“What I Thought I Knew About Charisma”

I will be honest, I always thought the idea of charisma was a bit of a mix of positive and negative. Part of me always thought that those who are charismatic are theatric or all about rallying the team through inspiring and motivating others with their message or vision. I had no idea how far off base I was. John Maxwell defines charisma as a quality that describes someone whom others want to follow. However, this is not caused by their great speeches or vision, but their demonstration of their ability to genuinely care for others. I’m almost irritated at how simple of a thought this is. People want to follow people who care for them. I started reflecting on the leaders I’ve followed without falter. My very first boss when I was in high school and working at a summer camp gave us all trash bags and told us to clean up the grounds. Ten minutes after he sent us out, I realized that he had joined us and was helping in what seemed like a massive task. He cared. I had one boss a few years back, whom I will be honest, was a bit overwhelmed with his situation – much of which was out of his control. My location was really struggling and anyone else would have quit had they been in my shoes. My boss recognized my contributions, thanked me for my hard work almost daily, and took a vested interest in me personally. I would have crashed and burned with him without hesitation. He cared. Another boss, whom I’ve technically not seen in almost 5 years, has continually checked up on my career progression and development. She was the first person who was truly honest regarding my feedback, but was smart enough to help me navigate through my challenges and grow as a leader. She cared. The fact that I was so blind to this idea of caring and how it relates to charisma is a little frustrating, but I must say I’m excited to know that charisma is produced by something more pure than just words. It’s created by a genuine and vested interest in those that follow you. I used this as my filter today, in fact. In every interaction, I was very intentional in asking how others were doing first. I didn’t deal with any customers directly today, but tomorrow I will be very focused on asking them how they are doing versus just inquiring what they need. Bottom line, I want others to think of me as someone that cares for them as individuals because I do care. I just need to be much more intentional with my actions. I hope one day someone recounts stories about me to those they know and I’m simply described as someone who cared about them, not just someone that managed them. This is yet another filter that I hope to master and add to my arsenal of being not only a better leader, but a better man. Charisma is not what I thought it was. It isn’t just a character trait. It’s the end result of putting others before yourself D

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