Written by: Renée LeMoine
Photo by: Věroslav Sixt
“After reading Jack Welch’s new book and feeling inspired by his accomplishments and charismatic leadership styles, I began to wonder if it was possible to learn charisma, or if it is just an innate trait that we either have or don’t.
Different leadership styles will bring different results, and there is growing evidence that supports the value of charisma in leadership. Leaders like Havel, Richard Branson, Jean-René Fourtou, and Welch stand out for their charismatic qualities, but their crowning glory of charisma wasn’t necessarily something that they were born with. According to the authors of recent research, a person can become charismatic by following a three-step process.
· First, you need to develop the aura of charisma by projecting a powerful, confident, and dynamic presence. Use passion as a catalyst for generating enthusiasm and communicating with the whole body, and not just words.
· Second, draw others in by creating a bond that inspires them to follow. Welch had a difficult time pushing the revolutionary “fix, sell, or close”, strategy for General Electric in the 1980s, but was eventually able to change the way they did business by teaching thousand’s of GE managers to take control of their own operations with profit-and-loss responsibility.
· Third, bring out the potential in followers by tapping into their emotions. Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin, continually stirs people’s imaginations and emotions by chasing after seemingly unachievable goals, exuberating confidence in himself and his staff’s ability, and empathizes with the needs of the public that supports him.
Non-verbal tactics together with these characteristics can further capture the dynamics and energy of charisma. Tactics such as leaning toward staff, maintaining direct eye contact, having a relaxed (or animated) posture, using intense facial expressions and an engaging voice tone, and alternating between pacing and sitting on the edge of the desk should be emphasized to spread the infectious nature of your dynamic leadership style.
Article prepared by Renée LeMoine, Executive Director, LeMoine & Associates
This is the third of a four-part leadership series; based on J.A. Conger and R.N. Hanungo’s, “Charismatic Leadership in Organizations”, 1998.