How the technology revolution is driving a leadership revolution

In his latest and (in my opinion) most valuable book, Charismatic Leadership: The Skills You Can Learn to Motivate High Performance in Others, Kevin Murray shares his thoughts about several issues of special interest to all leaders as well as to those who aspire to become one.

Opinions are divided — sometimes sharply divided — about the importance of charisma to effective leadership. Here’s what Kevin thinks.

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As the technology revolution forces us to rethink the role of humans in the workplace, we need a new kind a leader for this new age of rapid change,.

Employees at every level in companies will have to become more adept at change, and that means being willing to learn, and relearn, and discover and learn over and over again, as the world keeps evolving around them. Leaders will need to have the right skills to enable and encourage this change. They will need to promote creativity and innovation at a pace never achieved before. 

This technology revolution is going to force us to fundamentally rethink the role of humans in the workplace and enable them to move into a territory that robots can’t occupy – creativity. This is where humans will focus – creating new value – given that robots will take the drudgery out of daily work and give them the tools and space to be more creative. 

First and foremost, this requires managers to design and implement actions aimed at boosting their team’s motivation and engagement. Managers must have the skills to handle this pace of change, especially when they may have to lead people who don’t work in the same office or the same country or even necessarily on the same day. 

At a time when they will be facing unprecedented pressure to perform, to become simultaneously more cost-effective and more innovative, while dealing with huge levels of uncertainty and complexity, managers will have to put themselves between the chaos of change and their people. 

To do so effectively, will require managers to ensure they are skilled in the five key traits of charisma.

In my research for my new book, “Charismatic Leadership”, I have found that there are many kinds of charisma, many different definitions of charisma, and many different ways that each of us can display charisma. And that’s part of the problem. For many of us, charisma seems somehow unattainable – gifted to a few lucky people who have it naturally in abundance. 

Not so. I believe charisma lies within all of us – and all we need to do to be more charismatic and influential is to understand and learn the skills that will make us far more inspiring.

My research says that charismatic people have five traits that make them charismatic. 

They are:

• authenticity; 
• personal power; 
• warmth; 
• drive; and 
• persuasiveness. 

It doesn’t matter how many people a manger has to lead – whether it is a small team to a large organisation — their charisma will have a huge influence on the results they deliver.

Managers today need charisma more than ever. And managers hiring or promoting people to become managers need to be especially mindful of what they are looking for.

1. Managers with authentic personalities – because they will be able to build the levels of trust that are essential to good teamwork and collaboration. Without teamwork and collaboration, there can be little innovation. Without innovation, companies will quickly fall behind their competitors. 
2. Managers with the right personal power – who can infuse their teams with positivity and confidence and will be oriented to action. They will be problem-solvers able to call on the diverse skills and viewpoints of their team members to create the best solutions. 
3. Managers with a warm and engaging presence – who will be able to create a sense of worth and belonging, at a time of huge uncertainty. Most importantly they will also be able to make employees feel safe at a time of enormous disruption. Having a sense of worth, is one of the most important needs of employees and drives high levels of discretionary effort. 
4. Managers who are able to convey a compelling purpose and connect their teams to it – people who will keep their employees relentlessly focused on customers, and thus focused on rapid and continuous improvement. 
5. Managers with the charismatic skill of persuasiveness – who will connect people to the cause and their communication skills will enable the conversations that will drive new ideas and keep essential relationships in good order. 

These soft skills of charisma will determine a manager’ssuccess in business, more so than the technical skills that probably got them into a leadership position in the first place.

Note: Research conducted among Fortune 500 CEOs by the Stanford Research Institute International and the Carnegie Melon Foundation found that 75 per cent of long-term job success depends on people skills, while only 25 per cent on technical knowledge.

In an era of unprecedented disruption and change, we’ve never needed charismatic leaders more.

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Kevin Murray is a business author and speaker with more than 45 years of leadership experience, based in the UK. He ran the UK’s biggest PR and communications group for 20 years, from where he also personally advised dozens of CEOs from major global and national companies. Previously, he had been director of communications for British Airways, The Atomic Energy Authority and Bayer, the chemicals company. Kevin is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute. His four business books are all published by Kogan Page: The Language of Leaders; Communicate to Inspire; People with Purpose; and most recently, Charismatic Leadership.

Here is a direct link to my review of Charismatic Leadership.



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