This is Part 2 of my review of D. A. Benton’s Executive Charisma: Six Steps to Mastering the Art of Leadership. Part 1 is here.
Benton has enumerated “The Sacred Six” components of Executive Charisma:
1. Be the first to initiate
2. Expect and give acceptance to maintain self-esteem
3. Ask questions, and ask favors
4. Stand tall, straight, and smile
5. Be human, humorous, and hands on
6. Slow down, shut up and listen
A few personal reactions to her concepts follow.
Be the first to initiate
In my acquaintance with successful people, this was probably the very greatest difference between them and a typical person. I would go so far as to say that the more often you initiate, and the more significant the goals, the greater chance you will have in personal success. Successful people think in terms of big dreams. They go where they have to go, meet the people they have to meet, and take continuous action in the direction of their goals. They do not wait for others to approve. If they move one inch ahead of the pack every day, because of a propensity to initiate, that adds up to miles ahead over the years.
Be human, humorous, and hands-on
There were two or three great leaders I enjoyed being around in a crisis. They always knew how to lighten the emotional burden when things got tough. They never took a situation, or themselves, too seriously. By behaving in this way, they drew good people around them. Since people enjoyed their company, they got good advice, good mentoring, advance information that was helpful to the business, and, of course, were able to bring in a lot of business. Now, being an enjoyable person does not mean they were not, to use the rest of Benton’s phrase, “hands-on”. I remember several instances in my career as a music arranger and producer, when extremely high-ranking executives would work with me well into the night (or the next morning!!!) on a project, adjusting it down to the very finest details. These people were truly gifted: they are as hard-working as they were likable, and these qualities brought them outstanding (and much-deserved) success.
Expect and give acceptance to maintain self-esteem
I suspect that this point is the “secret ingredient” that underlies the success of so many truly outstanding people. In my work with some top people, I never felt I was being demeaned as a person, even if my work was being criticized. Also, I am astounded at how often these highly successful people used praise to initiate a meeting, and how often I was treated as a knowledgeable expert first, and as part of a results-oriented project second.. Not that I wasn’t an expert, but these people went out of their way to “put me in the room”. At the table. They knew that they needed great input from everyone around them, and the only way to get it was to make them feel comfortable, and on an equal footing.
The rest of Benton’s “Sacred Six” are equally important. Her book is loaded with examples and “how-to’s”. As I often do with inspiring books, I took the time to make an outline of the whole book so that I can refer to it easily in the future. And, speaking of the future, if you want to have one in business or in life, you should read this book.