My good friend and mentor Debra Benton author of New York Time’s best selling “How To Think Like a CEO” , has spent her life teaching some of the nations top CEO’s how to be more effective and charismatic, so when she speaks I listen.
You’ve seen them. People like John Edwards or Carly Fiorina whose personal magnetism makes them stand out and propels them up the ladder of success.
But is charisma — that powerful personal magic that attracts people and promotions like a magnet — something you are born with or something you can learn?
It’s common knowledge, for example, that the late president John F. Kennedy exuded charisma. Yet historians say his style was so carefully rehearsed that before running for president he even commissioned a study to determine the most effective handshake!
Those who study the phenomenon of charisma say while some people are innately more charismatic than others, there are certain things everyone can do to boost their charisma quotient. Debra Benton, author of Executive Charisma: Six Steps to Mastering the Art of Leadership offers the following pointers:
Regardless of rank, expect to be treated as an equal. If you expect acceptance, you just might get it. If you don’t expect it, you definitely won’t get it.
Control your attitude.
Success in business is based more on mental attitude than on mental capabilities. Be optimistic toward yourself, others and life. Walk in to a room with a spring in your step and a smile on your face.
Perfect your posture.
Pull your ribcage away from your pelvis, roll your shoulders back and down, pull your stomach in and tuck your bottom toward your spine. Breathe deeply. You’ll not only look better, but feel more energized, alert and in control.
Think before you talk.
Think fast, pause, then speak purposefully. One CEO practices saying everything to himself before he says it out loud so that he will hear how it sounds and can change it if he needs to.
Speed in speaking, moving, gesturing and walking looks nervous and scared. Scared people get passed over, not hired or promoted. Learn to speak in a comfortable, easygoing and welcoming way. Don’t waste time, but do speak as if you have all the time in the world for those you are speaking to.
Everything you say or write can be done in a simple, straightforward manner. Just do it.
Be a good storyteller.
People understand you better, remember what you say longer, and find you smarter and more interesting if you use anecdotes to make your points.
Be aware of your style.
Clothes don’t make the man but they do make a difference. Wear well-tailored, good quality clothes that make you look like you are in charge. But remember, it isn’t as much about your look as how you look at things and what people see when they look at you.
Admit your mistakes.
If you are error-free, you’re likely effort-free.
Don’t be bullied.
If you are unjustly criticized, don’t take the bait and get into an argument. Instead calmly ask: “Why do you think that?” “What do you mean?” or “What’s that based on?”
Be able to stand out while still fitting in with the crowd.
Be at ease with yourself and others.
Look others straight in the eye, eliminate any defensiveness and take the edge off your voice. Never let them see you sweat!