The Netherlands lacks charismatic leadership!

Kenneth Smit editors 06-05-2016

We have more than enough managers, everyone agrees on that. But management and leadership are not the same. Do you have it in you to be or become a charismatic leader, and can you learn that?

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Charisma... what is that anyway? According to Van Dale, it is a Greek word of origin that stands for a supernatural gift, (irrational) personal attraction and charisma. Especially the latter evokes recognition. Charisma creates attraction. And that can sometimes be irrational, both in a positive and a negative sense. Do we have enough leaders with charisma in the Netherlands? For example in politics and business. And if not, why would we need them? We have more than enough managers, everyone agrees. But management and leadership are not the same thing. Do you have it in you to be or become a charismatic leader, and can you learn that?

What characterizes a charismatic person?

Sociologist Max Weber calls charisma an 'exceptional form of leadership'. Someone who can thus provide an exceptional form of preponderance over others. Such persons are scarce, also in the current Dutch political landscape and business life. Do you know Dutch examples? Politically speaking, Wilders comes close, although he too has not been charismatic enough so far to really gain power. In our business world, a person like Pieter Zwart of Coolblue comes a long way, with his open, humorous way of performing in the media.

Charismatic leadership can have an enormous positive effect on the results and the culture within your organisation. However, it can also be especially dangerous politically, witness the rise of dictators such as Mussolini, Hitler and the various African 'war lords'. But what characterises a charismatic leader?

First of all, he or she has developed the talent to feel the feelings of others perfectly. A powerful weapon of course! And by sensing those feelings, a charismatic leader is also perfectly able to build on them and unleash new feelings of unity in the general public. But perhaps what best characterizes a charismatic leader is, without letting himself be influenced, to implement a vision and to hold on to it. This often results in 'after-ape' behaviour, in a positive, but unfortunately sometimes also a negative sense.

Skill or gift?

Is charisma innate or can you learn it? Professor Richard Wiseman is convinced of the fact that charisma is innate for about 50% and can be learned for the other 50%. In short, charisma is trainable.

One of the best examples of a charismatic leader during the past period in our history is of course Nelson Mandela. Through a combination of the right timing and charisma, he was able to grow into an icon. However, Mandela is also the ultimate proof that charisma can be trained. From his childhood he was taught the art of leadership by a leader (chief) of the Thembu, a people in the East of South Africa, where Mandela grew up.

How do you train charisma?

You too have it in you to become a charismatic leader for your organization. We have put together four lessons that can help you learn or strengthen your charismatic abilities.

1. Body posture

An open body posture is crucial to convince people. Openness provides attention and trust.

2. Presenting

Charismatic leaders are often very successful in presenting. Think of the famous speeches of Obama, Martin Luther King. But also people like Hitler mastered the art of presenting down to the last detail. So develop your presentation skills.

3. Communication skills

A charismatic leader has very good communication skills. It is important that you are able to listen well and let everyone speak out before you take the floor. Gaining empathy for the opinions of others is also an important characteristic of these communication skills.

4. Authenticity

Being different from the rest. Sticking your head out above ground level. That's also very important for a charismatic leader. What makes Pieter Zwart of Coolblue different from other leaders? He shows himself more and has a different, more open and humorous style of communication than most CEOs. That works! So work on your own style and make a difference.

Within Kenneth Smit we provide numerous training courses that can help you further develop your charisma. Take a look at our communication trainings, for example, or coaching.

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