A couple of years ago, a friend of mine and I were talking and landed on an interesting topic. We started to analyze different types of leaders, such as: business leaders, community leaders, and environmental leaders, to determine and understand what made these people appealing to others. In our debate, we agreed that, among other skills, these people possess a type of magnetism that attracts other people. We wanted to know then: Does this magnetism have a name? Can anybody learn this skill?
Several days later, my friend came to me and recommended a book called The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane. I was astounded to learn that this was an entire topic of discussion in the book, with a plethora of information available regarding the subject. The magnetism, as we described it, is called charisma. By the time my friend finished talking about the book, I had already ordered a copy for myself.
As a person who has been given the opportunity to lead different software development teams, I found this book interesting. I like to promote a healthy, well-balanced, and fun environment with the team I work with, and after reading this book, I want to share how charisma can be beneficial for teamwork.
Power, Warmth, and Presence: The Core Components
The author describes that each leader emphasizes one of the following components: power, wealth, warmth, and presence.
- Power is when people believe that the leader is someone who can offer solutions or put things in motion. This is the trait that most people give importance to.
- Warmth is a trait that leaders possess when they are characterized for their kindness and empathy.
- Presence is the ability of a leader to visually impress; either by their appearance or manner. This doesn’t necessarily mean the way a leader dresses, but the confidence by which they present themselves.
Find Your Style and Stick to It
Charisma is a state of mind that begins with the individual. A person must feel comfortable and relaxed for others to consider them charismatic. For this to happen, a person should begin by being comfortable with themselves. They can do this by finding a ritual that helps them get to that comfortable place. Our internal mental state influences the way we think and project ourselves. The author suggests different tools to combat and overcome negative thoughts and help you start to feel more comfortable with yourself.
The author explains that there are four main types of charisma styles. These can be determined by the way a person handles their day-to-day. The first style is the focus charisma. This style is characterized by the way a person listens and pays attention to a conversation with another person. The second style is the visionary charisma style. This style is characterized by the confidence and convictions of the person. An example of this being the passion that a person may have for what they do and how they demonstrate it. The third style is the kindness charisma style. This style is characterized by the warmth and empathy that a person shows. Finally, the fourth style is the authority charisma. This style is characterized by how a person projects power and confidence. Body language plays an important role here.
Let’s Sharpen Our Communication Skills
Every charisma style relies on the communication skills of the person communicating. A good conversation is a two-way street, meaning that when you communicate with someone, you have to be able to do it in a manner that they understand you, and on the other hand, if someone is communicating something, you have to make an effort to understand the other person. We do this by asking questions and engaging with the other person.
Charisma State of Mind
The most important things that we can contribute to our team are a good attitude and being part of their support system. Remember this anytime you encounter a blocker or challenge- a little positivity goes a long way. If you tackle a challenge with a defeated state of mind, you’re going to find the challenge harder than it is. You’ll most likely be uncomfortable, you’re not going to have fun, and you’re not going to be able to overcome the challenge. On the other hand, if you change your attitude to a more receptive and positive state of mind, the process of overcoming the challenge is going to be a joyous one for you and for anyone who joins in.
After my friend and I each finished the book, we got together to discuss what we took away from it. We started to identify charisma in different people that we’ve had the opportunity to observe, their different styles and charisma components. One element that stood out is that every successful team has people that emphasize different charisma components. All of them complement and balance each other. This has contributed to a healthy team environment.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a lone wolf or a team player, charisma is an important skill to develop because it creates a healthy work environment. It helps to develop and sharpen communication skills by creating a mindful state of mind. Give it a try. Get in the charisma mindset, practice your communication skills, find a charisma style that suits your personality, and go conquer any challenge.
By Gilberto J. Ramos Otón