Part of any leader’s toolkit is the ability to have a presence and leave an impact.

How you connect with others will say much about your ability to inspire a shared vision, encourage the heart and enable others to act.

It might be said that today’s leaders are always on stage and the impact they have on their audience will directly affect their personal and professional success.

Historically, people have been promoted into a leadership role because they’re skilled in the job they have been doing in the past - e.g. a technician, an operator, an engineer, etc.

However, their role as a leader demands less time on their original skillset and more time on skills such as winning hearts and minds, influencing internal and external stakeholders, and having an effective and memorable impact.

Yet, people often find these skills of presence, gravitas, charisma, etc. difficult to define. After all, if there was a clear criteria that could be learned, we’d be living in an artificial world as odd as The Stepford Wives.

The good news is that there are skills and behaviours available to us all that we can learn and practice to develop our personal impact.

In his study on Charisma (Famelab 2005), Professor Richard Wiseman suggested that 50% of charisma is innate and 50% is learned behaviour. Therefore, we could – and should – recognise the value of this and make sure those skills, that can be learned, are.

Of course, it starts where most learning starts - increasing your self-awareness, understanding how you are perceived and adapting your behaviour with others to become more confident.

This is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, but an opportunity to recognise your strengths in communicating and developing these fully.

Any act of influencing, persuading or inspiring in the hope of making an impact requires you to understand exactly what your audience needs. There are usually opportunities to develop this range of behaviour in one of these three areas of focus, if not all three:

  • what others see
  • what others hear
  • what others feel

Start by thinking of a recent experience you have had at work and note down your reflections on each of these three areas of focus. Then start to identify ways you could have created a greater impact with the same audience by flexing your behaviour to match their needs.

Let us know how you get on.