From the book
21 INDISPENSABLE QUALITIES FOR A LEADER
by John Maxwell
The First Impression Can Seal The Deal
How can you have charisma? Be more concerned
about making others feel good about themselves than
you are making them feel good about you.
Vice President of Leadership Development, INJOY
I have yet to find the man,
however exalted his station, who did not
do better work and put forth greater effort under a
spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism.
—Charles Schwab, Industrialist
THE CLEVEREST IN ENGLAND
During the second half of the nineteenth century, two strong men vied for leadership of Great Britain's government: William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli. The two politicians were intense rivals. You can detect how they felt about each other based on a comment once made by Disraeli: "The difference between a misfortune and a calamity? If Gladstone fell into the Thames [River], it would be a misfortune. But if someone dragged him out again, it would be a calamity."
Many people believe that Gladstone, leader of the Liberal Party for three decades, personified the best qualities of Victorian England. A career public servant, he was a great orator, a master of finance, and a staunchly moral man. He was made prime minister of the United Kingdom four different times, the only person in the nation's history to achieve that honor. Under his leadership, Great Britain established a national education system, instituted parliamentary reform, and saw the vote given to a significant number of people in the working classes.
Benjamin Disraeli, who served twice as prime minister, had a different kind of background. In his thirties, he entered politics and built a reputation as a diplomat and social reformer. But his greatest accomplishment was masterminding Great Britain's purchase of shares in the Suez Canal.
Though both men accomplished much for Britain, what really separated them as leaders was their approach to people. The difference can be best illustrated by a story told by a young woman who dined with the two rival statesmen on consecutive nights. When asked her impression of them, she said, "When I left the dining room after sitting next to Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in England. But after sitting next to Mr. Disraeli, I thought I was the cleverest woman in England." Disraeli possessed a quality that drew people to him and made them want to follow him. He had charisma.
Fleshing It Out
Most people think of charisma as something mystical, almost undefinable. They think it's a quality that comes at birth or not at all. But that's not true. Charisma, plainly stated, is the ability to draw people to you. And like other character traits, it can be developed.
To make yourself the kind of person who attracts others, you need to personify these pointers:
1. Love Life
People enjoy leaders who enjoy life. Think of the people you want to spend time with. How would you describe them? Grumpy? Bitter? Depressed? Of course not. They're celebrators, not complainers. They're passionate about life. If you want to attract people, you need to be like the people you enjoy being with. Eighteenth-century evangelist John Wesley recognized that, saying, "when you set yourself on fire, people love to come and see you burn."
2. Put a "10" on Every Person's Head
One of the best things you can do for people—which also attracts them to you—is to expect the best of them. I call it putting a "10" on everyone's head. It helps others think more highly of themselves, and at the same time, it also helps you. According to Jacques Wiesel, "A survey of one hundred self-made millionaires showed only one common denominator. These highly successful men and women could only see the good in people."
Benjamin Disraeli understood and practiced this concept, and it was one of the secrets of his charisma. He once said, "The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own." If you appreciate others, encourage them, and help them reach their potential, they will love you for it.
3. Give People Hope
French General Napoleon Bonaparte characterized leaders as "dealers in hope." Like all great leaders, he knew that hope is the greatest of all possessions. If you can be the person who bestows that gift on others, they will be attracted to you, and they will be forever grateful.
4. Share Yourself
People love leaders who share themselves and their life journeys. As you lead people, give of yourself. Share wisdom, resources, and even special occasions. That's one of my favorite things to do. For example, I recently went to an annual storytelling festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. It was something I had wanted to do for years, and when I was finally able to work it into my schedule, my wife, Margaret, and I took two leaders from my staff and their wives. We had a wonderful time, and more important, I was able to add value to their lives by spending special time with them.
When it comes to charisma, the bottom line is other-minded-ness. Leaders who think about others and their concerns before thinking of themselves exhibit charisma.
Reflecting On It
How would you rate yourself when it comes to charisma? Are other people naturally attracted to you? Are you well liked? If not, you may possess one of these roadblocks to charisma:
Pride. Nobody wants to follow a leader who thinks he is better than everyone else.
Insecurity. If you are uncomfortable with who you are, others will be too.
Moodiness. If people never know what to expect from you, they stop expecting anything.
Perfectionism. People respect the desire for excellence, but dread totally unrealistic expectations.
Cynicism. People don't want to be rained on by someone who sees a cloud around every silver lining.
If you can stay away from these qualities, you can cultivate charisma.
To improve your charisma, do the following:
Change your focus. Observe your interaction with people during the next few days. As you talk to others, determine how much of your conversation is concentrated on yourself. Determine to tip the balance in favor of focusing on others.
Play the first impression game. Try an experiment. The next time you meet someone for the first time, try your best to make a good impression. Learn the person's name. Focus on his interests. Be positive. And most important, treat him as a "10." If you can do this for a day, you can do it every day. And that will increase your charisma overnight.
Share yourself. Make it your long-term goal to share your resources with others. Think about how you can add value to five people in your life this year. They can be family members, colleagues, employees, or friends. Provide resources to help them grow personally and professionally, and share your personal journey with them.
Perle Mesta, the greatest Washington hostess since Dolley Madison, was asked the secret of her success in getting so many rich and famous people to attend her parties.
"It's all in the greetings and good-byes," she replied. When a guest arrived, she met him, saying, "At last you're here!" and as each left, she said, "I'm sorry you have to leave so soon!" Her agenda was to focus on others, not herself. That's charisma.
IT’S WHAT IT ALL MEANS WHEN PEOPLE SAY “HE/SHE IS SO DOWN TO EARTH, THEY TREAT US AS A FRIEND, THEY ARE HUMBLE. THEY ARE HAPPY TO TALK TO YOU WITH NO FANCY AIR. THEY TAKE INTEREST IN YOU. THEY LIKE TO KNOW THINGS ABOUT YOU THAT MAKE YOU TICK.”
ROY ROGERS, THE KING OF THE COWBOYS [LOOK HIM UP ON THE INTERNET] WAS THE TYPE OF PERSON AS WE HAVE JUST TALKED ABOUT. I WAS AN ORTHOPEDIC SHOEMAKER IN SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN, CANADA IN THE 1960s; I LEFT THEM IN 1973. A FEW YEARS LATER ROY ROGERS AND DALE EVANS HIS WIFE CAME TO VISIT THE COMPANY I WORKED FOR [THEY AMONG OTHER THINGS HAD A SHELTER WORKSHOP FOR THE PHYSICAL AND MENTALLY HANDICAPPED]. YEARS LATER I WAS WORKING FOR ONE OF THE ORTHOPEDIC SHOEMAKERS, WHO HAD STARTED HIS OWN SHOP IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. HE TOLD ME ABOUT ROY AND DALE’S VISIT, AND SAID ROY WAS TRULY A DOWN-TO-EARTH-FRIENDLY-NICE-GUY. HE WAS SINCERELY INTERESTED IN THE WORK OF SHOEMAKING. ROY HAD WORKED IN A SHOE-MAKING FACTORY FOR A WHILE AS A TEENAGER IN OHIO.
WHEN ROY ROGERS DIED IN 1998, THE CALGARY STAMPEDE RODIO WAS UNDERWAY. THE ANNOUNCER TOLD THE CROWD ROY HAD JUST DIED. HE WENT ON TO SAY, “ROY WAS A FRIEND OF THE COWBOY.” AND CALLED FOR ONE MINUTE SILENCE TO HONOR HIM. ROY WAS EVERYTHING THIS CHAPTER HAS BEEN TALKING ABOUT.