Charisma—it’s that one unique quality we can struggle to define in the leaders we admire and celebrities we like. But if you are looking for a way to make 2013 your breakout year for your career, then take note: Charisma can be learned by understanding what it is and developing key communication skills that are associated with being charismatic. Why is charisma so important to your career success? Because it gets you noticed! According to a Center for Creative Leadership study on how leaders cultivate power in their careers, using their personal charisma is a one of 7 strategies. This is fourth in a series on claiming your professional power. You can read my prior entries in the series here.
The qualities of charismatic leaders include being self-confident, inspiring, gracious and charming. Charismatic leaders use effective body language and speak with authority. Their vocabulary is less likely to include statements like “I think so”, “maybe”, or “possibly”. There is a level of certainty to their tone and how they frame the actions they will take. They also connect with their audience or co-workers with a deep understanding of what they may be thinking and feeling. Think of former President Bill Clinton at the Democratic convention last year who openly acknowledge how tough the economy has been and how no other president –including him—would have had an easy time turning the economy around these past four years. He understood that there may be doubts about the future and connected with the audience immediately.
Charismatic leaders also have the ability to listen more than they speak which engages their colleagues and inspires loyalty. They choose their words carefully to maximize impact. They have the ability to convey a certain level of warmth and humanity that makes them seem approachable, too. Look at the career of Oprah Winfrey who has had to interview the most powerful of leaders and victims of horrific abuse and tragedy. Her ability to put both at ease is just one quality that has made her so attractive to her audience and so powerful as a reporter, media producer, actress and humanitarian.
The root word for charisma means “gift of grace” and it offers one more insight about charismatic leaders. The ability to stay cool under pressure or at least act cool is common among leaders. The recent criticism of singer Beyoncé for lip singing the National Anthem at President Obama’s inauguration prompted her to give an impromptu rendition during her Super Bowl press conference. She demonstrated her charm and graciousness while admitting to using a voice track in light of the weather and limited rehearsal time. And then she belted out the anthem! For any of you who sing a cappella—you know that it is never easy to just start singing without a prompt from musicians! That was gutsy and yes, part of her charisma.
Leaders can be charismatic in different ways—there is no one set of charismatic behaviors. The way we express charisma will vary given our unique work and experiences, too. Look carefully at Latinas like Eva Longoria, Jenifer Lopez, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and CNN television anchor Soledad O’Brien. They capture our attention for different reasons. Each of them has intrigued the public with their unique skills, intelligence, and image. It is equally important to notice that these women continue to use their charisma—to focus attention on their special cause or issue, to gain access to other influential people, or to simply continue with the work they have now. Tell me about your Charisma at Latina Cubicle Confidential™ or join me live at the next LatinaVIDA™