You know the old-school-leader archetype--a powerful presence walks into a room, and all those present stop in their tracks. While command-and-control leadership is a thing of the past, charisma is a timeless attribute.
You can harness your charisma to demonstrate your dominance over a room, to create a feeling of friendship and loyalty, and to communicate good or bad news. Your emotion at the time affects your posture and reveals your intentions subconsciously, so others will see and feel whatever signal you are giving off. Remember, back when you worked for someone else, how you could tell what kind of news the boss had before he opened his mouth at a meeting?
Interestingly, you can learn how to control these subconscious triggers for your own benefit as a leader. Nick Morgan, founder and president of communications consulting firm Public Words, writes in Harvard Business Review about how leaders can master the art of entering a room to wield influence and take advantage of their own charisma.
To exert your influence on others, Morgan says you need to first find out what you're putting out there. "Take inventory of how you habitually position yourself in front of the world and repair if necessary," he writes. For the next steps, check out his tips below.
Pay attention to unconscious signals
In playing poker, half the game is reading your opponents to decide whether they have good hands or are bluffing. Everyone has a tell. The same goes for everyday life. Morgan says to be aware of how you hold yourself and realize that "you're always signaling about your intentions and feelings, and so is everyone else."
But unlike what you do in a poker game, Morgan says, you are usually not paying attention to the signals you're transmitting to others or to those you're receiving from them although all of this information is highly important. "It determines an extraordinary amount of the relationships you have with other people and your influence upon them. Thus it's essential to get a handle on these unconscious cues," he says. Morgan says you need to decipher the signals you give and either embrace or change the feeling you're projecting.
Focus on a strong emotion
"Most people think of charisma as something you're born with, but in fact we all have our charismatic moments," Morgan writes. Tapping into your inner charisma requires focus. He says you need to concentrate on the emotion you want to convey and focus your full attention on that single emotion, and that your body will then impart that message and feeling through your body language, facial expressions, and demeanor.
"The people who are able to free their minds of the usual daily detritus and focus on one emotion find that they compel attention. We are hard-wired to notice strong emotions in others. We have mirror neurons that fire (without our being conscious of them) when we see someone else in a state of great excitement, or anger, or delight. They leak their emotions to us; we are infected with them. That's how they take over a room," Morgan writes.
Back it all up with words
After you have their attention, it's time to flex your muscles. You can't get everyone to stop and listen, and then just mumble something unintelligible. "If you're going to wield influence, you need to know what you want to be influential about. And you'd better have done your homework because once all eyes are upon you, everyone will expect you to have something worthwhile for them," Morgan writes.