How you become a self-aware, credible and charismatic leader
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” — John Quincy Adams
If you want to know how to lead your team better, why not ask them? Asking for feedback is an important developmental tool for all leaders as you may not always be aware of the impact you have with your actions. We might feel that we should be the one with all the answers, but we can learn a lot from listening to others and getting their reaction to how we are as a leader.
There are a lot more qualities a great leader needs. Three of them are self-awareness, presence and credibility. Let’s take a closer look at this essential trio.
Importance of self-awareness
“Know thyself, for once we know ourselves, we may learn how to care for ourselves” – Socrates
Having a good understanding of what is important to others is a critical factor in your ability to successfully lead them to achieve goals and objectives. The starting point in the process of understanding others’ motivation lies in increasing your awareness of your own motivations, drivers, values and beliefs.
Think about somebody you have worked with now or in the past or someone in the public eye, that you admire and respect. On a piece of paper write out the qualities they have displayed that generated the admiration and respect you have for them.
When you have completed your list you will find that you have written down a number of values that are important to you. For example when I think of the people I admire the words and phrases that tend to spring to mind are that they are honest, they are passionate about what they do, they “tell it like it is”, they are loyal, they demonstrate empathy and tolerance, they have faith in others and they provide help and support when needed. These are some of the values that are important to me, and working with people who share these values tends to bring out the best in me.
If you look at your list how many of these values do you tend to display? These qualities give a sense to others of who you are and what you stand for and are an important factor in encouraging others to follow you. By asking others about their role models you will also gain an understanding of what is important to them.
Unfortunately managing a team isn’t that easy, as they will all have different beliefs and values. Therefore it is important to gain an insight into how your beliefs and values differ from theirs, so you can adjust your leadership style accordingly.
Presence and credibility
“People are persuaded by reason, but moved by emotion; the leader must both persuade them and move them” – Richard M. Nixon
One of the qualities associated with many successful leaders is that of presence. People notice them when they walk in a room, they have an aura about them that demands that you listen to them. Leaders with presence are influential, persuasive and generate great loyalty amongst their followers.
So how do they do it? Just what is Presence?
Martin Luther King is one Leader who certainly had this magic ingredient. Watch the video clip of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech and try and identify what it is that gives him this charismatic aura.
What did you come up with?
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that gives certain people this aura, as when you look at a cross section of leaders who can be described as having presence, they are all different. It isn’t the case that they are all extroverts or the most creative person on the team. Bill Clinton is regarded as a modern day leader who has great presence and many people who have met him describe the sensation of Clinton making them feel like the most important person in the room.
When you look beneath the surface of these types of leaders you find an inner calm, they are comfortable in their own skin and they are self-assured. They have a passion for what they do and they captivate others with their passion and enthusiasm for their subject.
Can you learn to develop your presence?
Yes, we believe you can.
The starting point is taking time to reflect on what is your purpose, what is it you believe in and why is it important to you?
For example when leading a sales team I firmly believed that each member of the team was capable of doing their job, had the ability to find solutions to the challenges they faced and that they wanted to have control of their own destiny. This is why they had chosen sales as their career path. I saw my role as helping them achieve their goals and reminding them of tools and techniques that they may have forgotten from their initial training. I had a clear vision of what I wanted from my sales team, and I needed to create the environment to allow them to flourish.
It isn’t just about you, though, you need to find out what is important to the people you want to influence. How do they feel, what matters to them, what are their values? As the feedback about Bill Clinton shows it is not just about you it needs you to actively listen to others and their views.
People will rise to the passion you display, but first you need to decide exactly what is it you are passionate about and how it will affect them!
Questions to consider:
- What is important to you in your life and in your work?
- What is important to your people?
- How can you share your passion?
- How can you encourage them to share theirs?
If you are looking for further advice on how to lead your team, then download “50 Ways to lead your sales team” written by Michael Schofield.