While we could debate endlessly on what specific traits make a true leader, one thing that all great leaders exhibit is charisma. Charisma is that intangible quality in a leader that just attracts people to them and has them following them instantly. While some people are graced with a natural charisma, others are not so blessed. Here are my Top 5 Tips for Developing Your own Charisma:
#5. Open People to the Power of Persuasion. In other words, you need to “disarm to charm”. Take time to examine how you are perceived. As a leader, try to match your subordinates expectations of you as a leader. This attentiveness and intrigue often times allows people to let down their guard and be open and receptive to your suggestions and requests.
#4. Always Act Interested in Others. Always try to make others feel as though they are the most important person in the room. When you act genuinely interested in what other people are saying, they will return the favor. This is as easy as keeping good steady eye contact with the person, display signs that you are listening (i.e. nodding your head or responding with an “I see” or “uh-huh”), make sure that the other person is the one doing the talking, ask follow-up questions, use that person’s name, put down the email or cell phone.
#3. Create a Little Mystery. Do you remember LT Speirs from Band of Brothers? Remember how the Soldiers used to talk amongst themselves about whether he had killed the Germans right after offering them a cigarette? How about how the Soldiers in Saving Private Ryan had a pool trying to get CPT Miller to tell them about what he did in the civilian world. Well, charisma often requires a little mystery. If you, as a leader, are an open book you leave out the ability of your followers to think that you are different, as if you had some deeper insight to a world inaccessible to your average Soldier. Now, I am not saying to go shoot some POWs, but a little mystery will leave others intrigued about you and desiring to find that out.
#2. Imitate Others. It has always been said that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and this is just as true when developing your charisma. Now, I am not saying to start carrying around revolvers with Ivory handgrips, but subtly imitating another’s body language, speaking style and how they carry themselves you can build a good rapport and trust amongst others. This imitation is not limited to famous leaders either; try to mirror your actions to those you are interacting with. Make sure that you are subtle, for example, if they speak softly try to mirror their tone and energy. Be SUBTLE and try to ensure you are not coming off as mocking the other person.
#1. Compliment Others, Smile and Be Humorous. Very difficult to do as an Army leader. Most of us walk around with our chests out, tight jaw and a stick up our rear ends. But a smile brings people in like a tractor beam. A true leader is always looking for opportunities to compliment his Soldiers and dreads the moments he needs to criticize them. Finally, nothing lightens the mood like a leader with a sense of humor. Life is hard enough as it is; no reason to be upset and irritable all the time. Admit your mistakes, fess up to your blunders and don’t take yourself too seriously!
FINAL THOUGHTS: This article is all about developing yourself as a leader. Sure, there is lots out there in books, websites and other resources with techniques and expertise, etc. But, we have all be under leaders who we just naturally followed and could never really put a finger on why. We should strive to develop that same desire in others. Charisma is the way to start! What are your thoughts? What traits have you experienced that make up a leader’s charisma? Leave your comments and questions below.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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4 thoughts on “Top 5 Tips for Developing Charisma”
Very good points, Larry. I will agree that like leadership, charisma is a natural trait and can’t necessarily be “learned”. But there are things that we can do to emulate those who are more charismatic than we are to increase our own “perceived” charisma. I agree as well, saying a persons name is very important. Like Dale Carnegie said, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language”.
I’ve practiced using a person’s name at least twice in conversation. Not only does it cause an instant rapport but it helps me remember the name! Making a conscious effort to sometimes be almost completely silent during an exchange will often cause others to open up and regard you as a “good listener,” even if you only try the exercise a few times. Some people are born with charismatic traits. Most of us are able to create a bit of it, albeit artificially.
Saying a person’s name during a conversation is one of the best things you can do. Try to say their name whenever possible. They will appreciate it and show you instant respect, especially since so few people listen.