Set Yourself Apart: 5 Ways To Be A Charming Leader

I was recently watching ‘Becoming,’a documentary on Michelle Obama. With powerful beats of “this girl is on fire” playing in the background, the former first lady walks in, looking spectacular, leaving the audience captivated and mesmerized. Everyone wants to talk to her, from kids to grandparents, and everyone wants to be like her. She is confident enough to own the stage, humble enough to say she isn’t someone special and charming enough to inspire women around to change the world. 

This is what charm does, it leaves you at the edge of your seat. You feel inspired, captivated, motivated all at once. When I look at leaders like Sheryl Sandberg, Jacinda Ardern and Michelle Obama, I am in awe. Charm is a game-changer when it comes to leadership and I bet you're wondering right about now “but is it something that I can learn?” With the right training and technique, anyone can add that extra factor. Here are five qualities that will definitely help you add charm to your leadership.

1. Be good at communicating

"When somebody walks up to you, don't look around, don't look beyond them. Look them in the eye, take in the story," - Michelle Obama

All charm lies in effectively communicating which is 20% speaking and 80% listening. You have to be your own authentic and amazing self. Let people know who you are.

Connect with them through metaphors and stories. Encourage them to share their own. Maintain eye contact while talking, this shows that the other person has all your attention. Drop in a question or two to keep them engaged. A charming leader always remembers the name of the people they meet so stay attentive. 

2. Be confident

“Feeling confident- or pretending that you feel confident - is necessary to reach for opportunities. It’s a cliche but opportunities are rarely offered, they are seized.”  -- Sheryl Sandberg

Confidence is a trait that might not come naturally to you but you gotta fake it till you make it. It makes you believe who you are irrespective of your doubts and fears. Being in the public eye you have to be vigilant of your body language, your expressions and the way you walk as it reflects your inner confidence. Not just that, the way you dress can magnify your confidence multiple times.

A sense of self and overcoming that self-doubt is what builds up confidence. Confidence lets you be more open to risks, acts as a  motivating force and thus makes you a better leader and one that people can have faith in.

3. Be optimistic

“To me, leadership is not about necessarily being the loudest in the room, but instead being the bridge or the thing that is missing in the discussion and trying to build a consensus from there.” Jacinda Ardern

Adversity is often the test of true leadership. Succumbing to negativity is a lot easier than fighting it. Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, led her country out of an earthquake, terrorist attacks and covid through quick decisive actions, empathy and kindness. She even voluntarily took a 20% pay cut in order to close the gap between herself and those affected by COVID pay cuts.  

Focusing on solutions rather than the problem, not being afraid of failure and being a future-oriented thinker makes a leader charming. People need someone who could lift them up when they feel low, who could show them the light in dark times and who could make them believe that they could get out of any problem if they all work together.

4. Be humble

"The most important words that have helped me in life, when things have gone right or when things have gone wrong, are 'accept responsibility." -- Billie Jean King

Charm is about winning people over and humility is knowing you are not the smartest in the room. While you may think that humility and charisma are opposing traits, you are mistaken. It is good to have your head in the clouds but only when staying rooted in reality. 

Admitting your mistakes and taking responsibility, listening to others and inspiring great teamwork is what adds to the charisma. Don’t make everything about yourself, your accomplishments, your ideas, your this and your that. Let their voices be heard too. There is a lot more to a leader than just leading, it involves learning as well. The room will soon be empty if you start like, “I won tons of awards, a lot of companies want me but I said no… I.. I”

5. Smile, please

“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do” -- Mother Teresa

A lot of hearts can be won over by a genuine smile.The positivity of a laugh is contagious and will draw people towards you. They will be more relaxed and comfortable around you. People would want to engage with you, even when you don’t speak the same language. Not only will it be good for you biologically but it’ll also create a happy atmosphere for people to work in. Chances are if you stand by the water cooler long enough you might hear someone say, “Oh yes, she is such a charmer!”  

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