Can You Have Too Much Charisma?

During election season there is a lot of discussion about which candidates have the most charisma.  Dictionary.com defines charisma as a personal quality that gives an individual influence or authority over large numbers of people. We often assume that the most charismatic leaders are also the best leaders but a Harvard Business Review study indicates that too much charisma may actually hinder a leader’s effectiveness.  When self-confidence becomes narcissism or persuasiveness turns into manipulative behavior, that isn’t effective leadership.

Here are some ways to demonstrate the right level of charisma:

  • Make a good first impression – you have less than a second to do so. The way you walk, dress, shake hands and make eye contact speak volumes before you ever open your mouth.
  • Focus on others – express genuine interest by asking questions and listening to the answers without thinking about what you’re going to say next.
  • Be appropriately passionate – talk with enthusiasm about what excites you and tell compelling stories.

How can you leverage charisma as one element of Executive Presence to be a more effective leader?

Do You Have Executive Presence?

Most of us recognize executive presence when we see it. We also recognize when we don’t see it. When successful executives hit a career obstacle, a lack of presence may be the issue.

I am coaching a laid back Ph. D whose boss wasn’t sure he was ready for a promotion. Feedback from my interviews with his colleagues indicated that he needed to speak up more in meetings to ensure that he was making a strong impression. Although my client didn’t want to state the obvious, he agreed to try speaking up sooner with constructive observations. He found that he was able to project self-confidence rather than self-promotion.

Executive presence is conveyed by:

What you say
Knowing your subject is critical. Communicating expertise through intelligent questions is very effective. Concise remarks that reflect insight have a much greater impact than a lecture.

How you say it
Use a warm tone of voice to project confidence rather than arrogance. Persuasion doesn’t necessarily require volume, but you must speak loudly enough for everyone to hear.

What you don’t say
Posture is power. Whether standing or sitting, you want to command attention and confidence. Sit slightly forward in your chair and lean in without compromising personal space. Avoid distracting habits like drumming your fingers or clicking your pen.

You can change behaviors to enhance your executive presence and help you achieve your career goals. To explore how coaching can support you contact me at cheryl@csbryan.com