Inclusion and consensus-building are vital in gaining attributions of charisma and developing followers. Followers in the workplace are people who subscribe to your vision; who will invest energy, patience, trust, emotion and dedication in you and your goals. Emotional attachment to your vision and supporting values is essential if you want people to work as a team towards the missions you establish.
Charisma and influence are the result of quid pro quo's. In discovering the values and needs of your stakeholders, your part of the bargain is to do unto them as they would be done unto. You do unto "them" by establishing congruence between their needs and aspirations and your mission; by finding ways to share high-order values; by respecting individual differences you encounter, and linking beliefs and interests with your activities and goals. Your stakeholders' response will be greater emotional and motivational arousal, higher self-esteem, more cohesion and greater confidence in you.
Successful dialogue meets four fundamental tenets of effective communication:
2) emotional affiliation
3) 'live' evidence
4) common ground and shared benefits
The first issue you can choose to reflect deeply on when seeking to get people on board is that of credibility. Your own standing with individuals, groups, and audiences marks the initial barrier to be overcome.
Credibility is paradoxically both durable and fragile. It requires constant nurturing during the dialogue phase, particularly in the workplace. Once earned and maintained it can usually withstand the occasional expression of human frailty.
Many leaders, managers, and public figures imagine they enjoy greater credibility than they actually do. They often assume that position and authority is all that's required in shifting opinion, motivating people, and getting others to do what they want.
As any reputable leadership tome will tell you, the 'Pharaoh' era of getting results or attitude change through naked power and proclamation is long dead. And yet, the corporate world and public life are teeming with latter day Tut's and Cleo's who imagine they can shape people's opinions and behaviours with a wave of their royal sceptres and threats of public executions.
Today, authority and credibility do not come with the leadership territory. The trend in most of the western world over the last three decades is that of distrust towards, and challenge of, authority. If you want people to follow your wishes in the twenty-first century, you may like to choose the leadership tools and language of today in place of the quaint relics of the past.
Credibility maintenance at close quarters, such as the workplace or within smaller groups where contact is ongoing, is in essence no different to that of public credibility. It is earned from two principal sources.
Firstly, if you have established a reputation of competency or knowledge in a particular field, your colleagues or listeners will generally endow you with an appropriate degree of credibility within that specialist field.
Looking the part and mirroring sameness are also important factors in establishing credibility. But, an essential element in both workplace and public credibility is continuous maintenance. Personal credibility is a quality that must be ceaselessly affirmed.
Secondly, if you have demonstrated over time that you can be trusted to serve mutual interests over personal interests, your personal credibility will be higher. If you're generally considered to be a person who doesn't close the door on your morality and ethics when you leave home for work, you will have a significant persuasion advantage.
Professional ability and work-based relationships are key factors in credibility in the workplace, whereas appearance and demonstrations of expertise are important to public credibility. In mapping out a workplace or public persuasion plan, the issues of professional expertise and personal relationships form a critical part of any strategy.
You would be well advised to evaluate your ratings in both categories prior to embarking on any major persuasion undertaking. The questions you need to answer as objectively as you can are as follows:
1) What are my target audience's perceptions about my knowledge and track record in the area in which I will seek to influence them?
2) Is my expertise acknowledged and accepted?
3) What other sources of knowledge and expertise can I reference and apply to enhance the credibility of my proposal, strategy, idea, etc.?
4) Who else can I recruit to enrich the credibility of my idea, project, etc.?
1) Does my target audience trust me? Have I shown trustworthiness over time?
2) Do those I'm seeking to persuade view me as someone who shares kudos with them?
3) Do they view me as one of them and one who listens to them?
4) Am I in political accord with the group on this issue?
5) Am I in tune with them intellectually and emotionally
Workplace persuasion often goes awry when inexperienced managers seek to use the force of their position to effect change without attending to the above elements. Public and work-based credibility can be monitored and managed, and is the end result of what you are, what you say, and what you do.
If you desire to be a person of high credibility in the eyes of others, you can choose to conform your words and deeds to templates of trustworthiness embraced by your target audience.
(c) Desmond Guilfoyle 2004 - 2006
Desmond Guilfoyle in an award winning commentator on influence, persuasion and charisma. He has written three books on those subjects and his book 'The Charisma Effect' has been published in seven languages around the globe. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org More articles are avilable through his blog at http:/charismacom.blogspot.com/