They say "you either got it, or you don't," but when it comes to leading with charisma - you can learn it.
According to Olivia Fox Cabane's book The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism, people aren't born charismatic. They acquire it through knowledge and practice.
With charisma, you'll become more influential, persuasive and inspiring. People will become magnetically drawn to you, trust you, want to learn from you.
Charismatic leaders "cause followers to become highly committed to the leader's mission, to make significant personal sacrifices, and to perform above and beyond the call of duty," says Robert House, a Wharton School business professor.
We've compiled the most interesting points to help you rise to the top of your game.
1. You don't have to be the most attractive person in the room.
Yes, we all agree that being attractive certainly has its advantages, but it's definitely not a requirement.
Winston Churchill wasn't a sex symbol, but he's still considered one of the most influential leaders in history.
2. Make people feel like they're the most intelligent, impressive and fascinating person in the room.
3. To make someone feel as if they're the only person that matters, do these three things during conversations:
- Lower the intonation of your voice at the end of sentences.
- Reduce how quickly and often you nod.
- Pause for two full seconds before speaking.
4. Your presence should always be present.
A study conducted by Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert estimated that 46.9% of the mind is spent "wandering."
"Being present means simply having a moment-to-moment awareness of what's happening. It means paying attention to what's going on rather than being caught up in your thoughts."
In the middle of a conversation, if your mind is somewhere else, your eyes will glaze over and you'll start making facial expressions not typical to a person listening. And your companions will notice.
5. Think of something pleasant so you appear sincere.
Your brain doesn't know the difference between imagination and reality so when you imagine something pleasant, your body will react in an open, accepting manner and make you appear sincere in real-life situations.
It only takes as little as 17 milliseconds for people to read your face so any slight "split-second microexpression" has a good chance of being caught.
If there's an incongruence between our main expression and that microexpression, people will feel it on a subconscious level: their gut will tell them something's not quite right.
There's definitely a clear, visible difference between a social smile and a true smile so think of something pleasant and your smile will be a real one.
6. To appear more open and inviting, rise if you're sitting to be similar heights and keep your hands out of you pockets when you shake someone's hand.
7. Make sure you have the right handshake.
The right handshake will do more for you than an expensive suit will. Can you imagine someone powerful with a weak, limp, awkward handshake? Probably not.
Here are the worst of them:
- The Dead Fish. This happens when one hand is extended into another, but there is barely any movement.
- The Knuckle Cruncher. This happens when there's too much force. The violator is usually someone who doesn't know their own strength or someone who is trying to prove that they should be taken seriously.
- The Dominant. This happens when the hand's palm is extended down, which symbolises the offender having the "upper hand." The opposite of this is "The Twisting Dominant," which is where the hand is normal at first, but then twists to gain the upper hand once contact is made.
- The two-handed, or the Politician's Handshake. This happens when the other person uses their free hand to cover the handshake, the other person's wrist, arm and shoulder.
8. Become an excellent listener by deliberately pausing and asking questions.
John F. Kennedy was known as a "superb listener" who made others feel like he was "with them completely."
When most of us are trying to show that we're listening, we typically wait for someone to be done speaking before we start. This is not a suficient method. Instead, ask them questions. If you're truly not interested, it will show on your face that you're secretly waiting for your turn to speak.
9. Choose your seat carefully around a table.
This decision will influence the outcome of the entire negotiation.
When people sit across from one another with a table separating them, they tend to argue more and speak in shorter sentences. If you want to avoid confrontation, sit next to the person or at a 90-degree angle from them.
Also avoid seating them with their back to an open space, especially if there is a lot of commotion going on behind them.
10. Don't compare yourself to others.
It's in our nature to compare ourselves to others, but if you're criticising yourself, "the threat response impairs analytic thinking, creative insight, and problem solving," says David Rock, the founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute.
This affects us personally, but also affects how others perceive us.
11. Combine your power with warmth to create a full, charismatic package.
To show that you're powerful, you don't have to physically have great strength - you can achieve this status by maintaining a strong persona, such as displaying intelligence, like Bill Gates, or kindness, like the Dalai Lama.
When you increase your level of power, your charisma level also increases, but it's best to combine this with warmth so you don't appear too cold or dictatorial.
12. Don't let self-doubt affect your persona.
In 1978, Georgia State University professors identified that the "imposter syndrome" affected 70% of the population at one point or another.
This will create self-doubt as if you're just waiting for someone to expose you as a fraud. This kind of effect will make you appear untruthful and unsure of yourself.
13. Recognise what the problems are and fix them.
For example, if you're wearing clothes that are too tight, it will physically show that you're uncomfortable, but your companions will think you appear disengaged and untruthful.
14. When you're dealing with a difficult group of people, divide them up, then conquer.
15. Make time to warm-up before a big event.
When it's important that you're charismatic, make sure you fit in a warm-up period that allows you to gradually ramp up to the level you want.
You wouldn't run a marathon without warming-up or give a speech without practicing so don't think you can simply be charismatic on the spot. Get in the mental state of warmth and power by taking part in an activity beforehand that makes you happy.
If running calms you, then make time for this or simply listen to your favourite music before an important meeting. Make sure the playlist has songs with themes of self-confidence, warmth, empathy, and patience.
16. Intentionally put yourself in uncomfortable situations so that you can deal with internal discomfort more effectively.
17. Know that there are different charisma styles.
You can choose different styles based on your own personality and situation. Whatever you do, don't force it or you'll end up seeming unauthentic.
Here are the different styles:
- Focus. This style is based on the perception of presence. Adopt this when you want people to feel like they're the only ones in the room with you.
- Visionary. This kind of style makes other people feel inspired and appearance matters far less than with any other style.
- Kindness. This kind of charisma comes from body language and is based mostly on warmth. However, if you don't combine this with some authoritative skills, you'll come off as too overeager to please.
- Authority. This is the most powerful charisma style of them all and those who acquire it are not likeable all the time. We evaluate this power through four indicators: body language, appearance, title and reactions of others.