Charisma comes from the Greek word, kharisma, and anciently it referred to divinely conferred power or talent.

Starting in the 1950s the term has gained popularity, perhaps more in the personal success world than the corporate world. I think it is time to make the term part of a dynamic company or corporate leader’s portfolio of skills and we should use the meaning that has morphed over the years to refer personality charisma, or the elusive quality that makes others admire you and want to follow you. To be clear, I am not referring to the charisma of movie stars such as the cultural icon of the 20th century, Marilyn Monroe.

In the context of Discretionary Effort Leadership, charisma means exercising a compelling persona that inspires others to follow you and your vision for company success. It means being the leader people want to follow, not the leader people have to follow because of your place on an organizational chart.[tweetthis]Be the #leader people WANT to follow, not HAVE to follow ~ Karla Brandau[/tweetthis]

Here are five tips to give you more personality pizzazz or develop the leadership charisma that gives you influence with employees:

  • Demonstrate confidence, not arrogance. The arrogant person believes they are better than they really are or on the flip side, they feign arrogance to cover up low self-esteem. Confidence is understanding your own abilities and strengths with humility enough recognize and even admit at times your limitations. Confidence means you know what you are good at which indicates you have worked hard to build skills in a variety of areas that give you confidence or the ability to produce results. An arrogant person has to look good at all costs and they will put others down to maintain their self-esteem.  Entirely consumed with themselves, arrogant people are concerned with their appearance, their intelligence, their comments and their ideas, their world view and anything else about them that people could question. In contrast, a confident person can admit they may have made a mistake and can use a healthy dose of self-deprecating humor when the situation calls for it. Confident people have the ability to make you feel good about yourself, not seek to feel good about themselves.The charismatic corporate leader demonstrates confidence, not arrogance.
  • Be optimistic and positive, not the negative person people want to run away from. Being optimistic about solving problems doesn’t mean you are superficial or constantly see pie in the sky and raise false hopes, making people think of you as delusional. Being optimistic and positive means you recognize challenges and problems. It means you are realistic and that you purposely look for workarounds and options to solve problems. You demonstrate you can look for options and go over, through, around, or under to achieve a positive result. You open the eyes of the people you work with to new avenues, possibilities and opportunities.
  • Listen more than you talk. The highest form of respect you can give another person is to listen to them. I mean truly listen with your intellect, your eyes and your heart. This means taking your hands off the keyboard, putting down your cell phone, suspending texting, and looking them straight in the eye. True listening is refraining from interrupting, letting them finish their thought and then asking them questions to clarify, showing an effort to truly understand their position. When you understand their viewpoint, then you can express your opinion and together you can begin the collaboration process of bringing your ideas together for the better good. I remember sitting in a high level meeting where the senior director laid out her plan and asked for input. One woman in the meeting offered her ideas and a strategy that was supportive but a little different than the director’s plan. The second she finished talking, the director said, “Well, we are not going to do it that way.” In my opinion she disrespected her by not even asking questions about implementation or responding with “Those are good ideas. Perhaps we can use them in the future, however, now I would like to pursue my plan as it is.”
  • Offer respect to every individual, not just those above you on the organization chart. Many individuals will treat the CEO with great respect, but the mail clerk, the new hire, or the receptionist, not so much. The truly charismatic leader respects every person knowing that you never know who will surface the next great idea. For instance, a friend in marketing told me of a company in Sweden who contacted his firm asking for help in marketing their new bread line. They were on a very limited budget and the marketing firm was not sure how they could help this company given the small amount of money available. With doubts in their mind, they went to Sweden to meet with what they thought would only be the top leaders. However, this company had a policy of including people from all levels and all departments in their decision making meetings. After a discussion of many ideas, none of which seemed very creative, there was silence in the room. The silence was broken by a woman from the cantina, cafeteria in America, who said, “Put $100.00 bills in random bread sacks.” At first the idea seemed stupid, but the more they thought about it, they decided it just might work. They tried it. It worked and the new bread line was an instant success as thousands of people found a $100.00 bill in their bread sack and immediately told all of their friends to buy the bread.
  • Sound a firm trumpet, not a wishy-washy plan for the future. Paint a vivid picture of your vision for success, expectations and goals, rather than a “we might do this” or “this might work” plan. Part of the process of sounding a firm trumpet is getting ideas from those who work with you, running the initiative by trusted mentors, taking a risk and asking those who may be tough critics of the idea and then formulating your plan. When you have been this thorough in your research, you will be confident that you can sound a sure trumpet. Wishy-washy plans sway in the wind like clothes on a clothes line. They can be influenced and changed by every person who challenges any part of the plan until there is nothing left of the original thought. This does not mean that plans can’t change. They can. Plans seldom roll out exactly as they appear on paper, but a solid plan gives everyone marching orders and then as everyone marches forward, they can give input for flexing and making the plan more successful.

Live these tips and you will put a little pizzazz in your personality. Others will feel your personal power and recognize your exceptional qualities. Colleagues in the company will regard you as a leader, even though it may be a thought leader, and they will listen to you. You will become a charismatic leader.

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