Atmosphere 4: Charisma

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Robert Brooks
  • 99th Air Base Wing Command Chief
The Command Chief's 12 Atmospheres are designed to focus on simple concepts that sometimes get lost from increased ops-tempo and proliferation of typical jargon. Leaders at every level are encouraged to incorporate the monthly focus by whatever means they deem fit, but keeping with a very casual, if not fun inception. Each month a corresponding short video will air on the Commander's Access Channel, Chiefs Corner Web site and commander's calls as requested.

On March 17, we celebrate St. Patrick's Day. I have a very positive association with this event because the most charismatic person I've ever known is Irish and whom I've shared more than a couple St. Paddy's with. For more on that, see the March Atmosphere video.

John C. Maxwell makes Charisma #2 of his "21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader." I'm sure one can be successful without this trait, but I wonder what life would be like if everyone practiced a more charismatic disposition.

Consider for a moment the people in your life you most enjoy being around. In my life, they are not negative or cynical; rather, they are upbeat and supportive. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest nobody truly enjoys or is emotionally elevated by cynical company.

There are so many reasons to be stressed, tired or otherwise disgruntled in this day and age that I, for one, don't need any help with that. An upbeat spirit or positive word is an injection of energy to me. I only hope that I am able to be that injection to others.

Having not been born into charisma, it's something I work on with sincerity. Sincerity is key as we all know those who can "work the room" but have little interest in the well being of others. I think sincerity is most easily viewed through willingness to reveal one's true self. The admission of vulnerability is not only endearing to others, but reveals a true willingness of companionship and trust. Consider sharing yourself with others in a genuine way, making every effort to do so in a positive way. John C. Maxwell says it this way: "Think about how you can add value to people in your life this year (this month for our purpose). They can be family members, co-workers, colleagues or friends. Provide resources to help them grow personally and professionally, and share your personal journey with them."

Certainly charisma, in practice, can further a darker cause, as in the case of Adolph Hitler, Jim Jones and David Koresh. However, in those instances the charisma was energized to focus on the giver rather than the receiver. It was said by a young Brit that a negative charismatic will leave you feeling he is the cleverest man around, whereas a positive charismatic will leave you feeling that you are the cleverest person. Both can be infinitely successful in their venture.

In speaking engagements I often allude to the Pygmalion effect. Simply put, this is the idea that if you treat others as average or substandard, you will receive exactly that level of performance from them. Conversely, if you can convince people they are superior by accentuating the positive, they will become great. In my estimation, this is the single most significant reason charisma is associated with leadership. Positive proliferation nets peak performance.

As I began this introspection, I asked you to consider those you most enjoy being around. How many people do you suppose thought of you? Were any of them your co-workers or subordinates? Do you genuinely invest positively in the life of others? I know I can do better, maybe you can too.

By all counts St. Patrick's Day is a jovial time so accept the challenge with me to make it more than just a day, but make it a month ... perhaps even more! Green beer aside, take a page from Ireland's patron saint. Through positive charismatic disposition he changed a nation, and his spirit of good will is celebrated centuries later.