What Is Charismatic Leadership And How Can I Achieve It?
Leadership became a hot topic in the 1970s, and both the business world and the academic world have been busy discussing it ever since. We are bombarded from all sides with books, articles, training courses, surveys, conferences. If you do a Google search on “Leadership” today you will get over 500 million results worldwide, and over 16 million for the UK alone. Amazon.co.uk offers close on 19,000 books on the topic.
So, what is the definition of Leadership? There are many! John Adair, one of the world’s leading authorities on leadership and leadership development, has this to say: ‘Leadership, like all personal relations, always has something unknown, something mysterious about it’.
Most people will say that each of the successful leaders they have known behaves in a different way, even in similar situations. There is no rule for how a leader should behave, or for what action he/she should take in any give situation. Different leaders will use different aspects of their leadership qualities, and different aspects of their own personalities, in different circumstances.
Winston Churchill is a classic example: he was acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest leaders during wartime; but in peacetime, his leadership style just did not fit the bill.
John Adair, in his definition, hits on one of the key requirements of a successful leader: something in personal relations that is unknown and mysterious. This is charisma.
Skills, training, experience, behavioural traits, cultural background; all these are important in a leader. But to be truly successful, to arrive at the top level, a leader must be charismatic.
Are you a charismatic leader?
Try asking yourself the following questions:
Do I stand out from the crowd? What makes me unique? Do I inspire and invigorate my team? Do I communicate a vision that can exhilarate my followers? Do I motivate them to share my values?
A manager who can reflect the image of her vision and her values is a charismatic leader that people aspire to work with!
The key to success is finding the perfect balance: a thoroughly professional image and excellent communication skills. The way you act and the way you communicate combine to produce your charismatic professional image as a leader – to your team, to your peers and to everyone you come into contact with.
Live your charisma 24 hours a day. In today’s competitive business environment it is the first impression that will make or break you. You won’t get a second chance! In the boardroom; giving a speech to your shareholders; leading your team through a crisis situation; your charismatic attitude will position you as a true leader in every aspect of your top-level role.
What is charismatic leadership? And does it make you a better leader?
During my career, I have had the privilege of working with some excellent leaders in a variety of business environments and in many different parts of the world.
My fascination for good leadership led me to spend some time studying the different aspects of it. My findings, together with my on-going development as a coach, have helped me to identify three key qualities that all good leaders have:
- they can inspire people with their vision
- they can communicate this vision with clarity
- they get the best out of people
Is this charismatic leadership?
Yes, I believe it is!
And I would also claim that there are skills you can develop as a leader, which will help you towards charismatic leadership.
1. Inspiring your team with your vision
Teams need strong leadership from a leader who is able to project a clear and inspiring vision. When the economic climate is challenging it is even more important to keep your team’s motivation on a high.
Your vision can – must – become a positive, powerful tool for your team. Communicate it with simplicity and clarity.
And with the exhilarating enthusiasm that only true charismatic leadership can engender.
2. Communicating your vision
Your team cannot read your mind or intentions. They listen to the things you say – but remember, they also see the things you do.
We do not only communicate with words. We are always communicating, whether we realise it or not. Your team is watching everything you do: the way you walk into the room; the way you stand or sit; the way you look at them; the way you don’t look at them. Everything movement carries a ‘message’ that people will pick up and respond to.
Around 90% of the messages in face-to-face communication are carried in ways other than words – via our tone of voice, our facial expression, our posture, etc. Inspire your team with every move you make!
3. Getting the best out of your team
Your charismatic leadership has fired up your team. Their motivation is triggered, they are ready to go! Now, how do you get the best out of them?
Know your team! Learn their strengths, their individual areas of competence. Find out the areas they need to improve, and guide and coach them to gain competence and confidence in these areas.
Communicate clearly what you want to achieve and why. Explain what each individual's role is in the big picture. Ownership of his personal role will boost each team member’s sense of responsibility and fire in him a passion to help you achieve your charismatic vision.
As a leader, focus on honing these three skills – inspiring, communicating and knowing your team. You will feel your charismatic leadership taking you to ever greater heights.
Diana Vanbrabant is an Executive Coach and trainer based in Paris. As Managing Director of ETACC: 'The European Training and Coaching Company', Diana works with clients based in Europe, America and the UK. Her high quality training courses include topics such as public speaking, motivational speeches and people management skills – as well as cross-cultural business skills and international leadership skills.
Diana has trained more than 1,500 professionals in 15 different countries worldwide and she has coached over 100 senior managers and directors during executive one-on-one coaching sessions.
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