I’m an executive leadership coach so I see and talk to a lot of C-level leaders. I see many leaders struggle to build consensus and following within their organizations. I know many “technically” great leaders—they have amazing skills and accomplishments in their backgrounds, but lack the special something that unites employees behind them. That doesn’t mean they are doomed to lead an uninspired team that simply takes orders.
There are two categories of leadership qualities: learned and innate. Natural-born leaders have a certain amount of charisma. Leaders who inspire a great following are liked—maybe loved. Unfortunately, you cannot teach charisma—you are either inherently likable or you’re not. Charismatic people are natural leaders.
But you don’t have to be naturally likable to be a great leader. You don’t have to be charismatic to be magnetic. Yes, there is a difference. Magnetism can be learned.
How? Start by making a conscious effort to live the following magnetic qualities:
How and how often do you give feedback? What type of environment do you create with this feedback? People won’t follow someone who only notices screw-ups and constantly focuses on negatives. And they certainly will not follow leaders who take frustrations out on employees. Be generous with positive feedback and recognize the little things. Shake hands. Pat backs. Give a high-five now and then. Appreciation is fuel for production.
Favoritism and nepotism are charisma killers. There is nothing employees hate more than seeing favorites recognized for barely meeting expectations while the rest of the team is ignored. You want to see mutiny first-hand? Watch what happens when you set different rules and processes for different people or teams.
Without clear vision you have no plan and therefore no guideposts for the team. How can employees follow you if they don’t know what to follow? Set a clear vision and don’t change course unless absolutely necessary. In order for people to follow you down the trail you must blaze it for them. Constantly changing course causes battle fatigue and the lost respect of the troops.
No one wants to follow a phony. Be human. You can still be the exalted leader in the corner office, but be a genuine person with a personality, likes/dislikes and a sense of humor. Be respectful and honest with everyone, always. And admit when you are wrong.
I see executive leaders regularly struggle with being human and therefore vulnerable. You’ve been told your whole career that you need to be tough as nails and stronger than the rest. It can be hard to make the mental switch and allow yourself to admit that you don’t have all the answers. But being a little vulnerable is actually quite humanizing and endearing. It’s okay to be wrong, or to say, “we missed an opportunity” when it is true. Overly positive or “flawless” people can come off as fake and frankly, egotistical. No one, and I mean no one, is without fault. When people feel you are vulnerable, you become real and relatable. If they can relate to you, they can follow you.
What will you do to become a more magnetic person?
Howard Shore is an executive leadership coach who works with companies that need leadership development and business management coaching. Based in Miami, Florida, Howard’s firm, Activate Group, Inc. provides strategic planning and management coaching to businesses across the country. To learn more about executive leadership coaching through AGI, please visit activategroupinc.com, contact Howard at (305) 722-7216 or email him.