In our series, Raising Up Leaders, we have discussed that 51%+ of any great leader’s job is to develop new leaders. This process of raising up leaders is VITAL to any organization’s long-term success.
In the previous article, we looked at the importance of character as the foundation of all leadership. Character precedes everything else. Without character, you are building on a faulty foundation. Now we’ll focus on charisma.
Finding charismatic potential leaders to develop involves paying attention to how they interact with other people; the traits that make up charisma are positive and appealing to others.
The charismatic person uses his/her skills to influence others. If you can’t relate to people, it is impossible to lead them.
Our models of charismatic people tend to be larger than life public figures, but every person possesses the ability to improve his/her charisma. For some this improvement will come very easy because of their natural wiring. For others, charisma can be improved at a much slower and more intentional pace because of personality traits.
Being confident is to be assured. Confidence allows us to communicate vision one-to-one, in groups and in front of audiences. This ability to communicate confidence is a skill with which many people struggle. A charismatic person aids and enhances the communication process. Charismatic people are confident in a positive way without being boastful or egotistical.
How confident is your potential leader? The Keller Influence Indicator® provides a benchmark measurement of how much confidence aptitude one currently possesses, and how it may be grown.
One thing the post-modern literary critique has taught us is that everyone sees things through a set of lenses. However, how that information is framed and presented IS crucial. The same “bad news” report can bring morale down or be presented in a way that inspires a team with an obstacle to overcome towards victory. When a potential leader becomes aware of the importance of framing, he/she can stop from presenting a “woe is us” response to information.
Observe how potential leaders react to challenges and bad news. Are they able to put it into a positive light? This trait is invaluable as no one wants to follow a “Debby Downer.”
Empathy and Emotional Connection
Bill Clinton famously issued the line, “I feel your pain.” He possessed the ability to identify with people’s suffering, even if he was not suffering in the same way. Whether you disagreed with his policies or not, President Clinton will be remembered as someone who identified with his followers. A great deal of this empathy is to acknowledge the feelings of others as valid.
When looking for potential leaders in whom to invest, check to see if they are steam rolling over people to get the agenda accomplished. Are they dismissive of the concerns and stresses others are undergoing? Are they self-centered? If so, know you will have a challenge on your hands. Much has been written on this subject of emotional intelligence.
Charismatic people are good storytellers who tend to have an engaging manner. They are able to communicate their message with precision and accuracy while involving the human element. They understand how to grasp the moment, such as when to be serious and when a moment needs a humorous breather.
Study your potential leaders, both when they are in one-on-one, small or large group situations. Strong communicators will use relaxed, open body language and good eye contact. They will watch for feedback from their audience and clarify their position accordingly. Coach them before and after communication moments. Consider a discreet videotaping of their communication as a coaching tool.
A leader, by definition, must be assertive. The power of influence is the ability to make people want what you want, or unite them toward a common cause.
If someone you are considering for leadership is highly intelligent and generates great ideas but always gets steam rolled by others (even others with inferior ideas), this is a huge problem. A great idea not implemented is not a solution. You must work with the potential leader to ascertain what lies at the root of his/her fear to be assertive. Is it a fear of rejection? Is it a lack of confidence? Perhaps this potential leader is afraid that being assertive will be offensive, even if he/she realizes the idea is strong. Helping potential leaders “get over themselves” is key to their development.
Assertiveness can be unhealthy. Some people are over-assertive, using this trait to influence for bad causes or self-serving interests. Hitler, after all, was highly charismatic. We don’t want to spend our time developing dark dictators.
The Keller Influence Indicator provides a measure of character, charisma and competence needed for strong influence. Character is critical, and it is followed closely by charisma. Charisma IS easier to teach and shape than character. If you must select between a leader with high character or high charisma, always chose high character first.
While we have natural and learned traits, with consistent coaching, a potential leader’s charisma can be grown. It will require a strong investment of retraining, reminding and modeling, but if he/she possesses solid character and good competence, the investment will be worth it.
Give the Keller Influence Indicator® to potential leaders and discover where they need to grow in terms of character, charisma and competence as they seek to influence others. A sample KII® report is available here. A complimentary trial version of the KII® is available for you and your team to take.
In the next article in this series on Raising Up Leaders, we’ll look at how competence plays a role in the foundation of character and charisma.