Employees like to be led by charismatic executives. Because they are authentic. Because they inspire. Because they electrify. It has been said that one either naturally has charisma or not. Oops! Error! Charisma can actually be thoroughly learned and used wisely. Our tips will tell you just how to do it.
Even if you can no longer recall them, all of your first impressions have made quite the impact. This is because our brains love easy and fast information. We can identify people with pronounced charisma at first sight. Organizational psychologist John Antonakis has shown in countless studies that even children can recognize charisma in others by recognizing natural leaders.1 Charisma is a key skill for every leader, because when one is charismatic they can lead differently – individually and effectively at the same time. And the best news of all: you too can learn to be a charismatic leader!
What is charisma based on?
In sociology, charisma is defined as “a special form of authority based on personal magnetism”. Naturally, many managers would like to exhibit this kind of strength. According to the Munich career consultant, Karin Tegtmeier, charisma is based above all on the combining of the following three components:
- Inner conviction and intention
- The ability to relate to other people and understand their desires, feelings and needs
“When these three components come together in one person, not only do employees immediately gain confidence in the person. It is not uncommon even for a company’s stock prices to react positively when a charismatic leader is appointed as CEO. ”
Can anyone be charismatic?
In principle, yes. The prerequisites for learning charisma are especially pronounced in those people who master the following things:
- They know what they want
- They listen well to others
- They can analyze the overall situation well
This then results in meaningful action for charismatic people. If charisma is lacking in a person, then they often try to cover up this void either with missionary zeal, egomania or arbitrariness in their leadership.
How to learn charisma
Learning charisma is a process of personal development. Certain techniques can support this but not replace it. At the beginning there is always the confrontation with one’s own intentions: What do I want to achieve? What do I stand for? Every manager is immediately put to the test by their employees, and has to answer these questions, whether they like it or not. Only those who know (or find) the answers to these questions can truly convince others.
Expert Tegtmeier points to an underrated side of charisma: listening. “You need to know and understand the needs and feelings of your employees. Only then can you express it – and put it in words that will be heard. You should put yourself in the other’s shoes and talk to them from this perspective. This ’empathetic dialogue’ demonstrably contributes positively to the working atmosphere.”
Choosing the right words
Choose words that are understood and that reflect your intent – in tone, style, facial expressions and gestures. A classic course or training exercise on presenting oneself can open your eyes to how you are perceived from the outside.
Let your actions follow your words (walk the talk)! Are your intentions in line with your lifestyle (and vice versa), and do they therefore portray you as a credible person? Are your leadership actions consistent with your stated intentions, and do they therefore portray you as a credible leader?
Take on tasks, but also delegate
This is the most sensitive topic of charisma, says career coach Karin Tegtmeier: “Only those who properly delegate and show appreciation for the work of others will have success as managers. You cannot achieve everything on your own. Sharing tasks and being open to other’s (especially subordinates) ideas for change is one of the most difficult dynamics of leadership.”
Karin Tegtmeiers 10 questions to prepare for your charismatic performance
- Clarify your intentions! What do you stand for?
- What makes you credible? What legitimizes you?
- What do you know about the feelings, reservations and the needs of your listeners?
- What questions do you ask?
- How do you create a feeling of camaraderie?
- In which larger context do you state your intentions?
- Which keywords do you absolutely want to use?
- Which tone should your input have? Which clothes and gestures support that tone?
- What concrete actions do you propose?
- Record yourself answering these questions for 90 seconds. Do your key words, tone and gestures agree with your intentions? If not, continue refining!
About the author
Jörg Peter Urbach is the author, editor and blogger of Sprachleidenschaft. He has been writing for more than 25 years, for print and online. Concepts. Stories. Journal articles. After studying musicology and German language and literature, Jörg Peter worked as an editorial manager in the classical music business. As long-time chief editor of the portal wissen.de, he knows how to inspire readers with clever topics.
If the native Kieler is not writing, he is walking through the Alps. Or listening to the opera. With mindfulness.