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Archive for the ‘Charisma on TV’ Category

Nigella Lawson and Mary Portas have both been making headline news recently for very different reasons. Portas, the prophet of profits as she was referred to in The Independent today is championing a changed approach to the future of high street retailing and is at loggerheads with former Iceland boss, Bill Grimsey. Nigella’s very public separation from her advertising guru husband, Charles Saatchi has also put her through the emotional wringer. Yet still these women exude authenticity, charisma and passion.

There has always been something about Nigella Lucy Lawson’s obvious passion for food that caused me to notice her. We were both born in 1960 and we both have an obsession with food. I experienced years of bulimia and binge eating during my teens and twenties and have struggled with my attitude towards food for most of my life. To me, Nigella has always been a role-model, with the way she feels about food. Her absolute passion for it, even those ‘forbidden’ foods blended with her self acceptance of her curvaceous figure is enchanting. She is an intelligent, well-educated woman who has cracked the US market with her sexy and flamboyant cooking. Known as The Queen of Food Porn, her mother was a Society heiress and her politician father became one of the most powerful men in Britain. Nigella is a media phenomenen, her tv series has sold worldwide and her books have sold over three million copies. She writes for The New York Times and has developed a collection of cooking and tableware with top designer, Sebastian Conran. According to the Vice President of Food Network, Bruce Seidel, “food is love to her and this comes across in everything she does.” Once you fall under Nigella’s spell, you just want more of her. She describes herself as “a greedy person” and shook up the US – her imperfect way of cooking and self deprecating irony caused her popularity to soar. Described as one of the sexiest women in Britain she is relaxed about her curvaceous figure and is completely comfortable in her own skin. She is very natural in front of the camera, relaxed and full of passion. Watch her whilst she is cooking and you’ll see her dip her finger into her culinary concoctions and lick her fingers !She cannot help but show her sensual nature, her obvious sexuality shines through. Her independent spirit and maverick way of living her life shows her authenticity. A trip to Florence, Italy in her teens, shaped a lifetime of enjoying eating and Nigella became passionate about food. She possesses huge resilience having lost her mother to liver cancer, her younger sister Thomasina to breast cancer and her first husband John Diamond to cancer. She has an inner strength that has enabled her to overcome her own personal tragedies without any trace of bitterness and she is frequently described as formidably charismatic, maverick and fabulously passionate. In terms of her charisma, on the surface, the attribute that Nigella does not really possess is vision. Her first husband John, had the vision for her glittering career. She publicly states that “I lurch about from one crisis to another – I don’t have a game plan – I won’t do anything that disrupts my family life.” So is Nigella’s real vision to be happy? When her first husband passed away she formed a close relationship with Charles Saatchi, whom she later married, feeling attracted by his “energy and aliveness”.

Mary Portas is another impressive woman who was also born in the same year as Nigella. She made her name transforming Harvey Nichols into a fashion powerhouse. Her career as a retail expert bagged her a government appointed position to lead a review of Britain’s high streets. Mary is upbeat, remarkably convincing and her Portas Plan garnered support from David Cameron and is triggering a heated national debate. Mary has shown that she has incredible vision with how she commissioned artist Thomas Heatherwick to design fabulous window displays that won her a D&AD Gold Award that celebrates brilliance in commercial creativity in 1997. Her creative vision was then applied brilliantly to transforming charity shops during her television programmes in 2009 when she had to engage an army of volunteers with an average age of seventy eight. Mary is outspoken, unafraid to share what she really feels and has a wonderful ability to connect with people from all ages and from all walks of life. Mary struts into any new retail challenge (note her strident trademark walk) with purpose, steely determination, fiery red hair and a beady eye for the missed opportunity. She shows her emotions, wears her heart on her sleeve and she doesn’t try to tone down what she really believes. Mary is completely tuned into energy and frequently refers to negative people as being draining. At times she is an overt bully as her fanaticism for detail and the main chance over-rides her need to be liked yet ultimately most people become engaged and converted fans of her recommendations. Like Nigella, Mary has experienced tragedy in her life. At sixteen her mother died of meningitis and at eighteen her father died of a heart attack. Yet you never catch Mary showing any evidence of a ‘Poor Me’ attitude – she simply gets on with it and continues to move forward towards her next exciting challenge. Like Richard Branson, Mary has sought more from her projects than success and material acquisitions as she established her charity concept – Living & Giving developed for Save the Children following her 2009 television series. She has cleverly combined her life’s passion with a life’s purpose showing that this charismatic heroine has a big heart.

I cannot decide which woman, Nigella or Mary has the most charisma because they both score highly in each one of the five attributes of charisma. Nigella’s vision in terms of her career and life purpose is at its purest – happiness – so who am I to judge whether this is any less noble or important that Mary’s vision to help disadvantaged children. Whilst there are hundreds of inspirational and remarkable women who are making a massive difference to the world we live in and show great courage as they make their mark on our society, very few can be described as having that transcendental and allusive quality of charisma. What thrills me is that both Nigella Lawson and Mary Portas are great examples of charisma and charismatic women are quite rare to find these days!

I think I’ve just about recovered. As I settled down with a glass of wine in front of the TV at 2.00 o’clock yesterday I‘m sure that I hadn’t fully anticipated how exhausting and emotionally charged my lazy Sunday afternoon was going to be. I played every stroke. I fought every rally. I experienced the glow of genuine personal achievement with every unplayable ace I (sorry, I mean ‘he’) delivered, and I fought hard to keep myself calm and focused each and every time our gladiator hit a frustratingly simple drop shot into the net. When Murray eventually won through, after Novak Djokovic’s brave and stubborn refusal to concede defeat in that last game, I felt the pride rise in my chest  – as surely my efforts had somehow contributed to this historic victory. And I wondered if I would ever see a more perfect example of the power and impact of our beliefs played out in front of me?

Before yesterday’s match, and despite a hugely partisan crowd, the bookmakers Paddy Power made top seed Djokovic 8/13 favourite win, and were offering odds of 11/8 for a Murray victory. Most of the experts agreed that if both men played at their best Noval Djokovic would win. I can’t imagine how heavily the burden of the hopes and expectations of the nation would have felt on Murray’s shoulders I have no idea what odds you could have got on him winning in straight sets.

As someone who makes their living from studying and understanding human behaviour I don’t believe I have ever before witnessed a sporting event where two equally matched opponents visibly switched back and forth so abruptly from believing, feeling and knowing that they can win, to allowing the possibility of defeat to creep into their minds. Both men in turn lost a string of matches in a row as the self-doubt and fear flooded their bodies with cortisols and stress hormones that tightened up their muscles and choked the instinctive, unconscious flow of their game. You could feel the energy, belief and willpower of the Centre Court crowd ebb and flow with them as the drama of the afternoon unfolded.

Andrew Murray didn’t win yesterday because he possessed superior skill, technique, experience or strength. He won because, on the day, he had a better strategy in overcoming the self-doubt. Maybe getting off to such a fantastic start in the first set gave him a psychological advantage. Perhaps the vision and sense of destiny that his brilliant coach Ivan Lendl has instilled in him was what made all the difference. Certainly the massed positive vibrations of the crowd (both in SW19 and like me, at home in their armchairs),willing him on, will have played a part. Yesterday Andrew Murray did a better and quicker job of re-establishing, what we refer to within The Charisma Model Programme as a ‘growth mindset’.

This morning, almost by way of a waking thought, I was reminded of a poem from my schooldays, and with such a wonderful example of the power of belief fresh in the National consciousness, I thought it would be a good day to share it.

If you think you are beaten, you are; if you think you dare not, you don’t;

If you’d like to win, but you think you can’t, it’s almost certain you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost, for out in the world you find

Success begins with a person’s will. It’s all in the state of the mind.

If you think you’re outclassed, you are; you’ve got to think high to rise;

You’ve got to be sure of yourself before you can ever win the prize.

Think big and your deeds will grow; think small and you’ll fall behind;

Think that you can and you will. It’s all in the state of the mind.

Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man:

But sooner or later the man who wins is the man who thinks he can.

Walter D. Wintle

During the week I sat down to watch The Brits with my personal Generation Y Mentor – my 18 -year-old daughter, Rose. I enjoy The Brits, for me it represents my once a year self-assessment survey into how in touch with – and appreciative of – what young people are listening to and (most importantly) wearing. Over the years The Brits have been an absolute treat for charisma watchers. It is an event where the reputations of competent, likeable musicians have been elevated to legendary ‘Rock God’ status, and established Rock Gods careers have crashed and burned on the basis of one embarrassingly over emotional and /or egotistical acceptance speech or performance.

Last week, for the first time, I became of aware of Ben Howard. I can’t say that I thought he was any better as a singer/songwriter than say Ed Sheeran last year, but I thought he came across as a really nice, unassuming guy. I honestly don’t think he had any idea that he was going to win ‘Best British Male’ ahead of Ollie Murs or Richard Hawley, and his humble, confused, chuffed to bits’ acceptance speech was heartfelt, authentic and charismatic. Well done Ben – a star is born!

The other big winner on the night was Emeli Sandé who, in my opinion, falls into the category of ‘Contextually Charismatic’. When Emeli is on stage performing her presence is simply electrifying in it’s honesty and vulnerability – I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. When she came up to receive her award however, we realised that she wasn’t really all that vulnerable at all! Emeli is clearly a confident, well educated, and ambitious woman, but she’s not particularly sweet (like Taylor Swift), quirky (like Paloma Faith) or funny (like Adele). Last night, it seemed to me that we found out that Emeli Sandé is not quite who we thought she was based on our preconception of her stage persona. It’s not her fault of course, but I wonder if that conflict of authenticity will go on to damage her popularity somehow?

In looking to try and explain the phenonema of ‘Contextual Charisma’ I am reminded of a famous story about Marilyn Monroe, out shopping on Sunset Boulevard with a friend. After nearly an hour shopping, so the story goes, Marilyn’s friend was so amazed that they had been able to walk from store to store without being either approached for an autograph or even noticed, she asked Marilyn what was going on? The Screen Icon simply explained that she just ‘hadn’t switched Marilyn on’ this morning, and with nothing more than a deep breath and a shake of the head, engaged ‘Movie Star mode’. Within seconds, the two of them were so engulfed by people wanting autographs and photos, they had to hail a cab and beat a hasty retreat.

It would seem then that Norma Jean could ‘switch on’ Marilyn at will. Whilst we will never perhaps fully understand what strategies she employed to ramp up her energy and in so doing, her charismatic presence, we can only speculate that the effort required to draw upon a persona that was not authentically aligned with who she really was at her core , would appear to have been ultimately unsustainable.

At any given moment our individual Charismatic Presence is determined by the extent that we are feeling positively in touch with 5 key internal attributes ; Self Esteem, Sensory Awareness, Personal Vision, Driving Force and the balance of our Energy levels all naturally fluctuate depending upon all manner of influences –both external and internal.

The reason that some people appear to be able to switch their charisma on and off, almost at will, is because they have developed strategies to ramp up, or power down all, or some, of these internal triggers. For example, it may be that Robbie Williams and Emeli Sandé experience much higher levels of Self Esteem, or are more in tune with their Driving Force when they are on stage performing, and this in turn powers up the level that they are vibrating at energetically. When off stage, without feeding off of the adulation from their audience, their energy, and very possibly their self-esteem levels will take a dip, making it difficult to maintain the huge presence that they possess when they are channelling the energy from their followers and fans.

For all of us then, it can be an interesting exercise to think about the times, or contexts, when we are at our most charismatic? The chances are that when we are being totally authentic, doing things that are aligned to our own vision of what is important to us, we will be accessing far more of our true charismatic selves. When we are with the people in our lives where we have a good level of sensory awareness of each other, people that make us feel good about ourselves and build our self-esteem, we all shine just that bit more brightly. And when we are doing the stuff that engrosses us, when we are accessing our driving force and we are up on our own personal stage, in the limelight, and performing at our very best, then the levels of energy that we can generate will elevate us to a different level of charismatic status.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit this week about Psychometric Testing for leaders, and in particular about the availability of an effective psychometric test for ‘charisma’. Much has been written about the desirability and importance of charisma as a leadership trait. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review ‘ (June 2012) ‘concluded that; “The most effective leaders layer charismatic leadership on top of transactional and instrumental leadership to achieve their goals”. Yet despite what appears to be a consensus opinion that charisma is a most desirable asset for a business leader (or for that matter a Politician or a TV Presenter), my quick Google search ‘Psychometric Testing for charisma’– which invariably brings pretty well any information that I need immediately to my screen – drew a blank. It would appear (and please somebody correct me if I’m wrong?) that nobody else is applying a scientific set of measurable criteria from which an individual’s ‘charisma rating’ or ‘charismatic potential’ can be evaluated.

What I did find however, fifth entry down nestled between our own home page and the article by Dr Chamorro – Premuzic which I referenced last week, was a very interesting report about a Psychometric Test carried out back in 1997 by Australian psychologist Len Oakes, which focused on the subject of ‘Charismatic Authority’.

Charismatic Authority

Charismatic Authority was first defined in 1922 by sociologist Max Weber as “resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person.” In his writings about charismatic authority, Weber applies the term charisma to “a certain quality of an individual personality, by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or (at least) specifically exceptional powers or qualities. Weber went on to explain that on the basis of these powers or qualities the individual concerned is treated as a leader, and makes the point that Charismatic authority depends heavily on the perceived legitimacy of that authority. For instance, a charismatic leader in a religious context might require an unchallenged belief that the leader has been touched by God, in the sense of a guru or prophet. Should the strength of this belief fade, the power of the charismatic leader can fade quickly.
As discussed in last week’s blog ‘Dark Charisma’, Max Weber makes the point that a charismatic leader need not be a positive force.

Len Oakes, the Australian psychologist who wrote his dissertation about charisma in 1997, had eleven charismatic leaders fill in a psychometric test, which he called the adjective checklist. The report explains that he found them as a group ‘quite ordinary’, identifying however that charismatic leaders:

• Exhibited traits of narcissism
• Displayed an extraordinary amount of energy,
• Possessed an inner clarity unhindered by the anxieties and guilt that afflict more ordinary people.

As a strong advocate of the opinion that organisations need, now more than ever, to be prioritizing on developing the charismatic presence of their leaders and high potentials, I was delighted with Dr. Oakes’ findings. The three traits that his psychometric test identified very much support our own view of the internal characteristics of a charismatic individual, as well as our approach. I will, however, admit to initially being a little perplexed by the ‘narcissism word, so I looked it up to find that in psychology, the term is used to describe both normal self – love and unhealthy self – absorption (due to a disturbance in the sense of self). My feeling is that it is probably that level of narcissism, or ego, that would be a primary trigger to whether an individual charismatic leader was seen as a positive, or negative force – Churchill or Hitler, Mandela or Mugabe, Branson or Murdoch etc.

Our own approach to developing charisma starts with the precept that it is already there within every one of us. As Len Oakes first observed over 15 years ago, ‘quite ordinary’ people can significantly increase their charismatic authority by working firstly on their self-esteem, or self-love. Most of us will, at times in our lives, consciously or sub-consciously, harbor insecurities about whether we are ‘good enough’. Our experience is that it is, more than anything else, these self-limiting beliefs that stop the majority of us from reaching our charismatic potential.

When we work with individuals and teams, much of our focus is on how we an use and build energy. We use a variety of techniques including dowsing and Reiki to demonstrate the effect that our thoughts and emotions have on both our own, and the group’s, energetic presence.

In addition to Self-Esteem and High Energy, the three internal attributes that we have identified as being highly developed in charismatic leaders are Vision, Driving Force and Sensory Awareness – echoing Dr. Oakes third attribute of ‘inner clarity unhindered by anxieties and guilt’.

I thought it might be interesting to test our model of charisma against a control group that are in the public eye to see if it might be possible to predict success. So for a bit of fun I decided to score the ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here’ contestants against our 5 internal attributes of Charisma which are; Self-Esteem, Sensory Awareness, Vision, Driving Force and Energy as well as two other criteria central to our model – Authenticity and Leadership. Whilst I completely accept that my findings are entirely subjective –and that ideally 360 degree feedback scores should have been included, my prediction of the winners, based upon contestants charismatic leadership scores are as follows:

1. Ashley from The Pussycat Dolls
2. David Haye
3. Hugo or Rosemary

Incidentally according to my calculations, it would appear that there is a high probability that Rylan Clark will go on to achieve more success than the rest of this year’s crop of X Factor contestants….

If you would like to take our free Charisma Profile and find out how charismatic you are compared to your colleagues go to; http://www.audiencewithcharisma.com/profile/

It has been a tough week in the media for charisma. Last Monday night historical writer and documentary maker Laurence Rees’ new 3 part series The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler started on BBC 2. This series, about an awkward, dysfunctional man who developed “a level of charismatic attraction almost without parallel in history”, is unlikely to be sending out too many subconscious messages that charisma is a good thing!

Equally, last Thursday The Harvard Business Review published ‘The Dark Side of Charisma’, an interesting blog from Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic , international authority in personality profiling and psychometric testing. In his blog Dr Premuzic argues that, amongst other things, charisma disguises psychopaths, distracts and destructs, and is responsible for ‘downgrading leadership to just another form of entertainment’. Whilst I have to admit that I disagree with much of Dr Premuzic’s article, it is well written, and certainly mirrors the distrust that much of the business community still seems to have about charismatic leaders, and about developing this attribute as part of their organisation’s leadership programme.

Returning then this week on Laurence Rees documentary, London’s Metro was one of the first to voice concern about the BBC2 documentary’s title, observing that charisma seems too benign a word for pure evil, and asks is ‘charisma ‘ the best way to describe the power Hitler held over the German people? Uncomfortable as it may be, my answer to the question is yes. Adolf Hitler was without question an extraordinarily charismatic man. Certainly in terms of his rise to power, his personal charisma was one of the most effective tools that he used to tap into the collective psyche of the German people.

My question to the business community then is this; Just because there will always be individuals who will use their charismatic presence inappropriately, is that a good reason not to develop the charisma of your leadership team? As with any other advanced communication skill, charisma can be used for good, or for evil – and that distinction will always be about individual intention.

We define charisma as “an authentic power that captivates the hearts and minds of others.” Charisma builds personal impact, ability to inspire, engage and create followship. It is a powerful leadership tool and with it comes a mantle of responsibility.

There are 5 internal attributes that determine a person’s charismatic presence – Self Esteem, Sensory Awareness, Vision, Driving Force and Energy.

Watching The Dark Charisma Of Adolf Hitler last week nobody could deny that that Adolf Hitler had an extraordinary skill as a public speaker. In terms of The Charisma Model he would certainly have scored highly with regard to energy, and driving force. In a recent interview about the programme Rees explains that people felt an emotional connection with their Fuhrer, and that he in turn knew precisely how to connect with their emotions to give (at least) the illusion of a high level of sensory awareness.

In the economic crisis following The Wall Street Crash of 1921, and with unemployment at 30% Hitler knew exactly how to play to the shattered self –esteem of a Germany that felt downtrodden and humbled following World War 1.

Above all else Adolf Hitler offered the German People trapped in a survival mindset a compelling vision of growth, prosperity and empowerment. He told millions of Germans what they were pre-disposed to hear – that they were racially better than everyone else.

Over 80 years later, with what we now understand about Cellular Biology and Epigenetics, it is easy to see how it was the power of this vision – from survival to growth – which captivated the hearts and minds of the German people. At a cellular level we have just two operating mechanisms, we are either in survival mode, or we are in growth mode. In survival mode, when we feel worried, anxious or in fear, our bodies stimulate stress hormones causing the cells in our bodies to close down. In a growth mindset – an environment of hope, excitement and recognition – our emotional state produces very different ‘feel good’ hormones, sending our cells the signal that it’s now safe to grow, re-energise and repair. Individually I am sure we can all get in touch with times in our lives when we have been in each of these mindsets, and we can recognise how very different they feel. Imagine then if you were to multiply this shift in attitude by several million people, and I guess you can begin to understand how the circumstances of the times conspired to create this terrible bond between the leader and the led.

History shows us that Adolf Hitler rose to power in no small part by optimising his own charismatic presence, and offering his followers a compelling vision of growth and prosperity. History will also show that once the ordinary German people began to recognise the true horrific nature of that vision, Hitler was fully prepared to create fear amongst his own followers to maintain power and control. The power that Hitler held over the German people was charisma, exercised with pure evil intent.

It is my belief that by developing our charismatic presence we increase our personal power, our ability to influence people and situations, and get things done. When we allow charismatic leaders to go too far is that really the fault of charisma, is it the fault of the Government – or in Business, The Board of Directors – for giving individuals too much power, allowing them to go unchallenged, and not putting proper control mechanisms in place?

For leadership to be charismatic it has to be authentic. If it’s not authentic then it is indeed something else ….. and sometimes as Dr. Premuzic quite rightly argues, that can be something very dark indeed.

“Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it”
William Pitt The Elder, Prime Minister – 1770

“I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting”
My Vision, by Barack Obama

In Chicago last week a rejuvenated and inspired Barack Obama promised the cheering crowd that ‘The best is yet to come’. But across America – and across the world – people are quietly asking; “Is it really?” If Mr. Obama was elected in 2008 on a tide of idealistic and unrealistic hope, this time round he was surely re-elected to confront a set of gritty and very specific issues. Mr Obama won the Electoral Colleges by 100 votes, but the popular vote by just one percent. America is, in terms of engagement, at best neutral and, at worst, outside the cities and away from the coasts, much of the conservative heart is actively disengaged.

Elsewhere this week, The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) published their Autumn 2012 ‘Employee Outlook’ report. With regard to engagement in the UK, the report shows that the majority of respondents (59%) remain neutral – being neither engaged or disengaged. The report went on to show that just 32% of staff with neutral levels of engagement and just 18% of disengaged employees feel that their personal values match those of the organisation. More than a fifth of respondents cite the importance of all managers, from the chief executive down to line managers, role-modelling the values of the organisation if values are to influence employee behaviour.

As leaders there is much that we can learn from Mr Obama and Presidents of the past. History suggests that the presidents with the most impressive legacies are those who faced the most pressing problems and overcame them: Abraham Lincoln, elected on the eve of The Civil War, Ronald Regan, who battled double-digit inflation and a freezing Cold War, and, probably most relevant of all in these difficult economic times, Franklin D Roosevelt, re-elected in the teeth of The Great Depression. Mr Roosevelt won, and went on to greatness.

In a tough economy as organisations introduce change initiatives to streamline processes, as employees are being tasked to achieve more with fewer resources, and as demands and pressures increasingly become a burden of anxiety, many organisations are recognising that charismatic leadership is becoming vitally important to building engagement, and to sustain success. In the UK, as in the USA, people recognise and understand that there are tough times ahead. Employees may all understand the need for austerity measures, belt tightening, and even job losses, but at the same time will be feeling anxiety, concern and fear. At a time when so many of us are worried and uncertain about what the future holds, is it any surprise that we are looking for somebody to believe in, somebody who has a clear vision of the better place – somebody to follow.

Last week, in his acceptance speech Mr Obama gave a brilliant demonstration of charismatic leadership at it’s very best. By matching and mirroring the mood and concerns of a Nation he showed great empathy and sensory awareness, and he showed that his values are just the same as ours. He talked about stubbornness and the courage to keep reaching, and in so doing demonstrated high energy and driving force. By his use of the words, belief and hope, and by talking about ‘that something better that awaits us’, he showed America, and The World, that he had that all important vision of the way forward, from austerity to prosperity – from survival to growth.

Yesterday, Remembrance Sunday was the day traditionally put aside to remember all those who have given their lives for the peace and freedom we enjoy today. On this day across the nation people pause to reflect on the sacrifices made by our brave Service men and women. It is a fitting time too to remember what can be achieved, against all odds, when a nation rallies behind a truly charismatic leader;

“We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and the oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

Today and in the days ahead, I would urge you all to think about the people that look to you for direction, and vision and hope. To what extent do they feel that you understand their fears and share their values? What do you do each day to help build their confidence and self-esteem? How would you rate yourself in terms of your role-model behaviour, driving force and charismatic leadership? Would you feel inspired and excited to follow somebody like you?

In The Daily Mail this week Science Correspondent Fiona MacRae reports that scientists have discovered why the heart really does rule the head. According to their research, the part of the brain used for cold, hard analysis is supressed when we hear a sad story…. as long as we are able to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. The US Scientists scanned the brains of 45 young men and women as they solved problems, half of which required them to think about how others feel, whilst the other questions were based on physics. The scans revealed that while the participants were thinking about other people, the empathy network of the brain fired up, overriding the analytical part. The reverse occurred while they were thinking about physics, the journal NeuroImage reported, meaning that it is difficult to empathise and analyse at the same time……

Elsewhere in the press it is reported that Barack Obama returned to the US Election campaign with ‘redoubled intensity’ as a poll in The Washington Post suggested that 8 out of 10 voters believed he had done an ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ job in his handling of Superstorm Sandy, and that this may win him crucial votes. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, yesterday endorsed Mr Obama, saying the events of the past few days had made up his mind.

Back in November 2004, in his blog ‘It’s Charisma, Stupid’, Paul Graham expanded upon the theory that , in US presidential elections, the more charismatic candidate wins. He goes on to say that people who write about politics, whether on the left or right, have a consistent bias: they take politics seriously. When one candidate beats another they look for political explanations, when in fact, Graham suggests, people simply vote for the candidate that seems more dynamic – the one that wants the job more. Looking back over every presidential election since TV became widespread, the apparently more charismatic candidate has won. Graham goes on to observe; Surprising, isn’t it,that voters’ opinions on the issues have lined up with charisma on 11 elections in a row?

Whilst many political commentators would appear to abhor the idea that a contest as important as the US Election could be decided on something as superficial as a candidate’s charismatic presence, I for one choose to believe that factors such as trust, authenticity, and the ability to fire the imagination of a country are all perfectly valid reasons why the more charismatic candidate should prevail. And when you consider the research reported this week in the NeuroImage journal, I have a feeling that most of us would choose to follow the man that we sensed was more able to empathise with us – and think with his heart rather than his head – than we would wish to vote for the man who relied predominantly on cold, hard analysis and logic.

The political arena can teach business leaders a thing or two about the importance of winning the hearts of employees, particularly during difficult economic trading times . Recent research by The University of Lausanne supported further evidence published in Harvard Business Review in June 2012, concluded: “the most effective leaders layer charismatic leadership on top of transactional and instrumental leadership to achieve their goals.”

It was such a wonderfully sunny day on Saturday, one of those days when there is an energy in the air, winter is hinting itself just around the corner, the leaves are beginning to turn, yet the sun shines brightly in a clear blue sky and endless possibilities are made possible. Then Sunday kicks in and winter is back round this way again, the rain pelted down, and a cold wind seems to have arrived blowing in a cloudy sky.

It happens every year so we should be expecting it, the days are becoming shorter, summer clothes are packages away and winter coats are pulled out. I saw the new Boots advert this week. Her come the girls… packing there families up with multi vitamins and warm clothing. For most people, in just a few weeks time, will be traveling to work in the dark and returning home in the dark.

This is a crucial time of year for any business. It’s not easy for anyone to make that change from summer into winter, even more so when it happens over night and we weren’t prepared for it. The changing of the season comes with some magical gifts as we watch the landscape change and we change our emotions too. Seasonal Affective Disorder, will be the topic of conversation in lot’s of offices for the next few months. A depression that affects most people at some point. It is a proven fact that being out in the sunshine gives us a healthy boost.

With the wind and the rain and the cold weather comes low morale, low energy and the hardest thing for any business a drop in performance, a drop in engagement. Those dark mornings and dark nights really do take their toll on everyone. The usual up beat energy of the work place has dipped and now one seems to be able to jump into action like they have been.

This is also one of the best opportunities for the Charismatic Leadership team in any organisation to spring into action themselves and engage with each and every person, bringing up the energy levels and increasing performance. What a great opportunity it is, keeping that energy through the winter will make your business stand out. Customers will be engaged with your employees and you will begin to spread that energy.

When we work from our own personal point of power to be a truly authentic self then we have reached that state of Charisma that wins the hearts and minds of each and every person around us. They not only follow, but want and need to follow. Your purpose becomes the collective purpose and performance increases as a result of this. Each and every person in the business engages not only with the leadership team but also with each other, performance increases, absenteeism reduces and each an every person lives a happier and healthier personal and professional lifestyle.
So now is the time to brighten your business, spread a little sunshine and engage with everyone so that they too can spread a little sunshine through the cold dark nights.

London 2012 Paralympic Closing Ceremony

As we start our run up to this weeks An Audience with Charisma on Thursday and Friday at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, we can feel that the energy is electric, there is a buzz in the air that cannot be beaten, not even the buzz of two weeks ago as we closed the 2012 Olympic games. This is the closing ceremony to the London 2012 Paralympic Games, it’s emotional, it’s exciting and it is bar far one of the proudest moments to watch and be part of that we have in recent history.

There has been much talk about the Paralympians and the caliber of athlete that we have seen in the past two weeks. Short to tall, missing limbs, walking and rolling each and every one has proved what it takes to truly succeed. opinions and attitude towards disabled people have taken a huge step forward showing nations that being Dis-abled is much more about ability than dis-ability.

It is truly amazing to hear the stories of those that have travelled long emotional journeys to get to the place where they are competing. It is these stories that show us just how much human nature can take us on to do great things. It can also highlight that human nature can lead us down a path of possible defeat. Our Paralympians show us exactly what is needed and how strong we can be when faced with adversity. We all have barriers that can hold us back, it is the way that we deal with them and move forward that counts.

listening to each and every Paralympian, and Olympians for that matter, talk about the driving force that feel deep within to move forward and succeed can only be a lesson to everyone. In sports this driving force, this pure ambition to succeed is called being in”The Zone”, the place they go to as they prepare and make their aim on winning gold. In business we call this engagement. Leaders engaging with their team, businesses engaging with the workforce and everyone engaging internally and externally to build a business that can only be successful.

It is this strong driving force, the passion of a business that shines through for everyone to see and makes people want to do business with you. The Charisma of an organisation doesn’t just lead to success it is success. Research shows that organisations with over 74% engagement have double digit growth in place. Those that are below 63% engagement have stopped growing and may even be in a protection mindset. This can lead to dis-engagement, absenteeism and loosing the all important talent of the organisation.

One of the main reasons why London won the 2012 Olympic bid was the legacy plans it made to take the Olympic games and sports past these four weeks and into the lives of everyone for a long time to come. The excitement and buzz of the games can be felt across the nation and the world. The buzz that beats at the heart of every organisation is the same. The question that remains is this; what legacy will is there in the organisation you work within? Will it be one of Charisma, engagement and the thrill of success or will it be protection and dis-engagement.

London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony

What an amazing seventeen days it has been. If like me, and 23 million others in the UK alone, you were watching the closing ceremony of the 30th Olympic games London 2012 you will hopefully still be feeling the buzz of such an excellent night. London stood up at the end of such an eventful games and took a well deserved bow and showed the world how Great Britain really is. Each and every element that brought together such an energy fueled night had Charisma stamped all over it. From the start, showcasing new talent right through to bring back some of our most Charismatic Icons of the past, it was a show to end a games that will never be forgotten.

A shinning star Clare Balding proved herself every bit the Charisma icon she has become during the games and was out and about interviewing volunteers who had supported the games. Clare Balding has really shone during her Olympic coverage, adding her character and passion each and every time we have seen her. There was no lack of it on Sunday as she spoke to several people about what it has been like to be part of the games. It was amazing to hear the volunteers talk about the energy that was created, that everyone of the 70,000 volunteers felt every bit a part of the games as the athletes did. At the elite level of sport that has been showcased in the past seventeen days there is no such thing as individuals. Every sportsperson taking part did so as a product of a team, a global team of sports people, volunteers, organisers, security and the world. A Charisma Nation ensured that these games would not be forgotten and a global driving force took them forward.

The Olympic games has given us a context to make parallels to how we all strive to be better and achieve more. Businesses the world over are aiming higher by believing in a plan and developing a culture where everyone succeeds. In sports it is quite transparent, every action is precise and clear. In business it is maybe not so clear, so what can we learn from the sports field?

Organisations need to design and build clarity and then deliver that to everyone. The quickest and most successful way to do this is to develop the charismatic potential of the leadership team. Those Leadership teams that are successful draw upon the same internal navigation system than that of top sportspeople. Having a clear vision, knowing what they want to achieve and being able to showcase that. A strong driving force will take that vision and engage everyone as part of it. Developing engagement in an organisation is developing followship for every leader. Once you have engaged then you create an energy that everyone continues to be part of. They take the goals of the organisation and make them their own.

The the mind is more powerful than actions alone. I realised a long time ago the value of what the mind can do. As sportspeople see themselves crossing the finish line, scoring a goal or jumping a hurdle then so do successful organisations. Work ethic, dedication, dealing with adversity, collaboration and empowerment are just part of the mix in a highly engaged and successful workforce. Hay group have recently reported on research that shows engagement in organisations has begun to stagnate at 63% and only the most successful organisations can boast over 74% engagement.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games not only managed to deliver high levels of engagement across a mix of 70,000 volunteers and countless workers they also managed to deliver engagement across a nation. The much talked about legacy of the London 2012 Olympic games will not just be seen in our future Olympians but it will be seen as businesses learn from the success and take those learnings forward. The energy created during the games, This Charisma Nation, will live long and business success will take home as many golds.