The Point: At the heart of change is inspiration. In other words, if you want those that follow you to heed the new direction set as a result of change, then they had better be inspired to do so. Inspiration in this sense is what occurs when someone is sparked to bring a new idea into being upon learning of the potential to do so. As a part of inspiration, we typically perceive the charismatic leader… A leader that looks the part, sounds the part, and acts the part. But what if you’re just trying to shift or change a minor course correction for your team/department, and not that of the organization/planet? In this post we’ll examine the leadership challenge of charisma and provide one tip to overcome challenges therein… Enjoy!
Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and You?
You’re in your office early on Monday morning pouring over the metrics from the previous week, and then you spot it. There’s an opportunity to once again “fine-tune” your teams processes. While you’ve made great progress over the year, heading into the remaining months of the year you know that there’s a greater emphasis placed on metric attainment (An emphasis that could spell the difference between budget funding or no budget allocation, period!) So how do you approach this delicate conversation to inspire change amongst the team?
Far too often, leaders believe that their ability to inspire others is derived solely from their ability to present the opportunity with charisma. While being a charismatic leader can make things exciting (especially in those moments where hot air isn’t administered), leaders simply cannot live up to the expectations stakeholders have when it comes to those perceived publicly as charismatic. Let’s face it, if you have to give a Martin Luther King Jr. or Gandhi performance to inspire change you will no doubt have your hands full right from the start.
Does Charisma as a Leader Matter?
In researching the abilities of leaders that either are/are not charismatic I stumbled upon a white paper on how the brain processes the importance of change. Specifically, if surrounded by stimuli that prompts you to focus on the unimportant, somehow the important pieces of the puzzle drop into place. It’s as if the stimulus provided by the unimportant spurs subconscious actions leading towards important process improvement/modification moments.
Furthermore, if those improved process improvements/modifications are put into place, then they spur on further improvements. In other words, you cross over into a creativity meets innovation producing successful change equation!
Charisma Tip #1 – Don’t Be
So here’s the leadership challenge for charisma… If you believe that you should attempt to put on your impression of a leader that inspires you, be yourself. But in that “be yourself” moment look to provide the potential to go forward by first going backwards. How far backwards will depend on how much knowledge/deconstruction you need to conduct. Just remember… You don’t need to be charismatic like the mentor leaders that inspired you.
In this post we’ve examined the leadership challenge of charisma, as well as provided one tip for successfully navigating a change dilemma. It’s important to note that too often leaders get caught up in “How should I say it?” or “How should I act when I deliver my message?” moments that aren’t appropriate considerations on the road forward.