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Charismatic leaders make others want to embrace their vision and adopt it as their own.  It is this ability to create a truly shared vision that makes the charismatic leader so appealing to so many people – this is how charismatic leaders achieve the high levels of employee engagement that drive their superior results.

Charismatic leaders personalize their vision

In the last post we discussed how charismatic leaders do two things to make their visions appealing to the people who work for them and dramatically increase employee engagement:

  1. They make the work involved important and inspiring – they create a genuine sense of mission
  2. They answer the all important question: “What’s In It For Me?” (WIIFM)

Halfway there

We’ve already looked at how the charismatic vision is simply the corporate vision interpreted in such a way that for each member of your team there is the almost spiritual payoff coming from the feeling that one is working towards to something greater than themselves and their everyday concerns.

But charismatic leaders also the more personal and practical payoff for their people that comes from answering the WIIFM question.  As a charismatic leader you must customize the overall vision so that each and every member of your team sees specifically what making it come to pass will mean to them personally – assuring them that helping you to achieve yours will help them to achieve theirs.

“We have one supervisor for every 80 people. I can’t know 7,000 people.

But I tell the supervisors ‘you can know 80 people. You can know who they’re married to, you can know who their kids are, what their challenges are’.

They know we will deal with their issues, make them feel like there is a personal touch at the company.”

David Neeleman, charismatic founder of Jetblue Airlines

Personalizing Your Vision

To personalize your vision in this manner you need to know more about your people; at the very least:

  • What are their particular personal strengths – and how can you employ those strengths in a way that dramatically bolsters their self-esteem and sense of contribution? How will working toward your vision help them to become even better in their areas of strength?
  • What are their  professional development needs – and how can you help them to overcome any challenges they have in their skill set or abilities? How can you help them to become all they are capable of becoming?
  • What are their personal goals – both inside and outside the organization? What do they want to achieve in their lives? Where do they want their careers to take them? How can your vision help them to make theirs come to pass?
  • How do they define success? Until you know each of your direct reports’ definition of success is then you cannot help them to achieve it. You must know what is important to them. What will make them feel like they have really achieved? It’s not the same for all people.
  • What are their family circumstances – and how does that affect their priorities? How can you harness your vision to give them a picture of a better future for them and their families and loved ones?
  • What are their greatest interests: what motivates them? Are they doing what they would really passionately like to be doing? If so, how would success in making your vision a reality help them to get even more from their work? If not, how will helping you to realize your result in them doing what they’d are passionate about doing? Can you craft a career for them that they could not get elsewhere?
  • What can you they learn from you as they work with you on achieving your vision? How will your coaching and mentoring along the way set them up to more effectively target their life’s goals? What do you know that they’d like to know – and how can you help them to learn from you?

The primary way for you to uncover what you need to know about each of your people is one-to-one coaching, conversation and interaction.   Spend sufficient time with each and every one of your people, on an ongoing basis, that you get to know their concerns as well as your own.  Just being seen to have enough interest to learn what you need to know to do this will make you more charismatic – you are already starting to have more appeal.

But then go one step further.  Use this knowledge it to ensure that when you get what you want they get what they want – ensure it’s a genuine win-win.  Then, any time you talk about your vision, you’ll be talking about theirs too – and when you talk af what you want and need from them to help the organization succeed they’ll hear WIIFM.

So, you want to inspire your people to the level of employee engagement you need from them to assure the dedication and productivity required in making your vision come to pass?  Then, in brief, create a vision that both gives their work a sense of meaning and mission – and ensures that when you benefit from a successful outcome then so do they.

That’s practical, productive Leadership Charisma.


What’s the best way to get to know your people better than they know themselves?

Use ‘Comments’ to share your best practices