Can character and charisma be learned?
Great leaders and influencers will attract people to them and their message through their charisma. Some people are born with an energy that draws people to them. Think of that old saying, ‘You light up the room.’ That is natural charisma. But if it doesn’t come naturally, ask people around you to give you feedback on how you communi-cate, how you make them feel, whether they are persuaded that you really listen to them and make them feel special. Do you share your message with passion? These are aspects of charisma that you can learn and will need to learn if you want to be a great leader.
Even more important to the way you lead is that it is true to your character. Do you show strong values, ethical standards and integrity in your dealings with others, for example? Are you ready to stand up for what you believe in, even when you are the only one brave enough to do so? If others see you acting with courage and sincerity, with a commitment to improving your workplace, your community and your world, they will recognise the strength of your character. To be a great leader, be true to your character first; the charisma can follow.
A strong personal brand with integrity — you
Let’s be realistic. Today you have to build your own brand if you’re not to be overlooked. It’s as simple as that. However, when you start to build your brand, or you revisit your brand at any given moment, ask yourself these critical questions:
Does my brand fully reflect my own integrity?
Does my brand show what I stand for and believe in?
Am I proud of the person reflected in my brand?
The answers you give yourself will help you use your brand in order to stand out and be recognised for the right reasons.
Next in line is the business plan
Whether or not you are religious, all leaders and influencers can learn from such wisdom. Define your vision, articulate it clearly and concisely, communicate it broadly, and you will have taken the most important steps towards reaching your goals while staying true to your values.
Values, vision and mission provide the essential foundations for any organisation. Recruit people who are of like mind in these three areas by communicating your vision clearly and strongly.
Our vision statement at Speakers Institute states boldly where we want to head and what the end of the journey might look like. If you want to be a leader and influencer that people will follow, then you need a vision that shows exactly where you are heading and why.
Building your confidence to make the big decisions
We all make thousands of decisions every day; in both our personal and our business lives we face decisions with potentially huge outcomes. At this level, you need to start the decision-making process by being conscious of your values, your goals and the ways you want to demonstrate your significance. Once we are conscious of all the implications of a decision, we can examine the practicalities and arrive at a considered choice.
If you want to lead and influence, you must have the courage and the clarity to make good decisions. Often this will mean making them on the spot, when you don’t have time for research or to stop and think for too long. When that happens, you should be ready to draw on your conscious awareness of who and what is involved in or affected by the decision. This will help give you the confidence to act quickly and with authority.
Now focus on your purpose
Outstanding leaders, managers, influencers and speakers know their purpose and are committed to achieving it. As the first step in this journey you should become complete within yourself. Do this by working out what might be bothering you. Are you anxious, angry or stressed? Do you feel someone has let you down, or worse? If so, then find ways to deal with these issues. Ask for help, talk to the people around you, address the problems and, importantly, find your sense of gratitude. Look at what’s great in your life; think about the people who give you their love and support; consider the good things you can do for others and how you can change even a small part of someone’s life for the better. That will bring you to a place of gratitude and completeness.
Once you’ve reached this place you can make clear decisions, unclouded by negative emotions or bad habits. Bring this clarity to achieving your purpose and you will be someone people want to listen to, and your sphere of influence will grow. You will have a positive impact on the people at your table and beyond.
Vulnerability is a sign of truthfulness
Many of us want to influence others. Around the world people are looking to thought leaders for new ideas and directions. But at the start of the new decade, we are growing impatient with people who want to lead and influence on their own terms. Instead, we’re looking for leaders who will tell the truth, for better or for worse; who will bring us into the conversation by sharing with us what they believe is going on.
We are ready to listen to people who admit their vulnerability by sharing their failures as much as their successes. And we are ready to throw our support behind inspirational leaders, like Gandhi, who commit their entire lives to fighting for what is right and true. In this decade we will be influenced, perhaps most of all, by people who stand up for the truth.
Your value proposition
Our days are filled with making decisions and taking action — in our workplace, at home and as we plan for the future. Action is essential, of course, but what happens when your actions lead you to the wrong place in your life, as happened to me as a teenager? What if you’re confronted with a major decision and you’re not sure which way to go? What guides you as a leader and influencer that people want to follow? The answer is your values. Values come before actions, because your values inform your actions, helping you to navigate the countless major decisions we all have to make through life.
The 4 C’s
Opportunities are great. They can open doors for start-ups and revive failing businesses. The thrill of chasing a new opportunity is exciting and I love it. But before opportunity comes loyalty.
We should stay loyal to people who have been there for us, even in times when others are rejecting them. We should stay loyal to our goals, vision and purpose, and to our own expertise.
People look to leaders and influencers who have the foresight and creativity to recognise the benefits of new opportunities. More than that, though, we respect leaders who value loyalty and don’t lose sight of it in the tempting glow of the next shiny new opportunity.
We follow leaders who put significance before success
Success is exciting, fulfilling and often lucrative. More important, though, is the significant contribution we can make to our community, our organisation and the people we lead. Success can be fleeting; it can rise and fall within a year. True significance is lasting; it is a legacy you create for those who follow. It can make all the hard work, overcoming obstacles and knock-backs, worthwhile.
Start small but set standards that will support you as you grow
We all want the big things life has to offer. That’s understandable. It’s part of our nature, and it’s great to be ambitious. Where would the world be if we didn’t think big? I’m the first to admit I want big things for my children and for my colleagues. But be prepared to take time and focus on the details when you’re starting out. As a leader, don’t dismiss someone’s concerns because they seem trivial to you. They are clearly important to that person and they are looking to you for help.
Don’t rush in and make mistakes when taking your time and assessing the situation could lead to great outcomes.
Make plans and develop structures to expand your sphere of influence. Spend time on building your content and your social media profile; develop your own authentic brand. Talk with your colleagues about your big ideas and listen to them if they want to discuss the details of their work.
It’s always true: big things grow from small beginnings.
Keep the why relevant as your business grows
We always need to understand the why first. Why are we doing this? When we can clearly see the vision and follow the purpose of our why, then we can start to find different ways to achieve it. We can then experiment with the what and how in our organisation or in our own lives.
As a leader, if you want to create other thought leaders within your organisation, don’t start by teaching them how to do something or by telling them what they should do. Because then you’re encouraging them to conform to one way of doing things. If you want to create true leaders, start by talking with them about why we do it, why we want to head this way, why we want to achieve this outcome. Once you ignite the why in your colleagues, then they can start to work out their own ways of achieving it, their own how.
Five keys to storytelling
We can’t do business without data. We’d fumble around and never make informed decisions if we didn’t learn from what has happened before and assemble the facts to support the expected outcomes. There’s no question that collecting, analysing and using data is essential in every field.
Before data, however, come stories. Most of us want to make emotional connections with others; for better or worse, we think with our hearts as well as our brains, and there’s nothing better than a story to create these emotional ties. We might not be able to access all the data from hundreds of years ago, but we still have the stories from that time. Why? Because stories are hardwired in our brains. We heard them when we were little kids and we still love to hear them now. So before we buy products and services, and before we are prepared to follow leaders, we need to hear their authentic stories.