Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Techniques for Developing Charisma

Today we're going to take a look at eight ways that you can develop charisma. Charismatic leaders maximize the relationship between themselves, group members (followers), and other stakeholders. They increase their referent power (the ability to influence others because one is well liked) and expert power (the ability to influence others because of specialized skills or knowledge).

How, you might ask, do they increase these measures of power? By painting a vivid picture or vision for others, being dramatic and unique, being a good storyteller, and being an affable "character." Charismatic leaders are especially effective at what they do, and communicate using metaphors and analogies to inspire others. They also know their audiences and tailor their messages accordingly. After all, leading a pack of girl scouts takes different communication tactics than leading a squad of marines!

Undoubtedly, some are born more naturally charismatic than others. Yet there are ways to develop charisma:*

1. Create vision for others. Paint a picture of where you are all going, and how great it will be to get there. Attract others to your vision by describing it in ways that are meaningful to them.

2. Be enthusiastic, optimistic, and energetic. Note: this does not mean be fake and inauthentic. Cultivate your real enthusiasm and share it with others.

3. Be persistent. Don't take no for an answer unless you really have no other option. What does this mean? Use energetic good-natured stubborness to push until you can't push anymore. Then know when to change your strategy.

4. Remember people's names. Everyone's loves hearing their own name. Of course you can use tricks and techniques to remember names, but the good old fashioned (and best) way to learn people's names is to actually get to know them and care about them on a personal level.

5. Develop synchrony with others. This has to do with connecting well- "clicking" with others. Search the internet for an emotional intelligence self-test and find ways to develop your EI (emotional intelligence).

6. Develop a personal brand, including making an impressive appearance. Be bold (but not ridiculous) and let your personality out a little bit. As long as you have the skills and knowledge to back you up (and you are tactful - see #5 above), a little flair and confidence can go a long way.

7. Be candid. As long as you are adept at delivering difficult news, speak your mind and communicate directly. You don't want to be abrasive, but simple effective communication is an asset for a leader. Don't beat around the bush- get to the point while still being respectful and polite.

8. Don't be afraid to be tough and aggressive when needed. Although this can isolate you from some people, if your assertiveness is warranted it can gain you a lot of respect from your followers. For example, think of a bartender. While it pays to be a nice guy and treat everyone well to get good tips, the best bartenders know when to lay down the law and get tough with unruly patrons. Kicking out someone who is harassing others at the bar will win lots of goodwill (and tips!) from all the remaining good customers.

*List adapted from DuBrin's textbook Principles of Leadership

(For those of you paying especially close attention, you may notice that this post also appears on Boston University's Leadership Blog. Well, there's a good reason for that- I write those posts as well, and every so often feel a post needs to be in both places.)