For most of us, charisma is a seemingly magical quality. We know it when we see it, but it’s easier to recognize than it is to define.
As elusive as the quality seems, there is general consensus about what exactly makes someone charismatic. These qualities include the ability to show empathy, to exude confidence, and to speak in a way that appeals to people’s emotions.
There’s lots of discussion about how to develop these traits, but there’s less talk about how to actually implement them in practice. While charisma is useful in a variety of settings, it’s particularly valuable for business leaders, who can use charisma to influence their customers, their staff members, and their colleagues. Here are some of the ways that you can develop charisma as part of your leadership strategy.
Check In Consistently with Customers and Staff
The reason charismatic people are so magnetic and likeable is that they’re great at showing empathy. For business managers, this means showing empathy with your employees, whether they’re sharing good news or complaining about the bad.
If you manage a team, don’t wait for employees to come to you with praises or complaints; people aren’t always confident about approaching a boss to express their feelings. Instead, check in with them regularly by stopping by their offices or calling them in for a friendly chat. If you can’t meet your employees face-to-face, internal company messaging platforms like HipChat let you send private messages to employees and group messages to individual departments.
It’s also important that you check in consistently with customers--even those who don’t have good things to say. When you ask customers about their input, listen to their feedback, and occasionally adjust your product or service accordingly, you’re showing customers that your business serves them--and not just you.
Know Your Customers
As part of your strategy to develop charisma, you can make a great impression on customers by catering to their individual tastes and preferences. When customer interaction feels personal, customers will be drawn to your brand not just for its product, but also for its people.
To personalize interaction with customers, it’s essential that you and your employees have access to organized data about buying trends, customer types, and customer purchase histories. You can get to know your customers by creating a variety of buyer personas that segment your customers by type. Buyer personas are archetypal representations of your ideal customers based on actual customer data, and understanding these personas is a great first step to learning about your customers’ interests, demographics, and personal histories.
In addition to creating a profile of customer types, it’s important that you give your employees easy access to customer purchasing history so that they can better advise customers through the purchasing process. Mobile platforms are particularly useful for storing and maintaining customer data, since they’re accessible to employees regardless of their location. Pepperi’s mobile app, for instance, gives reps at wholesale companies access to product and customer information, including purchasing trends and customer order histories. This allows sales reps to better answer customer questions and guide them through their next purchases. Overall, accessible customer data means good customer service--and good customer service is what draws people to your company.
Prioritize Listening Over Talking
Scientifically, it’s been shown that a display of empathy is a large part of what makes someone charismatic. It’s important, as a business leader, that you don’t just feel empathy, but that you also show it.
You can do this by making listening, rather than speaking, the focal point of your interactions. While you should be the one to start the conversation, you should also be the one to do most of the listening once that conversation starts. A good way to prioritize listening is to ask people about their feelings and opinions before you talk about your own. This is something you should be doing not only with customers, but also with staff and colleagues.
If you’re the head of a company, you can show that you care about staff feedback by sending them monthly surveys about their experiences at work. Just as you might survey customers for valuable feedback, it’s also important that you survey your employees so that you can continually improve the internal operations of the workplace. Tools like SurveyGizmo let you create and send online surveys, as well as analyze the response data.
Explain with Clarity
Another part of what makes people charismatic is their level of confidence. To show that you’re a confident business leader, communicate business ideas as clearly as possible. If your explanations come across as wishy-washy or convoluted, people will think you either don’t know what you’re doing or have something to hide.
Likewise, it’s important to show that you have conviction in your vision for the company and its projects. When you’re the one speaking, whether it’s to a large group or in a one-on-one conversation, express your perspective openly but confidently. Clear and open communication, combined with good listening skills, shows that you’re open, honest, and credible.
Don’t Rely on Charisma Alone
Ironically, part of being a genuinely charismatic leader is to not rely on your charisma alone. If you’re all charm without substance, you might come across as arrogant, self-centered, and not genuine.
As you practice your listening skills, regular staff check-ins, and clear explanations, be sure to show that you have thorough knowledge of your field and an actionable plan for your business. That way, you won’t be all talk and no action. Instead, you’ll establish your credibility in the field, and employees and colleagues will turn to you as an expert in the industry.