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Is charisma killing you? Five keys to unlocking yours

Charles Moldenhauer

Charles Moldenhauer

Most Wall Street “types” may not be known for having the aura of George Clooney or Bill Clinton, but those developing a career may want to take a page from their books.

Charisma is crucial in your job search and career.  It is often more influential than facts and numbers and can make you stronger in one-to-ones, teamwork and presentations.

In his Harvard Business Review article “We Can Measure the Power of Charisma,” MIT Professor Pentland accurately predicted who would win a business-plan competition 87% of the time based solely on social signs including gestures, expressions and tone.

That is the power of Charisma.

We often believe Charisma is an elusive, innate quality easy to spot in influential people, great leaders, or fascinating public figures. Yet, Charisma can be developed.

Five Keys to Unlocking Your Charisma:

1. Engage Your Heart.

At the unveiling of President George W. Bush’s Presidential Library, a journalist noted the emotional speeches of President Bush and others were powerful “because their hearts were engaged.” Although President Bush may not be known as a wordsmith, he connected with the audience because he was honest and real. Do you mean every word you say? Are you connecting with your audience through your heart?

2. Check your Authenticity.

While watching a mock interview on video, clients almost always see flaws in effective communicating and/or making a one-to-one connection. Clients also often comment they are too rigid or unnatural. This is why during interviews and meetings, it is important to believe every word you say. Because saying it, whatever it happens to be, your way, shifts how you come across and such candid realness is the essence of authenticity.

3. Monitor Social Cues.

Social cues are powerful and communicate more than you realize; check yours:
Eyes: Do you make eye contact when talking and is it natural?
Questions: 
What is your ease in responding?
Facial: 
Is your smile, grin or grimace understood?
Motions: 
Are all your motions natural?
Presence: 
Do you have the presence?

4. Master Your Acute Sense.

This means actively listening as well as zeroing in on those little social cues. You are not just talking, you are sensing every cue and every word for what it may mean. Mastering your acute sense lifts your game to another level. This skill is vital for job searching, and developing and maintaining all contacts and relationships.

5. Practice makes perfect.

Today, most people spend the majority of their workday in front of a computer and this can diminish their ability to pick up on social cues.  Yet, in order to be in top form to compete, you need to get out and talk with others. If possible, practice mock interviews and presentations.

Engaging your heart and focusing on authenticity are big steps forward, while an awareness of how your use social cues and acute sense along with some practice will help you create your own charisma.

Charles Moldenhauer is the founder of New York-based Executive Transitioning, a career coaching firm focusing on C-level executives and senior managers.

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