the most important traits you can have as a leader. Some people are born with it, but many are not.
Some charismatic leaders, like Ghandi and Churchill, were just average students in school. Some, like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, prove that even introverts can transform themselves into leaders that people want to follow.
So, what if you aren’t a natural charismatic leader? How can you sharpen your skills and up your game?
- Exude confidence – Being confident means knowing your stuff. If you want people to follow you, you have to really know what you’re talking about. Become an expert in something. And know every single thing you can possibly know about it. If you’re a leader in a company you should know how the entire organization works, from top to bottom. Know as much as you can about every job in the company. Be ultra prepared and confidence will come naturally.
- Be a great listener – Charismatic leaders become that way because they understand people and what makes them tick. They can quickly size people up and adapt to what they need in a compassionate way. Richard Branson said “To be a great leader, you must be a great listener”.
- Be passionate about your vision – Again, think of all of the charismatic leaders you’ve known. What did they all have in common? They had a strong, unwavering vision and they were passionate about it. Being excited about a vision causes others to become excited about it too. Enthusiasm is contagious.
- Be an articulate speaker – Speak clearly and use concise language. Lose the words “like” and “um”. Say what you mean, and mean it from your heart. Charismatic people don’t analyze what they say. It comes from a place of being sure of what they’re doing. Also, adding a little humor goes a long way.
- Be curious – The day you lose your curiosity is the day you lose your zest for living. Being curious about the world around you opens you up to people and gives you something to talk about. The most creative and innovative people are also the most curious and are willing to take creative risks.
- Be positive – This should be common sense, but people are drawn to leaders who are positive. They seem to have an energy that you just want to get next to. You want it to rub off on you. If you aren’t feeling positive, think about something you can feel grateful for. Sometimes that’s enough to turn your mood around. Even faking it will sometimes get you in a better mood.
Charisma is a valuable trait in a leader. There’s a big difference between ordering people around and actually getting them to follow you and look up to you. A charismatic leader is able to command respect because they’ve earned it, not just because they have a title.