Personal charisma isn't a genetic attribute; it's a skill you can develop and improve. And it's easier to do than you think!
Marc Benioff is a leader who exudes charisma. The CEO of Salesforce.com knows how to open a conference, and when he speaks, you can see him pumping up the crowd, pacing up and down the aisles, and interacting with the audience. He does so because of his passion for his industry, his boundless energy, and his deep understanding of cloud computing.
Benioff worked his way up in the tech industry very quickly. At Oracle, he became the youngest person to become a vice-president by the age of 26. At 35, he founded Salesforce.com, continually growing it from a tiny business out of his San Francisco apartment to the multibillion dollar company it is today. His charisma gave him the extra push to advance his career at a phenomenal pace.
While this all sounds great for high-profile CEOs, how can you develop the same skills to boost your own career? Turns out it may be simpler than you think. Focusing on a few helpful guidelines can greatly increase your charisma in whatever field you’re currently working in.
Be Interested, Not Interesting.
When I was an intern at Northwestern Mutual, inspirational one-liners were tossed around on a daily basis. I admit, I forgot the mass majority of them, but I managed to hold on to a few good ones. One of them was taught by a soft-spoken rep who had achieved fantastic sales results month after month. He didn’t have a particularly exciting personality, but every time you talked to him you felt like he really listened. He drew people in by being genuinely interested in what they were saying. His motto always seemed to be “Be Interested, Not Interesting.”
Charisma isn’t about being the loudest person in the room. It’s the skill of inspiring others. Being fully present and interested in others will actually make you seem more impressive. Try it the next time you have a conversation with a coworker or client. With all the distractions of our busy lives, focusing on being interested can leave a very positive impact.
Before I start on this one, please hear what I’m not saying. I’m not advocating for the bubbly, nothing-could-go-wrong kind of optimism. Nor am I saying you just need to be more optimistic, dangit! Adam Grant, a business professor at Wharton, once wrote a fascinating article on the subject of strategic optimism and defensive pessimism. It can be summarized in that we need both optimists and pessimists in our world, yet either extreme can be deadly.
However, for the purpose of being charismatic, optimism wins this one. In a study of American CEOs, it was found that a stunning 80% of them identified as being “very optimistic.” It’s not hard to see why. Optimism is a key factor in traits such as resilience and persistence. In addition, we can see this play out in our daily lives. Ask yourself who some of your favorite coworkers are. Do they see the best in things or do they constantly see the worst possible outcomes? I’m willing to bet they see the best in things and energize others to do the same.
If you’re naturally more pessimistic, take a look at the article from Professor Grant for some science-backed encouragement. The key is balance. It’s rare to find a total optimist or pessimist. Use your optimistic side to increase your charisma when around others, but take advantage of pessimism to perform realistically and consistently.
Really Know Your Stuff
Charisma is a fantastic way to boost your career, but all too often people think that they can wing it with charisma alone. Avoid the embarrassing trap of walking into an important meeting or presentation with only the basics. Shallow knowledge is easily found out with one or two probing questions. By truly preparing for a presentation, you come off as significantly more charismatic. You speak up, display confidence, and become an asset to your clients or coworkers.
Developing charisma may help you get to the top, but knowing your stuff keeps you there. Work hard to develop yourself into an expert in whatever field you are in. It doesn’t matter if it’s an entry-level job or an executive leadership role. Merging expert knowledge and a charismatic personality will pay dividends time and time again.
Personal charisma is not some genetic attribute you get at birth. It is a skill that you can develop and improve. Practice being wholly interested in what others care about and talk about. See the bright side in things, and let your optimistic side show. Finally, become an expert in your field to become a trusted person others can look to.
Written by Luke Jordan
This blog post is from the Author's perspective and doesn't speak for brightpeak financial. Contact brightpeak if you want to know more about brightpeak products, and keep in mind that they are not available in all states and there are some limitations (some exclusions and restrictions may apply).