Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Whose the Fairest of Them All?

circle of colored pencils (watercolor)
(Pencil art credit: Ractapopulous/Pixabay)
"Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, whose the fairest of them all?"

How much influence do you have over your people? Where do you fall on the charisma spectrum? Most importantly, do you consider yourself the "fairest" leader of them all?

There are many paradoxes that face leaders as they grow and develop. Whether or not we choose to be good or great, we have to be motivated to get better. One character trait that can become an affliction for a leader is charisma. Some leaders are very charismatic—people are drawn to them like a magnets. Others, however, may have a more ordinary appeal or charm.

Charisma in itself is not a bad thing for one's command presence. However, when one becomes fixated on one's self like the evil queen in the story of Snow White, the leader has a serious problem.

Like most all things, leaders needs to be fairly balanced in their relational traits. Polar ends of any spectrum tend to be areas to avoid.

Charisma Red Flags

John C. Maxwell in Leadership Promises for Every Day - "Are People Drawn to You" shares some red flags for our charismatic leaders. 

  • Pride - nobody wants to follow a leader who thinks he is better than everyone else.
  • Insecurity - if you are uncomfortable with who you are, others will be too.
  • Moodiness - if people never know what to expect from you, they stop expecting anything.
  • Perfectionism - people respect the desire for excellence, but dread unrealistic expectations.
  • Cynicism - people don't want to be rained on by someone who sees a cloud around every silver lining.
Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge - Digging a Little Deeper

Take some time to review your command presence.
Command Presence
More than anything else, the leader’s command presence sets the tone for the command climate. Command presence is how we present ourselves to others, the myriad of personal attributes and behaviors that communicates to others that we are worthy of their trust and respect.

Character is the foundation of command presence. All people reveal their character in every interaction, and character shapes and permeates a leader’s command presence.

Another component of command presence—demeanor—speaks volumes to others. Poise and self-assurance play a large part in shaping the image projected. Effective leaders project an image that is calm, organized, and focused on success.

Fire leaders take charge when in charge; we lead from the front and act decisively. In times of crisis, a leader’s command presence can be the critical factor in determining whether a team succumbs to pressures and dangers or stays focused to seize an opportunity to overcome and succeed. We inspire confidence among team members by demonstrating a strong and effective command presence. 
  • Solicit feedback (consider 360°) from those around you—superiors, peers, and followers.
  • Discuss the difference between being confident and arrogant.

About the Author: Pam McDonald is a writer/editor for BLM Wildland Fire Training and Workforce Development and member of the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee. The expressions are those of the author.

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