“Going with the Gut” – or Sensing Your Charisma?


(This was published on LinkedIn Sep 18, 2015)

Now that my colleagues at the Financial Times have made the topic semi-official, it’s time to recognize just how many senior executive decisions are based on intuition, rather than empirical data.

A Sept 10th FT report by Maxine Boersma cited a survey from PA Consulting which found 69 percent of CEOs preferred to use their intuition and experience to build teams, rather than “empirical” recruitment data from their Human Resources departments.

Let’s analyse what’s really happening when an executive lays your CV down on the table, reaches out a hand and says: “I’m going to go with my gut: you’re hired.”

The same mechanism is at work at a pitch meeting when, all things being equal between project providers X and Y, the CEO turns to Y and says: “I’m going with my hunch; we’ll take a chance on you.”

References to “intuition,” “hunch” and “gut” suggests the process is being driven by the recruiter or the CEO. Mostly though, it’s exactly the other way around. What the CEO should really be saying to his new recruit or new contractor is: “You have just taken over my brain, and I’m so influenced by you I’m going to change my mind in your favour.”

So what is the potential recruit doing that’s so effective in subverting both the HR department and the CEO’s decision-making process? It’s a very special communication skill that works beyond the cognitive processes of persuasion and argument. We call it charisma, the power to influence others by creating the instant rapport that lowers barriers of mistrust and causes interlocutors to behave in ways they otherwise would not have done.

In fact, many decisions aren’t made in the gut at all: they’re the product of charisma. It’s a mistake to consider charisma as being unique to TV personalities, celebrities and politicians.

It is all around us and those who master this life success factor can fast-track themselves into positions of influence, all the while leaving their sponsors – such as those CEOs – with a warm and fuzzy feeling. In fact charisma is a feedback mechanism that’s only detectable when people exposed to it start changing their behaviour.

Many people have tried to build artificial skills using cookie-cutter ‘charisma leadership tactics.’ They don’t work. Charisma is all about authenticity, and that means revealing and building on inner resources.

Everyone has charisma. A lucky few have instinctively learned how to deploy the communications mastery that makes them stand out. The rest of us must learn. This calls for an intellectually-rigorous method to map, measure and then manage personal charisma assets in a responsible way as part of our continuing professional development.

Communicate Charisma is a robust new methodology for coaches, trainers and leadership professionals that does exactly this. A simple online self-assessment test creates a detailed report that reveals communication strengths and weaknesses. Visually-intuitive mapping  (you’ll see an image at the top of this page) creates a clear baseline that executives and leaders everywhere can use for their  ongoing personal development.

You can find out more about the charisma profiles of “Great Communicators” we’ve assembled, and how to take the self-assessment test.

If you’re an executive who’s been through business school, then mastering data analysis and empirical arguments has certainly brought you a long way. Now wouldn’t you like to learn how to influence those around you in more subtle ways, so they keep on “going with their gut” to extend the opportunities and success available to you?

(This was published on LinkedIn Sep 18, 2015)

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