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This week two of The Charisma Team attended The Talent Management Association’s Autumn Conference, opened by what was, by all accounts, an impressive, and well delivered, keynote from Paul Bennett, Director at Henley Business School. Paul talked about the need for ‘Authentic Leadership’ (as opposed to ‘Defiant Leadership’ or ‘Compliant Leadership’). He used the analogy of The Gulf War  – Tony Blair being defiant, and the rest of the Cabinet being compliant – to really drive home the point of the potential repercussions when an organisation fails in it’s responsibility to allow talented people to be talented. Paul referred to The Gallup Q12 Employee Engagement Survey, which reports that ‘just 7% of employees feel that they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day’, before asking the audience:

“What does your best at work look like? – and if I was to ask you what your 5 greatest innate strengths are, right now, how many of you would be able to tell me? 

In my blog last week I asked if anyone out there was aware of any models which were applying a scientific set of measurable criteria from which an individual’s ‘charisma rating’ or ‘charismatic potential’ can be evaluated. Several people emailed me about Clifton’s StrengthsFinder, which measures the presence of 34 different talent themes.  Clifton defines talents as ‘ peoples naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling or behavior that can be productively applied’. To my delight this assessment model includes a talent theme called ‘Woo’. Clifton go on to explain that ‘people strong in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person.’

What really appeals to me about this definition, along with the definitions of the majority of the other 33 talent themes identified in this model, is the recognition that people derive satisfaction and pleasure from working to, and using their strengths. Charismatic people – or people with strong ‘Woo factor’ – derive satisfaction from making a connection with another person.

Our own definition of Charisma is that it is an authentic power that captivates the hearts and minds of others. It is neither defiant nor manipulative. Neither is it compliant or accommodating. Charisma has to be authentic, and for it to be authentic it has to come from within.  It is our belief that until somebody genuinely ‘loves the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over’ it is unlikely that any set of carefully rehearsed presentation skills or rapport building techniques will do much to enhance their charismatic presence –it just won’t feel genuine. So whilst we love Clifton’s definition of ‘woo’, we belief that their definition of ‘talent’ is even more insightful. Our naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling or behavior are all wrapped up in our values and our beliefs about ourselves and about our place in this world. If we want to be truly charismatic, we can be – but first we might need to challenge one or two of those values and beliefs that we’ve been dragging around with us, about what our strengths are, and about what they’re not. 

“When you love your job, you will work on yourself so you will be better for your job. You will love it enough to be good at it. If you aren’t doing that, you don’t love your job at all; you love going to that place where you hang out and they pay you for it.”

Larry Winget

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