Hospitality Leadership Solutions Series: Embrace Charisma, Not Stoicism

/Hospitality Leadership Solutions Series: Embrace Charisma, Not Stoicism

Hospitality Leadership Solutions Series: Embrace Charisma, Not Stoicism

|2018-10-19T12:44:08-04:00October 19th, 2018|

By: James Houran, Ph.D., Dallas | Keith Kefgen, New York

Noted hospitality thought leaders and corporate governance/ performance management experts Kefgen and “Dr. Jim” share common management challenges while providing time-tested, field-tested or just simple “quick-fix” ideas to keep professionals inspired, effective and successful.

Some of the most memorable and effective mid-managers and senior executives utilize leadership charisma to bolster their personal brands, build alliances, gain buy-in from team members and maximize their influence internally and externally to their organizations. But some of the most charismatic leaders have used these skills to wreak havoc. Think of Charles Manson, Adolf Hitler and David Koresh, to name a few. Today, many leadership pundits promote a style of “servant leadership” and empathy that better serves leaders in a modern world. In “Good to Great,” author James Collins calls it Level 5 Leadership. But all too often the “command-and-control” management style still dominates in many workplaces.

This more transactional and authoritative approach is both outdated and counterproductive in today’s organizational environments. Aspiring leaders are encouraged to reject such management styles that undermine collaboration, flexibility, inspiration and humility. Rather, we encourage others to seize the myriad benefits linked to genuine leadership charisma. Learning, practicing and embodying three specific attitudes or behavioural principles will help to get you there because they provide a tactical definition of what leadership charisma means in practice. They seem simple in principle but can be difficult to exhibit consistently without some conscious effort.

Be mindful of and practice three core attitudes in your interactions up and down the organizational chart and with external stakeholders:

  • Attitude 1: Be engaged with those in front of you. The term “engagement” has somewhat staled, but here it means showing genuine interest in the success of the organization and individual team members. To clarify, interested and engaged people do not multitask, fidget with their smartphones or otherwise dilute their attention and participation during interactions and meetings. Instead, engaged leaders actively listen, proactively comment on others’ contributions and offer constructive feedback or insights to others’ questions.
  • Attitude 2: Be solution-focused with those relying on you. Naysaying is easy to do—but undoing its often ugly and lingering effects is not. Using language and framing your contributions and feedback in constructive and supportive terms typically has a “charismatic effect” on others. People like, respect and gravitate toward those who help to build momentum for success versus slowing it down.
  • Attitude 3: Be relatable with those around you. People want to be heard and understood, but active listening itself is not always enough. Leaders must communicate and interact in ways that best match the target audience. Showing humility, spontaneity and openness equates to being relatable. And constituents bestow credibility and trust to those with whom they can relate.

Leadership charisma does not mean being “larger than life,” a “dynamic speaker,” or having a strong “executive presence.” Rather, leaders fundamentally stand out in their ability to focus on others and not on themselves. This “service to others” is at the core of genuine charisma—it is inspirational in its message and its ability to bring people together to realize a common goal and share in that success. Charisma coupled with substance and empathy is a very powerful tool.

This article was originally published in Hotel Management.

About James Houran

“Dr. Jim” Houran is a 20-year veteran in applied psychological research and a published expert on peak performance, online testing and interpersonal and organizational compatibility. He has authored over 100 articles, and his award-winning work has been profiled by a myriad of media outlets and programs including the Discovery Channel, A&E, BBC, National Geographic, NBC’s Today Show, USA Today, New Scientist, Psychology Today and Forbes.com. He remains a member of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International and the American Hotel and Lodging Association, and serves as Research Professor in the Psychometrics and Statistics Laboratory at the Lusofona University of Humanities and Technologies (Lisbon, Portugal).

jhouran@aethoscg.com /

About Keith Kefgen

With nearly 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Keith is a career hospitality executive. Having graduated from the Cornell University Hotel School, he went on to work at Waldorf=Astoria Hotel before embarking upon a career in hospitality executive search. He was the CEO & founder of HVS Executive Search before joining AETHOS Consulting Group. A frequent lecturer on industry related issues, Keith has written more than 100 articles on the topics of executive selection, pay-for-performance, corporate governance and executive leadership. He is currently writing his first book, The Loneliness of Leadership.

kkefgen@aethoscg.com/

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