We got this interesting and insightful email from Nikki Owen, a leading expert on charisma who we have worked with in the past. It clearly shows just how important body language is when you are trying to influence people, and just how much it can reveal about you that is sensed subconsciously by those you are trying to influence. Whether you are a sales professional, a leader, or a politician, your body language is key to how you are perceived…. and impacts your ability to influence.
Check out what Nikki makes of the Labour leadership contenders below. It will be fascinating to see if she is right!
Labour Leadership Contest And The Charisma Factor
The voting process for Labour’s leadership contest will close on the day that my book, Charismatic to the Core is released on Thursday 10 September 2015. There is no such thing as coincidence so I felt compelled to look at the impact of charisma on political election success. Four candidates were successfully nominated to stand in the election: Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall.
In his blog It’s Charisma, Stupid, Paul Graham, US political commentator has a theory that in US presidential elections, the more charismatic candidate wins. He states that people who write about politics, whether on the left or right, have a consistent bias: they take politics seriously. When one candidate beats another they look for political explanations, when in fact, people simply vote for the candidate that seems more dynamic – the one that wants the job more. Looking back over every presidential election since TV became widespread, the apparently more charismatic candidate has won.
Graham goes on to observe that voters’ opinions on political issues have lined up with charisma on 11 elections in a row. Whilst many political commentators would appear to abhor the idea that a contest as important as the US election could be decided on something as ‘superficial’ as a candidate’s charismatic presence, I for one choose to believe that factors such as trust, authenticity, and the ability to fire the imagination of a country are all perfectly valid reasons why the more charismatic candidate should prevail. Most of us would choose to follow a leader that we sensed was more able to empathise with us – and communicate from their heart rather than their head – rather than rely on cold, hard analysis and logic.
Research by The University of Lausanne and published in Harvard Business Review in June 2012, concluded: ‘the most effective leaders layer charismatic leadership on top of transactional and instrumental leadership to achieve their goals.’
So here are my thoughts and observations on how the four Labour candidates are shaping up on the charisma front. I have ignored the content and policies communicated during their speeches and interviews and instead have focused simply on their charisma, based on their physical presence, what I’ve noticed about their physical body and their energy.
Andy’s head juts out in front of his body indicating his focus and drive. His energy conveys that he is very ambitious and a man with a clear vision. His calm and measured style of delivery is diluted by some insecurity that I feel is down to a need to convey that he is the man for the job rather than his belief in himself. By trying to get it right he loses some of his earthy authenticity.
I find myself liking this man. Many of his words used in his ‘Andy4labour’ speech are heart and emotion orientated and my sense is that he is naturally a little more logically orientated so some of his speech seems a little incongruent particularly towards the end.
Apart from some subtle swaying he is centred and there is an aura of trust and plausibility about him. Everything about him says that he is a ‘safe pair of hands’. Yet I find myself wondering about his ability to inspire and arouse the level of followship needed to lead Labour to victory in the next general election. My suggestion to Andy is to let go of some of the mental constraints he is imposing upon himself and just accept that when he is being himself he is much more inspirational.
Yvette’s passion is evident and she thinks at a supersonic speed. She breaths from her upper chest which enables her to talk very quickly. Her intensity could be intimidating for some people but she softens this by being very emotionally connected and is able to build rapport well. I sense that Yvette has high levels of anger and frustration. Her eye contact is incisive and I’ve noticed she sometimes suffers from an outbreak of spots, (spots from a metaphysical perspective suggest ‘anger erupting’).
The left side of the brain is more logical and denotes masculine energy and operates the right side of the body. Yvette’s right shoulder is raised slightly higher than her left shoulder indicating that being female in a male dominated environment has been challenging. She appears sharp, fiery and passionate with a steely determination. She blends these strong attributes with techniques to build empathy.
I find myself feeling inspired by Yvette, she stirs my emotions. Sometimes when she is doing her ’empathy’ piece I feel she is not being completely genuine. My tip for Yvette to help her with this, is to pay a bit more attention to her breathing and take deeper breaths before her appearances. This will naturally build her sensory awareness and connectedness with others.
What you see is what you get with Jeremy. This man is utterly authentic and the idea that he would do anything just to please voters is a ludicrous notion. His eyes hold the same intensity as Yvette Cooper’s eyes and to me they convey that injustice causes a deep rage within him. Jeremy speaks the truth he feels in his heart. Being true to himself is such a part of his character that he has become used to other people’s intolerances and judgements.
Look at his shoulders and you can see that his responsibilities weigh on him heavily. His shoulders are tense and his metaphorical burdens have pushed his head forwards. This man is resilient, tough and uncompromising yet he has a surprising level of sensitivity that is an unusual combination and very compelling.
There is an aura of sadness, old sadness, around him as if he hasn’t come to terms with the way he sees political injustice played out around the world. When he speaks in public to large groups he stirs emotion because he speaks freely and openly without constrain from his heart. I completely understand why this man has become a forerunner in this election contest.
I imagine that Jeremy doesn’t really do collaboration if it means compromising his beliefs and views. This man is like Marmite, people will either love or hate him. My suggestion to Jeremy is a bit strange. I believe that he would benefit from some type of daily meditation that will help him to remain more detached when exposed to opposing viewpoints so he is better equipped to build rather than sabotage bridges with those not aligned with his own political views.
I personally find Liz uncomfortable to watch. She appears vulnerable due to her very shallow breathing. This creates an energy of anxiety and her voice lacks resonance and consequently she lacks gravitas. She compensates these inner insecurities by being overly forceful and a bit patronising at times. She uses too much rhetoric and is more focused on making her point rather that listening to or fully appreciating the question. She is clearly very articulate and bright yet she has not yet attained a sense of being comfortable in her own skin in front of a camera.
There is a heaviness under her eyes. This is where the stomach meridian is located and we usually hold anxiety and old fear in our stomach area. I have not viewed any footage of Liz where she appears relaxed and comfortable. Consequently anyone watching Liz is likely to struggle to feel relaxed and comfortable. Maybe this is the reason why most of her communication is based on her intellectual prowess rather than an emotional orientation. As a result Liz may find it hard to build engagement, inspire followship and motivate people to vote.
It feels that it’s too soon for Liz to be a credible candidate yet she does have a gentle radiance within her that if nurtured has the potential to become very compelling. My suggestion to Liz is to find an accredited practitioner in Emotional Freedom Techniques to release and clear some of her insecurities so we can see more of the essence of who Liz really is at her core.
So in terms of their charisma (remember I’ve completely ignored their views) here is my verdict. I have rated the candidates from the most charismatic to least charismatic:
1. Jeremy Corbyn
2. Yvette Cooper
3. Andy Burnham
4. Liz Kendall
Good luck to all four candidates, these are interesting times for British politics.
In whatever we do, whether it is delivering training, writing books or speaking, Tom and I are fundamentally, at the most simple level, helping people to reach their potential. That is why we love doing what we do.
As we both work with hundreds of people over the course of a year the one thing we constantly find is that the biggest issue getting in the way of an individual developing in order to reach their potential is their mindset.
You have to have the right mindset for success in whatever situation you are in, and mindset is an attitude, which is quite different from character which is made up of your personal qualities.
Mindset and Influence
The skill of influencing is actually very simple. The techniques, the knowledge, everything that you might need to know about how to influence effectively is very straight forward. But if you have a negative view about your ability to influence somebody, it’s going to come out in your behaviours.
So maybe as a small business owner you might be seeking to influence somebody in a corporate organisation and you are feeling slightly less confident than usual, or as a manager you are seeking to influence a subordinate that in the past has been a little bit difficult in terms of the relationship.
This lack of confidence about the situation will have an impact on your mindset, so that when you go into that conversation your mindset will encourage certain behaviours, and those behaviours will determine your results
Presenting with Influence
Let’s consider as an example somebody in a medium sized business, perhaps a manager who has got a few people under them but they’ve now got this opportunity to speak at a conference. Fear of public speaking is right up there in the top ten fears that the people hold. They may have all the knowledge in the world, they might have a really compelling point of view, and the audience could be 50 people, 100 people, and riveted around this subject matter. But if that manager in that situation of giving a presentation feels a lack of confidence or situational confidence, that will have an impact. To be more effective at influencing that group the manager just needs to be more confident in that moment of influence.
And you can make people more confident. There are lots of techniques that are very straight forward, very well proven, there is a lot of science behind it, and they will allow people to become more confident in the moment. So that’s not about character. In fact we would suggest, if you are going to be presenting to a group, that’s about being more of yourself. But you have got to be confident to deliver the message.
In this presenting situation, when mindset is an issue, the reason it negatively impacts so often is because people don’t realise that they’ve got this negative mindset. They have this feeling of anxiety, this feeling of nerves or discomfort, but they don’t name it, they don’t put their awareness on it. And if you are not aware of something you can’t change it.
And it’s no good them saying, “well look, I’m really nervous about giving this presentation” and us saying “well just be really confident about it”, that won’t work. But if you can understand what is getting in the way in terms of mindset, you can then choose to focus on something that can also be true but is perhaps more helpful.
So rather than going into that presentation thinking ” oh I’m going to mess it up, it’s not something I want to do”, if you are aware of how you are thinking you could go in with the attitude of “I’ve got a message that I know would be really valuable to this group”. If you go in with that at the front of your mind, you are going to do a better job and you are going to be more confident in your delivery.
A lot of what we do is about helping people understand what they believe to be true about a situation – their mindset. What is the mindset that you need if you are going to be effective in any influencing situation? Well typically, that’s the mindset of confidence.
Have you been in situations where you know your mindset has impacted your outcome? We would love to hear about it.
Jerry was chatting to someone recently and was struck by what a great attitude this guy had. As the owner of a small business, he clearly understood that in order to keep growing his business (which was doing very well) he needed to develop himself and his skill set, and not just do more of the same and focus on his business metrics.
It reminded us of the work of Jim Rohn (now deceased), American entrepreneur and motivational speaker, who is credited with shaping a whole generation of personal development trainers. Jim believed you should “work harder on yourself than you do on your job”.
You will find Jim’s inspirational quotes all over the internet, mostly along the lines of taking personal responsibility for developing yourself, the idea being that you attract success by being the person you become.
Jim certainly personified this in his rags to riches life story, starting life as an Idaho farm boy and ending up in Beverley Hills. And we can think of many other people who have followed the same path and started with humble beginnings but by focusing on improving themselves they have built small empires – Richard Branson (started out with £300), Sir Philip Green (Arcadia Group), Charles Dunstone (Carphone Warehouse), Samuel Walton (Walmart), Oprah Winfrey (“Queen of all media”) to name but a fraction.
I’m sure you can think of many people too that you know personally who have achieved success by continually self-educating, learning, developing and challenging themselves.
One of our favourite quotes is “to have more than you have got, become more than you are” and it is very true that personal income rarely exceeds personal development. Or if it does it doesn’t stay that way for long.
Here are some of Jim’s other thought-provoking quotes on a range of topics:
Skills: Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems; wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges; wish for more wisdom
Growth: Don’t join an easy crowd. You won’t grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform and achieve are high
Activity: The few who do are the envy of the many who watch.
Change: Unless you change how you are, you’ll always have what you’ve got
And finally, “if you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”
What are you doing to improve and develop yourself and to push yourself to the edge of your discomfort?
We were very excited to hold our first webinar Masterclass recently on High Stakes Influencing.
It was hosted by James Lavers, internet entrepreneur and former producer to Tony Robbins, renowned US motivational speaker. We talked to James about our business journey and how we have used ‘high stakes’ influencing to build our two businesses to generate six-figure incomes.
By ‘high stakes’ we mean those situations where the outcome is really important to your business – usually around sales or business development activities.
During the Masterclass we talked in detail about selling, pitching, presenting and negotiating. We explained how we used C-cubed Influence in these ‘high stakes’ influencing situations to make a real step change in our businesses and cross a threshold to get more higher-paying clients.
We are passionate about sharing what we teach our corporate clients with small businesses and entrepreneurs, as we know the massive impact C-cubed Influence can have. That is why our corporate clients pay over £6k a day to have both of us work with them. They know that the benefits of having highly effective influencers in their teams are well worth the investment, and they know that they will reap the rewards many times over.
During the Masterclass we shared some of the C-cubed Influence techniques we use and in case you missed it here it is again for a limited time only:
This is because we all influence in our everyday interactions, whether we are aware of it or not, and of course we often try to influence consciously in many of our business situations.
So Tom was excited to be invited recently to talk to Nick Peters, journalist and Editor of Business First magazine, on his weekly programme on Share Radio.
You can listen to the interview here.
The show, called “Shop Floor”, is all about work and the workplace in all its forms. Nick was interested in the idea of sales as a culture, not just something that someone who has the word SALES in their title does. He wanted to explore how influence can be used to empower everyone in the organisation to ‘sell’ the company every time they deal with a customer.
Tom had a great time talking to Nick about C-cubed influence, how mindset effects our ability to influence, and how C-cubed influence is having an impact in organisations around the world.
Share Radio is one of London’s newest radio stations, and you can listen to the radio interview here.