According to Rosario Signorello at the University of California, Los Angeles, the common feature of a charismatic leader is their ability to manipulate their vocal quality in order to convey different types of charisma. Speakers perceived as charismatic add inflection, harshness or other characteristics to align with their audience’s expectation. Having devoted 25 years to the study of charisma I believe that it is an authentic power that captivates the hearts and minds of others. To put it another way, when you are being you and you love what you do, you shine. You cannot teach vocal quality from a behavioural perspective because it is not sustainable and could be perceived as false. Breathing, stress and childhood traumas that have not been resolved show up in a person’s voice quality.
When people feel threatened they are in survival and erect invisible and impenetrable walls to protect themselves. This disconnects them from other people, they emotionally detach from others. In an organisation employees in survival will detach from their team and disengage from the organisation. Consequently those employees in survival will not be influenced by the available resources or the traditional methods employed by their leader to engage and inspire them. Conventional tools or processes that work well when people are in growth will appear to be like shooting arrows into a concrete wall – they will simply bounce off and fall away. Nothing gets through. Irrespective of how accurately the archer has aimed their arrow, it will never penetrate the wall and never connect with the target. In the vast majority of cases, the stuff that stops people from reaching their full potential – is not a lack of skill or a lack of knowledge. The barriers that block a person from performing well is driven by a primal need to protect their core self. Difficulties with personal relationships, money worries or health issues can trigger a survival mindset at work.
An individual’s programming from their past can create a survival mindset in the present moment. From a very young age, we learn how to ‘put up walls’ that protect us from harm, failure, embarrassment, hurt and a host of other negative experiences. Walls have been a part of our survival strategy for so long that we are often unaware that they are there and we may struggle to differentiate ‘our wall’ from ‘our core self’. Even walls that we maybe aware of can be hard to dismantle. Have you ever wanted to lose weight? Most people who want to lose weight fail. Not because they don't know what to do, what to eat or what not to eat to lose weight. Their willpower or what they see as a lack of it, will sabotage their success. Overeating is not about satisfying their appetite, it is about satisfying an emotional lack, a void within them. Overeating is often an effect of a programmed need to feel safe. Their ‘wall’ of protection is their excess weight. Only when their unconscious mind believes that it is safe to let go of their weight will they achieve sustainable weight loss. Willpower is when our conscious mind goes head to head with the core values, beliefs and programming that we hold within our unconscious mind. Because many of our walls are unconscious we end up working against ourselves. Part of you wants to lose weight and part of you believes that you have to finish what is on your plate because , when you were growing up your parents repeatedly told you that people in Africa are starving to death. A software engineer working for a major financial institution was trying to improve his confidence during presentations. His voice would become very quiet and he struggled to project an air of credibility and charisma. His company had funded many courses for him and whilst they were interesting and helpful to a point none of them helped to address his quiet voice tone and lack of confidence. His breakthrough moment came when he identified a previously suppressed memory at seven when he was being inappropriately reprimanded by his mother. At work, whenever he was ‘put on the spot’ he unwittingly responded as the humiliated seven year old. After an energy releasing session that worked with his unconscious mind his voice was deeper and he began breathing from his abdomen instead of from his throat. He found it easy to speak out at meetings and express his point of view succinctly and with passion. The wall he created at seven had been affecting his vocal quality and consequently his professional career.
Charisma and the way you express your charisma is unique to you. You cannot teach charisma because you simply need to help people dismantle their protective walls and operate in a mechanism of safety and growth. This instantly changes their breathing and their vocal quality in a way that is aligned to the true authentic person inside.