Tips for developing influence and charisma skills in leaders
The dark side of influence and charisma
Every time I’ve worked with an executive coaching client or a group on building influence and charisma skills, the conversation goes to the potential of these skills to be used for the dark side.
And of course, they can be used this way….by used car salespeople, scammers, and powerful leaders
However, building an awareness and ability with these skills helps people to be able to manage themselves when confronted by the dark side.
3 leadership tips for building influence – skills to practice
So what are some of the ways to build influence? The top 3 in my view are: confidence, warmth and presence.
People assume you are what you project – act “as if” you are confident, experienced, powerful…and you are
Use body language that says I care about you – practice learning forward, smiling, and making eye contact
Being fully present with others. This means, when someone wants to talk to you, turn and face them, move away from your phone/computer/reading, and totally focus on what they’re saying. This not only doesn’t take time or energy, it will save you time and energy.
One of my executive coaching clients took 2 actions to build relationships with his team: he moved to sit at a table with them instead of talking from behind his desk and he focused on listening. This created a very positive shift in his relationships and leadership of the team.
3 habits of influence to add to your toolkit
- Lower the tone of your voice at the end of each sentence (ie you know what you’re talking about, so aren’t asking an implied question by pitching the tone upwards)
- Reduce how quickly and often you nod your head (ie you are giving due consideration to what the other person is saying, instead of listening to your own internal dialogue about what they are saying)
- Pause for 2 full seconds before you speak (ie what you have to say is important and you have fully absorbed what the person you are talking to has said)
These tips are from Olivia Fox Cabane. Her book, The Charisma Myth provides some practical tips on quickly building influence and charisma skills, based on what we’re learning from cognitive neuroscience.
And the most important tip of all
Recognise that the most powerful influence comes from building the capability of people to influence themselves. You do this as a leader by creating an environment and an invitation/choice for people to create change, and recognising the behaviour change and success when they do it.
For more on this see Michael V Pantalon’s book Instant Influence which again reflects what we’re learning about the brain and behaviour.
And for some context, check out anything by Karl E Weick on organisations and collective mindfulness.
Have a great week