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Secrets of charismatic leadership

Turn on your personal magnetism for maximum effect

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

You may think only movie stars, talk show hosts and hotshot trial lawyers have charisma. But anyone can radiate the kind of energy that generates awe and respect in others.

Charismatic people possess one trait that sets them apart from everyone else: They’re obviously comfortable in their own skin. They’re master motivators because they come across as genuine, believable people who let nothing faze them. Examples: They never let self-doubt interfere with their ability to listen and engage others, and they bounce back from setbacks or embarrassments without skipping a beat.

To develop more charisma, you don’t need a personality overhaul. Just follow these guidelines:

Expand your range of expression. Just because you work in a staid corporate culture doesn’t mean you must maintain a grim visage at all times. If you crack only an occasional smile and prefer a tight-lipped, preoccupied, overly serious demeanor to a more easy-going, inviting and genial tone, you’ll kill any trace of charisma.

Inject more animation into your delivery. How? Raise and lower your voice more frequently, look for opportunities to express enthusiastic praise or admiration, and relax your facial muscles so that you feel free to raise your eyebrows or let rip an ear-to-ear grin when appropriate (just don’t overdo it).

Focus on the positive. Charismatic people are optimists. They never start complaining the moment a conversation begins. They tend to look for what’s right—not what’s wrong—and that’s usually what they want to talk about first.

Remember this the next time you’re in the midst of chatting with your boss or your employees: If it’s your turn to speak, enliven the conversation by raising a topic that will make everyone feel happy, whether you reflect on excellent results or dissect the ingredients that made your team successful. Shift to a more sober tone only after you’ve put your listeners in the proper frame of mind.

Keep an “open posture.” You already know not to cross your arms, rub your face repeatedly or fiddle with your watch while you’re talking to colleagues. Here are some other nonverbal tips to help you radiate authenticity and make others comfortable: Straighten your back so that you don’t slouch (whether you’re standing or sitting), plant your shoes on the ground so that you don’t develop a nervous foot-shaking habit, and avoid finger-pointing gestures.

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