4 Ways to Develop Your Leadership “X-Factor”

Have you ever attended a presentation and found yourself immediately mesmerized by the speaker? Take a moment and think about the exact person you were listening to. You probably felt as if a force pulled you in while listening.  You try to identify the qualities that kept you engaged and wanting more, but you just can’t put your finger on them.  You know the speaker had passion and lots of confidence. Perhaps it was their high energy, but are these qualities replicable? Absolutely, YES.  Does it take effort and time? YES.

Influence is an exceptional quality that has an impact on one or a large group of individuals. When we meet a great communicator, we might say they have charisma or that “x-factor” that draws others to them.  When we see someone at work that can gain the attention of peers and upper management, we might call it “people skills.” The good news is, when you break this elusive quality down into actionable characteristics and behaviors, you will see that you too can influence people in a positive way.  With a little time and practice, you can also leave an impression on all that you come into contact with.

Here are 4 ways to develop these qualities and practice influence:

1. Boost Your Self-Confidence

This may seem easier said than done, but you really can increase your self-confidence, which builds influence, by sharing your knowledge with others, offering your opinions and ideas in group settings, and even speaking publicly whenever the opportunity presents itself. If these things make you nervous, practice what you are going to say until you know it by heart. Many times we don’t give ourselves credit for the experience we have or the knowledge we possess. By sharing regularly, we can sometimes receive validation that leads to a greater sense of confidence. Remember, practice makes perfect and these are things that must be done over and over again.

We don’t give ourselves credit for the experience we have or the knowledge we possess.

2. Be Passionate and Let That Passion Shine Through

Do you love what you do? If the specific tasks do not excite you, can you get excited about the purpose behind the tasks?  This is where passion is ignited.  When you love what you are doing, or more importantly, WHY you are doing it, others are drawn to you.  Passion creates meaning for doing what we do every day. Take time to evaluate why you do what you do. Do you remember when you first started in your field or decided to enter the field you are pursuing?  What was it that excited you?  Let others see the love you have for the work you do.  This is one of the strongest magnets you can have to attract others to you.

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3. Be BOLD and Brave

Fearless leaders are admired and followed. Being willing to stick your neck out at times for what you believe in is admirable. Take risks, face your fears, and try new and adventurous things at work and at home. Breaking out of our mundane routines helps to prove to ourselves that we are bold and courageous. Try to schedule one new activity a month or at least every other month, whether it is trying a new exercise class or going to a big networking event that you would never have gone to before. Courage is a very attractive quality that people are drawn to.

Passion creates meaning for doing what we do every day. Why do you do what you do? @KarenKeller

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4. Maintain a Sense of Humor

Having a sense of humor keeps you focused on the humanness around you.  When people take themselves too seriously or come across as lacking a sense of humor, it can repel people. Be vulnerable. Listen to comedians, watch sitcoms, read a fun book and pay attention to how others make you laugh.  A sense of humor is usually developed when a person has enough confidence that they can laugh at themselves and the little stressors in life. Laugh at your mistakes and help others learn from them by sharing them with a lighthearted approach. It may seem difficult or awkward at first, but you’ll find that others will be instantly drawn to you the more you share this “lighter side.”

Being charismatic draws people to you, makes them listen more intently to what you have to say and creates that x-factor personality trait that others can’t seem to get enough of. The bottom line is this charisma allows you to be more influential at work, at school or in your personal life.


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Karen Keller, Ph.D., CEO of Karen Keller International, Inc., is author and creator of the Keller Influence Indicator® (KII®). She is a clinical psychologist and Master Certified Coach specializing in influence and human behavior. Dr. Keller develops programs, materials and resources relating to the Art of Influence. Her latest influence report, SOCR®, incorporates a person’s Seven Influence Traits® as related to 5 Organizational Competencies. She is passionate at helping people and companies develop their influence potential and an influence culture. Dr. Keller speaks to groups around the globe about the impact of influence in business and relationships. Contact her at karen.keller@Karen-Keller.com or www.karen-keller.com

  • Kristin Woodman

    What a great list. Success breeds confidence, but to be successful often requires confidence to start. I’ve shared that a little bit of knowledge and confidence is often more than enough to get started until time and wins grow them organically.

    On the humor front, I’ll say I fell flat at that for years. When I stopped trying to be funny, and led with vulnerability to share and laugh at my missteps, that worked much better. I’m glad you shared that part, because that’s achievable even when we don’t have the natural humor gene.

  • Sergey Yatsenko

    4 Ways to Develop Your Leadership “X-Factor”. – */S.Y 5 Way is A Permanent Creativity for Development.

  • There’s a more human way to do business.

    In the Social Age, it’s how we engage with customers, collaborators and strategic partners that matters; it’s how we create workplace optimism that sets us apart; it’s how we recruit, retain (and repel) employees that becomes our differentiator. This isn’t a “people first, profits second” movement, but a “profits as a direct result of putting people first” movement.

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