The Undercover Toolkit of a Charismatic Leader that Takes Them to The Top
Learn data-backed approaches for every charismatic leader that will ascend you to the upper ranks of your organisation fast.
If you’re an aspiring charismatic leader with a drive to ascend to the upper ranks of your organisation to hold profound influence over the future of your industry, the workplace’s culture and fiscal drivers, this article will outline some data-backed approaches that could get you there faster.
This blog post is best digested in 3 parts:
- Check the tips for summarised below.
- Access my FREE Communication Class for Emerging Leaders, to take your skills further toward implementation.
- If you want to increase your charisma, my High-Performance Communication Audit will uncover the proven speaking skills you need to give you the impetus your career communication is waiting for. This is a premium service designed for top-tier executives and future CEOs.
CEOs and top management teams don’t get to the upper tier of an organisation by their natural talent or even personalities; in most cases, it comes down to charisma.
The Ascension Trifecta
Every ambitious career professional needs to understand what I call the ascension trifecta.
Leave one of three out, and chances are your status quo will plateau, especially in corporate.
Time and again, when aiding emerging leaders to sound eloquent, poised and charming, I uncover a fatal misconception. The first port of call with a client involves me undertaking a detailed audit of their career communication, followed by a 1-1 strategy feedback session.
Now, my clients are typically industrious, academically focused and socially responsible individuals who, unfortunately, tend to overlook the tactical nature of the fast-moving, competitive colleagues around them. Why? Because of the misconception that promotional opportunities come to those with the best expertise and experience. A large portion of the ambitious corporate workhorse is wasting precious time, energy and resources due to this misconception.
And so many employees commit their precious finances and weekends to undertake self-funded MBAs, additional post-graduate study, or worse, say yes to secondments that never lead to a formalised title or pay scale in writing.
While I’d be the last person to criticise a genuinely career-motivated person for undertaking further study (with 2 Bachelor’s degrees, 2 Master’s degrees and an imminent PhD completion, frankly, I’m terrified I’ll have to balance the pattern with a second PhD), this approach will not always result in what the glossy university marketing paraphernalia is promising you. Cast tactical communication skill growth to the side and no number of framed academic documents in your living room will enable a seat in the C-suite or top-tier executive echelon.
Why do I know this?
Because I’ve met 1000s of career professionals striving to showcase their leadership potential and seen them ascend, not through additional degrees or extra years of work under their belt in a bottom-tier leadership position, but solely through the power of tactical charisma and communication manoeuvres, anecdotes that reliable data from the research base, backs up.
A status-threatened boss would have you believe you must expand your expertise and experience to deserve a promotional opportunity to smokescreen the hidden tool kit all top-tier executives set up for themselves.
Timely career ascension, especially in corporate, is the outcome of a trifecta: expertise, experience and communication.
How does a charismatic leader evolve?
Charismatic leaders are made, not born.
Charismatic leaders consciously hardwire at least 16 evidence-based communication behaviours into their interaction style that stimulate their reputation management, influence and memorability and provide them with a forceful career advantage over their ambitious peers with the same qualifications and experience.
If you’re aspiring to enter the elite C-suite in the future, take a moment to consider your current position in the workplace hierarchy. Glance sideways and look at your colleagues around you. I suspect you share the same, if not similar, qualifications and experience.
Are there any outliers?
Now take a moment to consider any fast movers around or, better yet, above you in the workplace hierarchy. Chances are, expertise and experience are similar. They may even hold fewer academic qualifications than you.
Sadly, you may also find that competence is seldom top-heavy.
Career ascension doesn’t always go to the most competent person.
Let’s keep pushing through this because I want to reveal the answer to why you’re stuck, what to do to break free from the plateau at high velocity and why there are so many incompetent but powerful leaders out there.
If expertise and experience don’t correlate with career ascension, what does?
Advancement into top-tier leadership operates on the Pareto principle.
Your expertise and experience determine 20%. Your communication determines 80%.
Why does communication matter so much if you want to move up the ranks in corporate?
Take care because LinkedIn’s corporate community fixation with pop psychology articles on engaging teams, emotional intelligence and aversion to extroversion will slow you down.
In the argument that C-suite executives tend towards high neuroticism, low agreeableness and high extraversion that can verge on the cluster of behaviours suggesting narcissism or even psychopathic tendency, disenchanted employees are missing the wood for the trees.
Certain behaviours and tactics preclude faster movement upwards into the top corporate tier, but they do not predict and secure competence; that takes something else.
There is a direct pathway to the top that you need to consider; opt out of tickets for that ride, and you’ll be stuck in a line for a rollercoaster to nowhere.
If you’re an aspiring C-suite member, you will first need to:
- Showcase leadership potential, and then develop your skills to
- Deliver leadership success
And this is where the career ascension trifecta comes in.
The formula for showcasing leadership potential (LP) is bubbling with a solid concoction of niche communication strategies you can use to showcase your expertise and experience and outshine the other worthy competition.
The formula for delivering leadership success (LS) is brimming with a carefully calculated balance of communication strategies that enhance the credibility of expertise and experience to make critical decisions, manage change and win the support of your team and not only that, make them feel safe and included as well as valued and inspired resulting in improvements to the bottom line for the organisation and ideally the extension of the greater good (this last variable is only given playtime in socially responsible organisations).
Let’s break that down.
LP = communication (expertise and experience)
LS= communication (expertise and experience) (change management) (influence) (social responsibility) (bottom line)
And then, if you do manage to showcase effectively and get hired, take care. There is a heaving majority of middle managers stuck at the leadership success level because they should have paid more attention to the unique communication skills it takes to ensure tenure ship, back up their suggested potential with concrete outcomes and ascend the next rung through higher level showcasing and a successful track record.
There’s more to delivering leadership success than merely showcasing it, which is why we have so many incompetent leaders. “Leaders” who showcased who saw the title as the trophy, forgetting the responsibility and humility of leadership.
Invest in an expert education that trains you to use your communication to showcase your leadership potential—concrete communication strategies can be all it takes to win the role of your dreams. I’ve prepared some tips for choosing the best communication consultant, so check them out!
Career ascension involves more than experience and expertise; primarily, it takes your communication skills to position your value offer. Apply the Pareto principle to this process, and you’ll see the opportunity gaps. You must use niche communication strategies (80%) to showcase your expertise and experience (20%).
Those peers and colleagues around you who seem to be breezing past you on the salary scale and promotion tram- chances are they are incredible showcasers.
The most powerful way to demonstrate your leadership potential is to learn to showcase it.
Now you’ve considered that simply holding a qualification and extensive career history will not get you a dream role. Recruitment processes favour the individuals who communicate their expertise and experience in a way that showcases their leadership potential. After screening applicants, the hiring committee becomes mesmerised by a stand-out candidate, and usually, the new hire has a similar set of qualifications and a no more interesting career history than the paper pile of resumes that get set to the side and later, no doubt, shredded.
So, what did the candidate do differently?
You know the answer.
In being considered for the position, they showcased more leadership potential or professional reputation than the other candidates in a memorable way and built trust and desire from the panel for more.
As a tactical charisma expert, I can tell you this is the aroma of charisma.
As a kid, especially on a cold winter’s evening, the smell of my mother in the kitchen sauteing onions and garlic for sofrito always triggered my appetite. That distinct onion smell is so pertinent that you know onions are cooking.
That smells like Charisma.
Tactical Charisma leaves signs, one of the most potent ways to signal the leadership potential that corporate autocrats want.
Do you know that charismatic communicators garner influence, venture capital, trust, & credibility faster and outdo others in gaining and retaining management positions (Davis, 2017)? Or that “expressiveness is another important candidate” in predicting leadership success (Bakker-Pieper et al., 2011).
At this point, LinkedIn conversation threads turn combattant, and the extroverts and introverts start to gang up on each other. Perhaps we have found the origin at the source of the myth shared among many corporate employees that organisations favour extraverts for leadership roles.
They do not.
They promote charismatic showcasers.
Extraversion won’t get you the role, charisma will. And anyone can learn to increase their charisma.
I constantly encounter feisty polemics and diatribes that extraverts are favoured but seldom do I comment because, as a raging extrovert who got to leadership and autonomy fast, there’s mud on my face.
The myth of positive bias towards extraversion could account for why so many introverts become bitter, disenchanted and demoralised by the notion that their personality is getting in the way of leadership opportunities.
Check some of the many comments I have been screenshotting for the past few years while following the live arguments (names de-identified for privacy, but I promise you, these are actual comment threads). If you are after proof, check any of Adam Grant’s threads on Instagram or Linkedin, and you’ll see how vitriolic it can get:
- “Are companies more profitable with introverted leaders? History tends not to support that conclusion”- Steve.
- “Introverts won’t run over people” – Michaela.
- “So many angry extroverts in the comments” – Sally
- “There is a hell of a lot of articles [sic] posted online about how great introverts are… it leads me wondering: are extroverts too busy socialising and connecting with other human beings that they do not take the time to write self-celebratory fluff pieces?” – Esteban
By now, I’m sure this has whet your appetite. It all begins with showcasing leadership potential. Moreover, it is in a company’s interest to set charismatic leaders at the top.
Because a charismatic leader will increase productivity, profit and KPIs more than an in-house pay rise for their entire team.
And the scary thing? They won’t tell you that.
So you’re managed by a charismatic leader, be very mindful of your workflow, and if you’re a charismatic leader, be ethical. Don’t exploit your workforce by blinding them with your dazzling charisma.
If you are curious about implementing tactical communication skills, I have prepared something extraordinary to take it further. Keep reading to learn more!
Stop feeling second class in the office, because your ideas aren’t.
Listen to this FREE communication audio training from Sara and stop feeling second class in the office, because your ideas aren’t, you just need to learn to speak with authority. This free audio training will show you how.
Ideal for you if you believe you’ve got the expertise and experience to become an emerging leader, but no one is giving you a chance.
Communicating with Charisma is the wormhole that will set you light years ahead of your colleagues and be the strongest predictor of your ability to acquire a highly coveted and desired role. This is your chance to access top level training from Australia’s tactical charisma expert!
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Antonakis, J., and Liechti,S (June 2012). “Learning Charisma.” Harvard Business Review.
Bakker-Pieper, A. and R. E. de Vries (2013). “The Incremental Validity of Communication Styles Over Personality Traits for Leader Outcomes.” Human Performance 26(1): 1-19.
Hu, J. and T. Dutta (2022). “What’s charisma got to do with it? Three faces of charismatic leadership and corporate social responsibility engagement.” Frontiers in Psychology 13.
Davis, B. C., et al. (2017). “Funders’ positive affective reactions to entrepreneurs’ crowdfunding pitches: The influence of perceived product creativity and entrepreneurial passion.” Journal of Business Venturing 32(1): 90-106.
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About the Author
Sara Geiger is a Keynote Speaker, Executive Speaking Coach, and Opera Singer who likes to play with words, sounds, and your impact.
Her academic background is in Music Performance, Communication Science and Speech & Language Pathology. She’s currently completing a PhD in Opera Performance in Europe while assisting executive communication clients all over the world as a consultant.
Connect with Sara on LinkedIn.
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