How to be a more charismatic manager

Inspiring managers are passionate, which makes them charismatic. Being around them motivates others to act, because strong emotions are contagious. Link that passion to a cause and some stretching goals, and you have a powerful multiplier effect – and you have great leadership.

However, too few managers have thought about their own strengths, beliefs and values – the source of their passion. And even fewer have linked those beliefs to their company’s purpose and values.

When they do, they think, act and converse in a way completely in line with their corporate purpose, which provides the meaning employees crave.

When you are passionate about your purpose, you become charismatic and your passion is contagious. (People really do catch the emotions of others. Just think about people you’ve had to work with who have been constantly negative, and reflect on whether you became more pessimistic around them?)

Being around someone who is passionate and optimistic is a far better place to be. Every leader should aspire to create a positive and optimistic aura. When leaders talk about ideas that are bigger than themselves, something they care about deeply, they are inspired by that idea and it is the cause that animates them.

We spend so much of our lives at work. The average person is going to spend between 80,000 and 90,000 hours at work. That’s a huge chunk of time to spend on something you don’t love, or don’t care about.

The problem is a huge number of managers do exactly that.

They are not really engaged with their work, and they don’t bother to ensure their employees are engaged either. Day in, day out, managers are tasked with engaging employees, but, according to research by Gallup, an American performance management company, a distressingly high number of managers have “checked out”, meaning they care little about their job and their company.

In a research project entitled “The State of the American Manager”, Gallup found that, across 190 diverse industries, only 35% of managers were actively engaged. 51% were not engaged, with 14% actively disengaged.

It goes without saying that this creates a cascade effect – because a manager’s engagement or lack of engagement has a direct effect on employees, with dire consequences. Employees supervised by highly engaged managers were 59% more likely to be engaged and high performing. Of course, the opposite is true, as well. And levels of disengagement are staggeringly high. Studies of global engagement levels suggest that on average of a third or more workers are not engaged!

Until organisations can increase their percentage of engaged managers, they have little hope of increasing their percentage of engaged employees.

So, if you are a manager or aspire to be one, where do you start? I believe that as a leader you have to manage who you are being not just what you are doing.

This was one of the key pieces of advice that I have received from the 120 CEOs I’ve interviewed. If you manage both who you are being and what you’re doing, this will help you to inspire, engage and enable people by consciously developing the right mind sets and behaviours not only in yourself, but also in your team.

Whether you lead a team of leaders at the top of business, or a team operating at the front line, it seems crucial to your effectiveness that you properly define the purpose of the team, within the context of the organisational purpose. Understanding your own purpose then helps you to speak passionately to both the team’s purpose and the organisation’s purpose, because it unlocks your passion and enables you to deliver it without having to think about it.

Defining your own values and using those to guide and articulate the values of your team, enables everyone to understand how to work together and how to behave with everyone they come into contact with. It will also tell them what they can expect of you and how to generate the trust that is so crucial to effective teamwork. When you’ve have engaged yourself in purpose and values, you are far more easily able to engage everyone else.

Charismatic managers are passionate, and they are passionate because they unlock their own sense of purpose and believe passionately in their values. Just remember, your real purpose comes from who you are, and who you are comes from the things you believe truly matter. Define those, and you are on the path to being a whole lot more charismatic.