Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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How Can Leaders Develop Charisma and Become More Interesting?


The media is full of people who seem interesting. Their lives look glamorous, and they just seem to light up rooms whenever they show up. As leaders, we are often expected to show up at business conferences, conventions, and business meetings and be interesting and charismatic. This may be a struggle if we are a natural introvert, overwhelmed with things on our to-do lists, and preoccupied with trying to figure out what to do next.

The truth is that most conversations are superficial. Why? People are afraid of being controversial. People want to fit in. However, the most interesting people are those that embrace their uniqueness and know how to use it.

For those of us who just want to be more fun, now that we are getting back to work and being around other people, here are some ideas:

1.Travel. People who travel and experience new places are interesting. You may not have the vacation time or the funds to cover the globe, but you probably can afford one big adventure every couple of years if you make it a priority.

2.Have an interesting hobby. Explore activities that are a little different. Study fencing and enter competitions. Participate in long-range rifle shooting. Kayak. Breed llamas. Do something fun and out of the norm. You will not generate a lot of interest from others while discussing your favorite television show or your dog’s latest antic, unless it is from other people who share that interest.
I have dogs. Yes, I think they are cute. Yes, I actually do want to see pictures of your dogs, cats, horses, gerbils, turtles, parrots, ferrets, and any other animal you care for. Tag me on your social media so I can tell you how adorable your pets are!

3.Take an interest in others. We find others interesting when they find us interesting. People generally enjoy talking about themselves, so show a genuine interest in other people. Ask relevant questions. We all want attention. Give people attention about what matters to them, and you might receive some attention back.

4.Be confident. People who are confident instill confidence in others. We feel more at ease when we are around someone who is comfortable with themselves. Developing self-confidence helps others enjoy being around you. At the other end of the spectrum, when you are nervous or uncomfortable, you make others feel the same.

5.Be a good listener. Give others your full attention. Be an active listener and keep the conversation going. Look at them when they talk. You can be considered a great conversationalist without saying much at all if you actively listen to others.

6.Have a couple of entertaining stories to share. Be prepared with a few interesting facts or stories. Talk show hosts and stand-up comics are always prepared. Have a few good stories to share and practice telling them. People tend to like short, entertaining stories.

7.Be childlike. That is childlike, not childish. When you are enthusiastic, you bring out the same in others. Everyone wants to experience childlike joy and enthusiasm for the moment they are in.

8.Find the positive. Life is not all rainbows, sparkles and unicorns all the time. We get curveballs. Tragic events happen. People struggle. Some people respond to even the smallest inconveniences with constant complaining. That is exhausting for the people around them. Staying positive throughout difficult events demonstrates a strong character and builds resiliency.

9.Raise your eyebrows. I recently watched the incomparable, motivating, and very funny Michael Hoffman – perform for a group of extremely focused businesspeople. While not minimizing the seriousness of what the audience does, Michael reminded us of all to raise our eyebrows. And smile. A welcoming smile is irreplaceable. Happy people are more interesting that those who are not. Wherever you are, be genuinely happy to be there and show it.



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