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The Forgotten Charismatic Leadership Skill:
It Might Surprise You...

charisma listening

This charismatic leadership article will provide practical steps for bringing more charisma – a learnable skill and art – to every conversation and interaction.

You'll see how subsuming your desire to control, speak, and shine creates a dynamic of openness and commitment that leads to powerful charisma and influence with others.

charismatic leadership 2

Charismatic leadership is the ability to inspire enthusiasm and interest using influence. Someone who has charisma can reduce resistance, while conveying confidence and by providing comfort. 

In the best sense, charismatic leadership is not manipulative energy or a magical gift endowed upon select personalities. Instead, it's an attractive blend of learnable qualities.

An Example...

When I think about the power of charisma, it reminds me of this real-life situation from 10 years ago. Colleagues of mine were launching a new business, and they’d asked me to get involved.

I reviewed their plan and gave it some thought. While the idea was interesting, I decided there needed to be a better fit. At our next meeting, I was direct with them, letting them know I would not be working with them on this venture. I braced myself for their appeals and attempts to change my mind. I dreaded this part the most. Instead, they assured me that they understood. They said something kind and supportive like this,

“Well, we’re disappointed, but we know that this must be something
that only you can decide. We appreciate you considering it..."

Then, they quickly, with no pressure, started asking questions. The questions were about my opinions and insights. It didn't feel manipulative. They seemed to have a sincere desire to understand my viewpoint. As I got involved in the discussion, I forgot about what I didn’t like. I felt engaged, understood, and energized.

Before I knew it, we were in a high-energy strategy session. And to my amazement, before the meeting was over, I’d signed up to get involved. Hey, what just happened? They didn’t coerce me. They didn’t list all the reasons I needed to do this. They didn’t show testimonials. They didn’t press me in any way.

What happened? They was  the (often) forgotten skill of charismatic leadership: listening aggressively. Through their desire to understand my feelings, my questions, my insights and my concerns – all with no "agenda" to change me - my resistance dissolved. Their probing questions allowed me to express freely. I, then, 'came around' on my own.

Listening aggressively means that you are focused on hearing in a determined and energetic way. 

When you are doing it well, you demonstrate your desire to understand by asking questions and listening with no agenda other than to understand.

Listening Aggressively Exercise - DO IT!


This exercise demonstrates how to reduce resistance through listening aggressively, and why it's a key charismatic leadership skill. I want you you to DO this simple exercise. Don't just read about this exercise. I want you to take a minute and DO each step. They're simple steps. If you DO them, you'll get a better understanding of the power of Listening Aggressively.  Begin by sitting with nothing in your lap or hands:

  • Step 1: Put your palms together (pressing palm to palm) in front of your chest.
  • Step 2:  Your right arm will represent someone who has resistance. (In my example scenario -above– that would be me-the 'resistant one').
  • Step 3: Your left arm will represent the Charismatic Leader who'd like the other person to take a specific action. (In my example scenario that would be entrepreneurs' Cynthia and Bob).
  • Step 4: Notice: when both go toward each other, they press together and the two stay stuck in the middle.
  • Step 5: If you hold this position for a while, the strain increases in both of your arms and there’s no movement or change.
  • Step 6: NOW, put your hands in the same starting position, pressing palm to palm.
  • Step 7: Move your right arm ('The Resistant One') and palm to the left ('The Charismatic Leader'), let your right hand ('The Resistant One') push against your left hand, but this time let your left ('the Leader') hand give in and relax, allowing the right hand ('The Resistant One')  to keep moving to the left.
  • Step 8:  At some point your right hand ('The Resistant One') will stop. It will have pushed as far as it can go. If you hold that position, you will notice that your right hand gets tired and drops of its own weight.
  • Step 9: The left hand (The Charismatic Leader) is allowing the right hand to move to its own ends.
  • Step 10: Contracted, but unimposing, the left hand (The Charismatic Leader) can maintain its position with no tension and little loss of energy.

THIS kind of movement, starting in Step #6, when the left hand (The Charismatic Leader) gives in and allows the right hand to move is exactly what Cynthia and Bob did. They did not push against or oppose my decision. They simply allowed me to fully express it.

Their lack of tension and resistance, and sincere interest in me and my views,
helped me release my own resistance. Our open discussion increased understanding
between us, and caused me to naturally want to move with them, instead of against them. 

They listened aggressively.

Read the above statement again, at least one  more time, okay? Go ahead, I'll wait.

"When it comes to charismatic leadership the bottom line is other-mindedness." John Maxwell

R.P.S.A. will help you to be the 'left-hand' - Charismatic Leader. It's a Four-Step Question and Listening Dialogue Model to help you bring 'other mindedness' and charismatic leadership skill and influence to every conversation.


Hear How R.P.S.A. Works - An Audio Example/Lesson

R. Reflect - Is to Verify and Clarify. Reflecting demonstrates listening and invites the other person to say more. This lowers resistance in the person speaking – because they’re usually bracing for, or dreading, an argument like me.

P. Probe - Is to: Ask Clarifying Questions to Understand. Once a person feels heard and no one is trying to manipulate and convince, we relax. Now, sharing ideas, problem-solving, and an honest exchange of insights is possible.

S. Supporting - Is to Demonstrate Understanding.   You can show understanding even if you disagree. You can almost always sincerely gain a proper understanding of the other person's viewpoint IF you've done Steps 1 & 2-Relect & Probe, well. If you’ve been sincere in expressing your knowledge, you can then, successfully and safely, move to the next step.

A. Advising - Is to Provide Facts & Make a Recommendation. 

MPORTANT POINT:  If you advise too early, before completing the Reflect. Probe. and Support steps, the person will stay in resistance and dig in their heels, no matter how accurate and great your advice is.  But if resistance is gone, like in my Scenario, the person is not pushing anymore and feelings have ‘blown through.'  the listener will be more open to hearing about new facts and recommendations.

 Click to download a PDF of the audio, R.P.S.A.:
Charismatic Leadership Listening Aggressively Steps

"The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer." Henry David Thoreau

More Listening Aggressively Resources:

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In Summary...  And, Your Input.

I teach R.P.S.A. in every leadership workshop because you can’t talk people out of how they are feeling. This charismatic leadership skill helps the resistance 'blow itself out' kind of  like a storm that's passing through.

The worst thing you can do is fight the storm/resistance head on. Much of the time feelings pass when they’re expressed directly. R.P.S.A. is a great facilitation process because it works! But, like most things, it only works - when you use it!

You want someone to do something. They don’t want to do it. You push. They push. No progress is made. Unfortunately, this happens every day with customers, colleagues, family members and friends.

Transform aggravation to acceptance and compliance to commitment. Use this, now NOT forgotten, charismatic leadership skill: listen aggressively by using the four R.P.S.A. steps.

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What Other Wake Up Eager Community Members Shared:

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Give time for other's responses 
I am a fast thinker and quick communicator. If there is 5 seconds of silence after I ask a question or make a comment I start talking again. I have …

ABSORBING Everything I Said... 
I believe learning to listen effectively, both to myself and others, is one of the key skills which helped develop my career over the last few years. …

To Go First? Or Lead From Behind? 
It’s exciting more and more consultants are getting this message out to leaders. Listening is critically important for anyone in business, and especially …

Like Putting Wings on Catepillars 
I agree with Trevor that listening is about being present. Leaders (people) who are present are not distracted by all kinds of intervening thoughts and …

Transformational Leadership 
Thanks for a wonderful topic, Suzie. Listening truly is the lost art of leadership. I have never heard of aggressively listening (sounds intimidating), …

The Key to Listening Is... 
The key to listening is to be present at all times , all too often people who think they are listening drift off into thoughts of their own. …

Present Moment Awareness 
Listening is different from hearing. Hearing is simply a mechanical function of the parts of the ear sending signals to the brain. Listening is connecting …

Sage Advice 30 Years Ago 
Some sage advice from one of my first managers 30 years ago: - Talk less, listen more - Make fewer statements on what you know and ask more questions …

Like Tug of War... 
I loved the example of the yoga position. As an energy therapist, I can totally relate to allowing the push to remove your need to pull. Much like …

Difficult to Do 
Excellent article. My thought wasn't that it was an forgotten skill, rather it is difficult to do. As I thought about this, I get 200+ emails a day, …

Check Out This Book... 
Have you read "Listening The Forgotten Skill" by Madelyn Burley-Allen ISBN# 0-471-08776-9. The book is about how effective listening can aid in professional …

Emotional Intelligence Equation 
Listening could be included as a part of one's emotional intelligence equation. The better you control your emotions, the better you are able to concentrate …

Listen for Possibility Not the Flaw 
I don't think listening is lost, but perhaps it is misplaced and hard to find. It certainly is not in vogue on talk radio or in congress. Many conversations …

Ask Permission to Ask Questions and Take Notes 
Absolutely is a lost art. I always ask permission to ask questions, followed by asking permission to make notes. This directs my attention to listening …

Lost Art 
I do think that listening is a lost art. It is because we we concentrate to much on the reply and also because many time we already have our minds made …

It is Vital! 
Listening is absolutely vital to true leadership! And understanding, even more vital! I, too, have spent the better part of my life's journey exploring …

Absolute Listening 
Suzie, After my recent training, you and I know well that listening is the biggest key to communicating. I realize more each day just how important …

On Target with Listening 
Suzie ... I totally agree and found new and refreshed thoughts from the 'read'. I will forward to others as it is a high priority in gaining credibiity …

Listening IS Key: RPSA Works 
I find that most leaders don't listen very well. They (including myself) are very busy talking and telling. Thanks for the reminder about RPSA. I …

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