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ways to be a more charismatic school leader

Flashback 2016: Unlocking Charisma – 3 Leadership Insights

This week, we’re looking back at the stories that resonated the most with you in 2016. This story was first published in September.

For education leaders, the challenge of rallying different groups, from board members to staff to faculty to students to parents toward a single purpose is no small feat.

Success requires more than good management or organizational skills. Some would say it also requires charisma, that intangible something that so many good leaders have.

But where does charisma come from?

“Many people hold the false belief that charisma is something you’re born with, a trait that cannot be developed or cultivated,” writes author and business expert Chris Myers in Forbes. “In reality, anyone can learn to cultivate charisma, motivate their team, and become a more influential leader.”

Myers suggests that effective leadership is a talent that needs to be cultivated and worked on. The best leaders succeed because they constantly assess their skills, understand their weaknesses, and address gaps in their approach.

He offers three steps for leaders to foster charisma.

Though the article is written with the boardroom set in mind, school leaders too can use these tips to build consensus in their communities.

Confidence is key
“I’ve learned that charisma and confidence go hand-in-hand, and neither can be faked,” writes Myers.

Without confidence, it’s hard to sell others on your idea, he says.

Do not confuse confidence with arrogance. Confidence comes from being secure in your understanding of problems and from leveraging what you know to develop solutions.

Confident leaders understand what they know and learn about what they don’t, writes Myers. That’s why the best leaders are not afraid to gather feedback, or to change course when they encounter a better idea.

They also make sure that their constituents understand their strategy before they implement it.

For school leaders, openness is the best policy. Not everyone will agree with your approach upfront, but they will appreciate your efforts to keep them informed and engaged in the decision-making process.

Body language and tone matter
Sometimes success depends as much on how you carry yourself as what you say.

“Charismatic people are naturally magnetic and attract others into their orbit,” writes Myers. “Warm smiles, good posture, and a quickness of motion all help to make people feel energized, safe, and happy.”

How often do you walk the hallways? Do you meet personally with students and teachers and ask them about the challenges they face? How often do you meet with parents and other community members?

Tone matters too.

Is your messaging dry and overly formal, or do you find ways to let your personality and charisma come through?

Temperature is equally important
Myers adds that real charisma requires warmth and compassion.

Such qualities simply cannot be faked.

As a leader, do you make an effort to get out into your community? What steps do you take to show parents and students and others how much you care?

You might not always make the most popular decision. The key is for your community to both see and to feel how much you care. And charisma can play a big role in that.

How have you sought to develop charisma in your job as a school leader? Tell us in the comments.

Want to be more accessible to the members of your school community? One way is to ask for their feedback.