If you’ve been following this series, welcome to part 3.  If you’re new to the series, you might want to take 3 minutes and review the article that started it all.  You can find it HERE.


In my last article, I offered the “Nine Universal Leadership Characteristics” model as a practical framework by which we could improve our effectiveness as managers of people.  For quick summary, click HERE. I’d like to put each of those characteristics under the microscope over the coming weeks, beginning with the first characteristic on the list—charisma.


When I first heard the word charisma in the context of my job as a manager, I was more than a little worried.  I was informed that “charisma” was being added as a criterion for my performance assessment. Needless to say, my anxiety was a little high because my job description didn’t include anything about “actor”, “preacher”, or “game show host”. While I knew I was a good manager and shouldn’t have anything to be concerned about, I had never given a thought to actually being charismatic or what that might look like. In that the company hadn’t yet given us the descriptions or examples, I turned to my trusty dictionary and was horrified to find that my friends at Merriam-Webster had defined charisma as:


1: a personal magic of leadership arousing special popular loyalty or enthusiasm;

2: a special magnetic charm or appeal


What?!? Are you kidding me?  They were going to hold me accountable for developing a magic charm that arouses loyalty based on personal appeal!  My first thought:  I would need to seriously begin looking for a new line of work.  I’m an introvert; there’s no way I can pull this off.


Thankfully, about the time I was contemplating a new vocation, my boss shared the actual terms and definitions with us.  As it turns out, my company had a different interpretation of what it meant to be a charismatic manager:


Makes others proud to be associated with them.  Instills faith, respect and trust in him or her.  Makes everyone around them enthusiastic about assignments.  Has a gift for seeing what is really important for others to consider.  Transmits a sense of purpose, mission, and urgency.


Ok, this I can get my head around.  Sorry, Merriam-Webster, I’ll need to leave the pursuit of ‘personal magic’ and ‘magnetic charm’ to others. So, what does it look like?  What is it that charismatic managers actually do?  It’s all based on your team’s perception of you. And yes, you do have some control over that perception. With that in mind, I’m going to submit to you three actions that you can take right now that will help make you a more charismatic leader. Those actions include the following:


·   Demonstrate the behavior you seek to instill in your team.

·   Be willing to subordinate your own interests.

·   Delegate tasks with a greater sense of purpose.


Now let’s have a closer look at each of those actions.


Demonstrate the behavior you seek to instill in your team

If we approach this whole idea of managerial charisma from the perspective of instilling trust and generating enthusiasm for assignments, rather than magically arousing loyalty, our task becomes clear and more manageable.  We first and foremost must model the behavior ourselves.  In this context, that means that YOU must project the enthusiasm or energy you seek from others. To be clear, you can’t delegate your enthusiasm, but you can certainly share it freely.


Show your team that they have your trust, that you have confidence in their abilities, and that you are enthusiastic and passionate about your own work.


But for all the enthusiasm you demonstrate, be careful not to overdo it; that is, be sincere. You don’t necessarily have to sound the trumpets every time you set foot in the door. In his article entitled “Five Secrets of Charismatic Leadership,” author Nick Tasler cites research that claims that a calm, reserved management style also generates a high degree of productivity among certain groups, particularly among extroverted employees who already have a high degree of willingness and ability to get the job done. So be genuine, be candid, and know that such behavior will trickle down.


Be willing to subordinate your own interests

While it is possible, the extent to which you can consciously change your team’s perception of you is limited. But, when you make them the stars of the show and conduct yourself accordingly; when you show them that their success is your goal, trust and faith in you will increase dramatically.


Demonstrate to your team that, in your eyes, their needs supersede your own or those of any single individual.  To paraphrase an old saying, there’s no limit to your success if you don’t care who gets the credit! 


Subordinating your own interests is also about having the courage to stand up and do what’s right, even when it’s unpopular or detrimental to one’s success.  I have had the opportunity to witness first hand leaders who have either violated or obeyed this rule and I can say with certainty that a team will follow a leader who demonstrates this level of integrity.


Delegate tasks with a greater sense of purpose

This action is yet another way of shining the spotlight on your team. There are a number of ways leaders can go about assigning tasks to their teams. They can provide a simple overview of a project where they outline the expectation of the final deliverable, timelines, and other project details. Or they can take it a step further and explain the importance of the assignment and where it fits in with the grand scheme of things.


It is this ability to describe the greater context or higher purpose of the task that “transmits a sense of purpose, mission, and urgency” line in the above definition of charisma. Too many of us simply try to execute a plan or implement a process without a complete understanding of the “why?” behind it.  If you don’t know the why behind a task, go find out … and then make the assignment


Not all of us are born charismatic, debonair, and charming, and the last time I checked, the “magic leadership wand” turned out to be a total rip-off. However, with a little research and a lot of practice, we can all sharpen our charismatic skills. Your team will thank you for it!


Now … go get some work done.


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