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Developing leaders with charisma

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Daniel McVay
  • 22nd Operations Squadron

As Airmen, we are constantly seeking qualities that make us better leaders.

When it comes to the myriad of leadership skills, charisma is often misunderstood. Many hold the false belief that charisma is something you’re naturally born with, a trait that cannot be developed. In reality, anyone can learn to cultivate charisma, motivate his or her subordinates/team, and become a more influential leader.

 “Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do, while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could do,” Steve Jobs stated.  Charismatic Airmen inspire action within others. They get others to believe in the organization’s vision and then motivate them to achieve their own goals. They innovate, problem solve, and break barriers.  As Airmen, this is in our blood—it is baked into our culture.


Here are a few thoughts I have when it comes to developing leaders with charisma:


1)         Don’t lead by authority alone.

Build a connection, establish a vision and then move out.  Level yourself up with your subordinates and connect on a personal level. Let their concerns be heard by questioning them. Ensure your subordinates know you are ready to listen and learn.


2)         Build confidence throughout your organization. Building confidence in young Airmen gives them the courage to pursue new ideas or goals, which then inspires others to take action. Confidence is magical. Empower your folks to speak their minds, as doing so extends confidence and trust up and down the chain of command.


3)         Lead by example. Charismatic leaders are aware of the fact that a strong commitment to their own goals is important to unit motivation. Get your hands dirty and leave no stone unturned to get the job done. A deep sense of commitment and hard work not only portrays to your Airmen as fair and genuine, but also instills the same sense of motivation and hard work among their wingmen and subordinates.

Our Air Force needs charismatic leaders at every level because they fight for quality of life and embody skills that motivate others to seek out innovative solutions to complex problems. They create vision that their subordinates can readily see, and in return they are motivated to contribute and work towards a common goal.

What have you done today to inspire those around you? Do you attack each day with passion and a positive attitude? Are you developing leaders with charisma who inspire and motivate each other to make excellence their standard?