This week I feel like a big shot Hollywood producer as I write my first blog series. Or to put it another way, a blog and 2 sequels. I’m aiming to reach Godfather II heights of excellence, so do let me know if I’ve managed that or failed woefully!
I’m fascinated by leadership. Who are the good leaders? What makes them good? What traits do they have? I’ve been pondering this for a while, done a little market research and have come up with my own top 3 leadership traits. No doubt, you will have your own views on my choices and I invite you to engage with me through the blog. I haven’t put my choices in any particular order and again, you may chose to rank them differently. My purpose in writing this blog series is to stimulate a lively discussion about some leadership qualities.The trait that I want to look at first is charisma. I love definitions, so I looked up the meaning of the word ‘charisma’. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary it means “a personal magic of leadership arousing special, popular loyalty or enthusiasm for a public figure” or “a special magnetic charm or appeal”. In everyday language, it’s referred to as “the X factor”. I’m sure we all know people who seem to have that indefinable ability to make us feel special, important. Those people who make an impact everywhere they go. It’s been said that we may not always remember what people say to us, but we will always remember how they made us feel. Charismatic people make us feel valued and that’s how they inspire our loyalty and enthusiasm.
My second point is actually a question and it is this: do leaders need to be charismatic? Isn’t it enough to get the job done? In my opinion, leaders do need to have charisma. No-one follows someone who doesn’t inspire them in some way. Jesus Christ, Ghandi, Malcolm X, some of our greatest leaders. I don’t think they would have had the following they did, if they had not been inspirational. Charismatic leaders have that ability to persuade or influence people to do what needs to be done, even if it is unpleasant. They have a knack of being able to share their vision in such a way as to enable people to buy into it and drive it forward. When an organisation is facing difficult times or there is major change coming up, a little charisma goes a long way towards helping people make the transition. It’s important to state though, that charisma on its own is not enough. Charisma without integrity for example can lead to serious moral failings.My last point brings us back full circle to the definition of what charisma is. Although most people think of it as being something mysterious, that only a select few possess, is that really true? Researchers have looked into it and have managed to come up with a list of habits or skills that charismatic people have. Typically they are gifted speakers. Who can forget Barack Obama’s stirring speeches in his run for presidency? They are skilled in reading social situations and other people. They are also very attentive and listen more than they talk. If researchers have been able to distil these and other skills, then it means that charisma can be learnt to a certain extent. It may not feel natural at first, but with practice, we could all become a little more charismatic.
Something else that struck me as I read the list was that the skills used by a charismatic leader are very similar to some of the key skills that a good coach uses. Good listening skills, focusing on the other person and using words carefully are all hallmarks of an effective coach. Does that mean that all coaches are charismatic? I would say probably not, but the basic building blocks are certainly present. I will certainly be working on upping my charisma levels!I’ll be continuing the series next week, looking at integrity. If you have found this interesting or would like to know how coaching could help you, please contact us through the website.
Until next week, go well.