Are you relating to the following?
You are highly educated, you have a university degree and you know that you are good at what you’re doing at your job. But you have difficulties being recognized for your competencies and qualifications. You might hesitate to speak up and struggle sometimes to get your ideas and arguments across.
I fell into the trap of making the mistake of ruminating about how I SHOULD BE to be successful instead of standing up for who I WAS!
It was many years later that I asked myself how it could be that I felt like missing out on my potential all the time – despite my successful career! And I understood that I had been role-playing to show up as the perfect leader all these years. I had been following existing role models and behaviors, which to a large extent did not do justice to my authentic self.
I always had the feeling that I had to fight for recognition, that I was not really taken seriously, not listened to, not truly recognized.
And then I understood that the key to achieving the recognition I was longing for was sitting right between my ears. That it was about mindset, that I first had to get full awareness of all my assets on the INSIDE, embrace and own who I was, and then learn how to make these assets that are unique to me visible on the OUTSIDE.
This is the recipe that I apply to my clients who want to level up their profiles and become charismatic leaders able to engage and motivate in an inspiring and authentic way.
Leaders can only lead effectively when they are confident communicators and able to build credibility and trust – the basis for shaping high-performing teams. We all communicate all day long. Verbally, and most of the time non-verbally.
Communicating with impact takes more than acquiring solid communication and presentation skills. It takes charisma – communication from the inside out.
Now, let’s get specific. What are these 4 core elements, these foundational elements to communicate with charisma?
1 – Authenticity is your guiding principle
The very foundation of charisma is authenticity. And I go even one step further: it is about what I call Authentic Intelligence. By Authentic Intelligence, I mean applying authenticity in a targeted and conscious way and understanding that being authentic is your most valuable asset.
Being our authentic selves can feel risky in our screen-obsessed world. We often balance inner and outer aspects of ourselves to better fit in, be more successful, and be accepted by others.
We are social beings and are wanting to find “our place” in society, and we might believe that our authentic self is not good enough. Our society strives for perfection and defines success by our income or status, not by how authentic we are or how well we live our values every day.
So how are we supposed to be authentic, despite the messages that try to convince us to be someone else?
Well – increasing your level of authenticity is a process. It starts with creating self-awareness around your values, for example, your strengths, weaknesses, and your limiting and empowering beliefs.
Once you are clear about who you are, comes the next step: Embracing who you are – with all imperfections and uncertainties. And then search for discrepancies in your behavior. By observing and making new experiences you learn to consciously feel your authentic self and to be more powerful in your communication.
2 – Confidence is your energy generator
The major thing that holds us back from speaking from our innermost convictions and from pursuing our ambitious plans is a lack of self-confidence. When our self-confidence is low, we struggle to be truly ourselves and to break free from the expectations of others. And we struggle to deliver our message in an assertive way, to say ‘no’ to what we don’t want, and to stand up for what we actually want.
It is something we all face, to some degree. And I can tell you from all the people that I am helping to develop more confidence that most of them appear pretty confident to others. Whereas they do not feel confident inside of themselves and they spend a decent amount of energy to hide this from being seen and this, in turn, makes them look inauthentic and hinders them to communicate with charisma.
The key question is: If we are low in self-confidence, is it possible to do things that will change that? The answer is a clear YES! We have it in our own hands to develop our self-confidence and to get there we can take a quite large variety of actions.
One of the major things that empower you to increase your self-esteem and with this your level of confidence is the following: you stop procrastination. We all procrastinate on hundreds of little things every day. For example, you want to go running tomorrow morning at 7.00 am and then it is 6.50 am and it’s raining outside. And you tell yourself, “Ah it’s raining, I will go tomorrow instead”. How does this make you feel?
When we procrastinate be it on small or bigger things we launch an inner dialogue that is not very friendly. We tell ourselves off and might even treat ourselves as idiots. By doing this – mostly unconsciously – day in day out, we lower our self-esteem and this has a direct negative influence on our level of self-confidence.
Instead, observe yourself. Keep your word. When you intend to do something – do it. Do it on time. And if ever you cannot manage to do it on time, be cautious about your inner dialogue! Don’t allow yourself to be dragged down because you allow your inner chatterbox to speak negatively about yourself.
By taking care of and increasing your level of self-confidence you significantly change the way you communicate – verbally and even more so non-verbally. People will sense that you are convinced about what you are saying and this builds trust and acceptance.
3 – Passion boosts your level of charisma to the top
When you are connected to a topic or a cause you are passionate about it. And you have certainly seen leaders who speak about their topic with passion and these leaders appear to be full of energy and charisma.
Now, you might say “Yes, I am also passionate about a few things and when I speak about these I am a completely different person. But how can I transfer this energetic version of myself to a situation where I have to communicate something I am not passionate about at all?”
It is clear that it’s a completely different story when you have to communicate project goals, announce restructuring, or any other kind of change that you are not convinced of.
This is where a high level of self-awareness is helpful. If you want to speak with passion about something, you need to find a way to connect to the topic. Not only with your head but especially with your heart. And to do this, you must know yourself very well.
A good starting point is your values. When you have clarity about your values you can search for the common ground between these and the outcome of the topic you have to communicate. And if you then find a compelling connection for yourself, you can shape a compelling story for those you want to bring on board.
Creating passion is an inside job and it requires you to open up more than anything else, even for topics that are not great at the first glance. If you train yourself on this technique it will get easier over time and you can have a differentiated approach to topics that seem to be difficult to embrace.
4 – Presence creates the necessary focus
Presence is a word that is often used when it comes to mindfulness. When it comes to communicating, presence is crucial. Communicating is not primarily about delivering and sending out a message.
Effective communication is about sending AND receiving information. It is about listening. Listening not only before or after your speech but DURING your speech.
Be aware of your audience. Who is attentive, who is doubtful. Are they still with you while you are speaking or do you have to adapt your presentation, your wording, your tone of voice? Being present and able to listen sends the message to the audience that you are comfortable with what you are saying and this – in turn – builds credibility and trust and your charisma level will rise.
To be able to be present and to “listen” while you communicate you can do the following:
1 – Know your topic. Know it so well that you can pick up the thread spontaneously when you are interrupted or when you interrupt yourself because you are present and responsive to your listeners’ reactions.
2 – Don’t try to be perfect! If you put pressure on yourself to get every single word right, if you think you must never say em or uh, then all your authenticity is lost and you focus only on yourself, you are inward-looking. And as your energy stays inside of you, your listeners sense that you are not really with them and you lose your presence.
Now, it is up to you!
If there is one thing we need most in uncertain times, it is leaders who empower us to set out for new, promising goals – leaders who inspire us with their charisma, ready and capable to accompany us through major changes. If you want to be one of these leaders you can work on building the four key pillars of charisma:
- Authenticity: Get to know and embrace your authentic self
- Confidence: Learn to love who you are and speak with confidence
- Passion: Learn to generate passion from the inside out
- Presence: Be present and radiate your energy for all to see