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3 Ways to Become a More Charismatic Leader

employee engagement employee listening people manager strategy people ops problems
Three Ways to Become a More Charismatic Leader

Welcome to People Ops Problems with LeAnne Lagasse, a bi-weekly video series designed to help Business and People/Culture Leaders improve employee engagement, retention, and communication with their employees. Sign up now to get it in your inbox.

We all know them. Individuals who have a magnetic appeal and can’t help but attract others to themselves. They inspire people and move others to action. They are confident and warm. They are CHARISMATIC.

But what actually is charisma and is it even possible to learn and grow in this area if you weren’t born with it? Charisma comes from the Greek word “charis”, meaning gift or grace. People who are naturally gifted with charisma are competent and confident, and they treat others with warmth and grace. People with charisma use effective leadership and phenomenal communication to connect with others. While some people are gifted with those skills, don’t be discouraged if charisma doesn’t come naturally to you.

You don’t have to be a charismatic person to be an effective leader, but there are three simple areas of practice to help you grow in perceptions of charisma. 

  • Own who you are and who you aren’t. Start by getting acquainted with who you are and what you do well. Then, look for organic opportunities to talk openly about your strengths and your weaknesses.
    • What strengths come naturally to me? 
    • In which areas do you get the most positive feedback or compliments?
    • Which parts of my job are the most difficult for me? 
    • Where do I struggle to get the relational outcomes I want?
  • Be curious about other people. To win others and have them find you interesting, you have to be interested in them first. 
    • Ask them questions about themselves. Not boring close-ended questions, ask quirky questions that elicit self-disclosure, like what process they use to choose their next tv show or movie. When you make someone excited, they will find you more favorable. 
    • Don’t forget to actually listen to them when they answer. Paraphrase what you heard and use that as an opportunity to elicit even more self disclosure and breed reciprocity. 
  • Use nonverbally immediate behaviors. Nonverbally immediate behaviors are the ensemble of nonverbal communicative behaviors that reflect psychological availability, communicate affiliation and preference, and result in perceived interpersonal closeness. Sounds complicated, but in simple terms, it’s just the nonverbal ways that we show that we are available to others. 
    • Purposeful and direct eye contact – don’t be creepy!
    • Open and expansive gesturing – no crossed arms!
    • Relaxed and strong posture – not too rigid, not too slumped!
    • Enthusiastic and energetic vocalics – no monotone speaking voice!

While it is possible to grow in charisma, it isn’t mandatory. Leaders can get to the same outcomes using different methods. It’s always a great idea to lean most heavily on your natural talents, while simultaneously trying to improve areas of struggle. If charisma is an area you’d like to work on, don’t try to change all of who you are at once, just work on one area at a time. Vocalics is the easiest one to grow in quickly, so if you don’t know where to start, try to work on that one first before moving on to the others.

Hey, thanks for being here and for watching/reading. My goal is to consistently create content that's engaging, applicable and inspires you to continue learning and growing as a leader. If you have ideas for future content or any questions at all, please shoot me an email at: [email protected].

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