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3 Ways To Elevate Your Charisma

leadership team charisma exec presence

Charisma is what magnetically draws people to you, makes them listen and trust you. It is invaluable in business. Unfortunately, many leaders don’t consider themselves charismatic and don’t believe that they can do anything about it.

Have you ever imagined yourself as the most magnetic, fascinating and engaging person in the room? Have you ever met someone charismatic and wished you could be like him or her? Have you ever wondered if charisma can be learned?

Charisma may seem like a mysterious quality. Something you have to be born with. Something you either have or you don’t. Luckily, this is not the case.

Individuals like Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton or Steve Jobs weren’t born charismatic either. They all developed charismatic traits later in their lives. If they could learn it, so can we.

Even if you don’t consider yourself charismatic just yet, don’t worry. Charisma is a skill which like any other skill can be learned and absolutely anyone can master it through practice.

What Is Charisma And Why You Need It For Professional Success?

Some people call it an executive presence, others a personal appeal or magnetism, but the essence of charisma can be best explained as an ability to connect with, influence and inspire others.

Whether you want to win a promotion to a new role, achieve better results or earn more money at what you do, charisma provides you with a competitive advantage you need to achieve your goal. It gives you courage to speak up. It makes the difference between your ideas getting implemented or ignored. And it helps you get the very best talent to work with you.

In fact, charisma is a crucial part of becoming the kind of leader who wins full commitment of his or her team and their willingness to always go an extra mile. Charismatic leaders build better relationships, attract and retain more customers and generate greater sales than less charismatic ones. As a result, they become more successful and enjoy higher levels of income. Their successes often inspire others to follow them.

So if you are a leader, or aspire to be one, elevating your charisma should be a number one priority on your agenda. Here are three quick and effective ways to do this:

1. Wear Rose-tinted Glasses

Have you noticed that after interacting with some people you feel motivated and energized? While after interacting with some others you feel drained and powerless? Do you know why?

The reason, according to research published in The Leadership Quarterly, is that moods are contagious. They are like a virus. If you have it – a happy or grumpy ‘virus’ – and we spend some time together, most probably I’ll catch it. In fact, leader’s emotions were proven to influence follower’s mood even during a brief and casual interaction between a leader and follower.

What’s more, research confirms that charismatic leaders are more positive than less charismatic ones and such positivity spreads across their teams. As a result, their teams start to feel like they can achieve anything. It’s much easier and more fun to work and accomplish even challenging goals in such positive environment.

You can test this theory at your workplace. Just observe how the mood of your boss affects your own mood. Or if you’re the boss, consider your own mood and how it affects the rest of your team.

2. Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Have you ever had an experience of feeling totally confident, in control of a situation? A moment when others seemed captivated by you? If so, congratulations! It means that you already know how it feels to be charismatic.

In her book ‘Charisma Myth’ Olivia Fox Cabane said: ‘We assume that charismatic people are magnetic every instant of every day. They aren’t.’

What it means is that your level of charisma is not constant. It varies depending on the situation you are in. How you feel in that situation has a direct impact on how charismatic or not you behave. Stress or fear can make you behave in a very uncharismatic way e.g. impatient or aggressive.

As you will not be able to avoid situations in which you feel uncomfortable, it’s crucial to learn how to best handle such situations. Try to keep your cool in any situation. This will make you appear more charismatic and help you to put others at ease also.

3. Be Fully Present In Every Interaction

Have you ever talked to someone who didn’t listen? How did it make you feel? Ignored? Disrespected? Frustrated?

According to research published in Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience our mind needs as little as 17 milliseconds to read facial expressions. We’re able to spot someone’s eyes glazing over or even the tiniest delays in his or her reactions. What does it mean to you? Your lack of attention is highly visible. You cannot fake it. If your mind drifts away, the person you’re interacting with can sense it.

This is one of the biggest charisma secrets. When you’re fully present, even a brief conversation can create an emotional connection and leave your conversation partner feeling great. This is exactly what makes him or her feel like (s)he is the only person in the room.

To become more charismatic practice staying fully present in every interaction that matters to you. Do not let your mind drift away. If it happens, bring it back. Focus your attention on listening to the other person, listening attentively.

Most people never listen, so if you start listening, people around you will notice it. It will make a difference to them. It will show them that you care. And they will appreciate you for that.

Final Thoughts

As a leader, you’re always trying to make the most of who you are and get the best out of your team. To succeed you need to gain trust, build great relationships with others and motivate them to action. Charisma can help you with that.

Now you know that being charismatic has nothing to do with showing off or constantly trying to impress others as some people assume. You act in a charismatic way by spreading positivity to energise your team, putting yourself and others at ease in any situation as well as being fully present in interactions that matter to you.

The more you practice this, the more followers, attention and influence you gain. As a result, the impact you make on your organisation will grow exponentially.

Give it a try and see for yourself. You can no longer blame your genes for the lack of charisma!

Your Kids Need A Role Model: 5 Amazing Tips For Women Leaders From Women Leaders At The Top

women in leadership charisma

The topic of women in leadership has resonated with me ever since I realised that the bosses, mentors and role models I admired and learned from were all males. Yes, it would seem that I was biased! But, in reality, there were not many women in senior leadership positions that I knew and could approach for help or guidance.

When I shared this observation with my female peers, I learned that it wasn’t just a personal problem. It was actually a much bigger issue; my peers all agreed that they often feel the same way.

It has been 12 years since I made this discovery. During this time, I’ve worked in a few different industries, both in Europe and Asia, but things haven’t changed that much or as quickly as I’d like to see them change.

We Need To Talk More About Successful Women In Leadership

In my current role as a leadership trainer and coach, when I ask participants of my programmes to describe a leader they admire, surprisingly, they rarely talk about a successful female leader. This wouldn’t be shocking at all if a group was mostly made up of males, but exactly the same thing happens when a group consists of only females!

So, the questions are: Why cannot we, women, talk more about other successful women? Why don’t we reflect on what we can learn from them? Are we still lacking sufficient female success stories, which we are able to share with others?

On A Mission To Find Accomplished Female Leaders

You can imagine how excited I felt when I was invited to facilitate a one-day leadership workshop at the recent Women in Leadership Summit in Singapore. Yes, this was my chance to ignite a much-desired discussion: Who is the female leader you admire the most and why?

That summit happened to be a perfect place for it. It brought together many successful women from a wide range of industries, many of whom hold senior leadership roles in multinational corporations or run their own thriving businesses.

And the best part is that we all came together with a common goal in mind. We wanted to share our experiences, learn from each other and support each other on our way to the top. You could really feel the energy, enthusiasm and passion flowing around the room. I’m so glad that I was there: it was a great investment of my time!

Top 5 Leadership Tips From The Women In Leadership Summit

In case you missed the summit or want to refresh what you learned, here are my five key takeaways.

1. Plan Ahead And Mobilise Your Support Network

One of the top challenges for women leaders is that they also play the role of primary caregiver for their families. However, in most cases, with proper planning and preparation, these responsibilities can be shared with others, such as family members, helpers, friends and so on.

‘You don’t need to do it all alone!’ Rachel Eng, deputy chairman at WongPartnership LLP, assured us.

‘Create a support network that you can depend on, so that when you are at work, you can fully focus on your job and create excellent results’.

Think of all the people in your life who could help you take care of your family. Let them take over some of your current responsibilities.

2. Be A Professional First, And A Woman Second

‘When you’re at a meeting, focus on a common goal, and not on I’m the ONLY woman at the table,’ suggested Sok Mei Wong, global finance director at Diageo.

Think about what you are trying to achieve, and how you can best contribute to achieving the common goal.

By shifting your focus from something you have no control over to something you can control, you will become much more effective as a leader and the value you bring to any meeting will increase tangibly.

3. Speak Your Mind At Meetings

‘Many women, especially here in Asia, lack the confidence to speak up in meetings and share their ideas,’ noticed Li Li Kuan, country head and COO at Barclays. ‘As a result, it might seem like they contribute less or are less engaged in various projects than their male colleagues.’

Don’t follow this trend. Break the habit of ‘quiet participation’ and try to speak up more often. Start by preparing for each meeting, reading as much as you can on the topic and being ready for a discussion.

And, if you’re still afraid of sharing your own views, you can try:

  • to summarise a discussion, or;
  • to paraphrase what someone said and check for understanding.

The good news is the more you practice speaking up, the easier and more natural it will become for you.

4. Don’t Blend In, But Connect Instead

Have you ever felt like a misfit? Dr Chitra Rajaram, head of Mediacorp Community Segment, shared with us her personal story of how, in 1998, she became the first female editor of a daily Singapore newspaper, Tamil Murasu.

When she first joined the newspaper, it was impossible for Dr Chitra not to stand out. Not only was she the first female editor but she was also much younger than her colleagues and she spoke, acted and dressed differently than the rest of them.

It seemed that there was no way she could connect with her colleagues without blending in. However, Dr Chitra didn’t want to blend in. She felt that she could bring much more value to the organisation by staying true to herself.

So, instead of changing in order to blend in, she took small steps to connect with her colleagues. She made an effort to get to know them better and she improved her tamil language skills, so that she could speak and write in this language. This gained her the respect of her colleagues and enabled her to connect with them.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, remember that you don’t have to blend in; but do make sure that you connect with those around you.

5.     Regularly Upgrade Your Own Operating System

To work in the most efficient and effective way, the operating system of your computer needs to be regularly upgraded. Right? ‘Likewise, if you want to succeed as a leader, you have to upgrade your own operating system,’ suggested Crystal Lim Leahy, director of NUS Centre for Future-Ready Graduates.

Your mindset is the key to what you think and how you feel and behave every single day. It acts as your operating system. So, as Crystal challenged us, ‘How often do you invest in upgrading your mindset?’ Do you always keep your mind curious and open to learning? If so, congratulations! You are cultivating a growth mindset, which is a crucial ingredient to developing yourself and becoming a better leader.

If you keep it that way, you’ll outrun your competition in no time.

Confident About The Future

These five top tips from the Women in Leadership Summit resonated with me the most. I have already implemented tip number one into my own life and it works wonders! I’m not only more productive at work and achieving better results but I also have more energy to play with my little daughter when I spend time with her.

I keep searching for female success stories and I share them with others, as they inspire us to aim higher and play a bigger game. I hope that, over time, more of our role models will have female faces.

As Rachel reminded us during the summit: ‘Your kids need a role model.’

So, why don’t we make it a female one?

Fear Is A Story In Your Head

To become more charismatic and effective as a leader you need to be aware where your fear and uncertainty come from.