Fifty Shades of Being Engaging

Engagement among employees and teams is the fashionable ‘new grey’ of management communications.

Human Resource departments have seen to it that employee engagement scores form part of many company Annual Reports – meaning senior managers are now driven to improve scores year-on-year.

It’s all about igniting the individual motivation of employees so they will play an active and willing role in delivering the strategy, which makes personal good sense to each individual. This group experience of engagement certainly sounds sexy and alluring enough to come in at least fifty shades.

Engagement isn’t just a user experience. From a manager’s perspective, the active component of kicking off this process means being engaging. And that, alas, can betray a shockingly dull monochrome.

50 shades of grey - just dull grey?

50 shades of grey – just dull grey?

So how to make it better?

For leaders finding their teams post low engagement scores, manuals often recommend investing in an outsize toolkit of “leadership techniques and strategies” offering a straight line back to the not-so secret wisdom of Aristotle’s Rhetoric. You’ll learn how to jab the air with a forefinger, lift your voice into false interrogatives, single out audience members with a steely glare, or stand with arms akimbo, all the while sparking off rhetorical questions like a Catherine wheel.

Aliens might be fooled, but the rest of us know true engagement simply doesn’t work like that.


Employees want personality, not ‘leadership techniques.’

Translating company goals into individual motivation by appealing to enlightened self-interest can’t be achieved through “one size fits all” techniques that don’t take each manager’s unique personality into account.

We won’t go the extra mile for a manager until he or she has shown us both authenticity and personality. Generally, that means showing empathy and speaking from the heart, every bit as much as describing clear goals we can rally around.

So being engaging is personality. And, just like the colour grey, personality has many shades. To unlock the secret of how to become more engaging, we first need to define and map with much greater precision how engaging people really operate.

There are plenty of personality typing classifications that may help explain who we are in a static context – but not necessarily how we affect others in dynamic fashion.

Experience teaches us that some people have learned how use their personalities to lower our barriers of distrust, win the benefit of the doubt and get us on their side whatever the content of their discourse. Such engaging people aren’t always like us – or even necessarily likable. Yet they are influencers.

Getting Under the Radar

By temperament, we might favour the humour of the late Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais, or Mr Bean. But, skimming the radio dial on a tedious car journey, we may also feel a dreadful fascination in listening to right-wing talkshow host Rush Limbaugh (even with ratings down he still has 10 million listeners), or European nationalist political oddballs like France’s Marine Le Pen or Britain’s UKIP leader Nigel Farage. How on earth did they manage to sneak under our radar?

Dreadful fascination:  "shock jock" Rush  Limbaugh

Dreadful fascination: “shock jock” Rush Limbaugh

Like them or not, these people all share mastery of a single attribute that results in them being more engaging, characterised by the influence of personality in communication. It spans content, message, tone, and non-verbal communication too. This is charisma.

Charisma is how we experience the personality of someone able to quickly win over our attention, trust, even admiration. Charisma short-circuits the rational, cognitive process of “show me why I should believe in you and your plan.”

Of course, we can learn to use charisma to raise our own power of influence on others. For example, managers responsible for motivating their teams will become more engaging through effective use of their charisma assets.

So we believe charisma is the key to still-unresolved mystery of making a more exact science of being engaging in the workplace. And Communicate Charisma has found a way of showing you what charisma looks like in a simple visual snapshot or “X-ray.”

We’ve deliberately made in much more colourful than those shades of grey. You can find out more about our unique methodology on our website:

Charisma profiles of Great Communicators

Charisma profiles of Great Communicators

We can show you the charisma of Nelson Mandela (you can read our portrait of him by clicking here), Barack Obama, or Martin Luther King (you can read our analysis by clicking here). We can show you what a truly engaging manager’s charisma skill-set looks like. And because we can show you what your own charisma looks like, you can see what attributes to stress in order to become more engaging.

We can show you the DNA of charisma and how we’re related to well-known systems of personality typing (You can read about this by clicking here).  So, what does an engaging manager look like on the Communicate Charisma X-ray?

A common definition of successful engagement is that every individual wants a stake in shared success, and feels he/she has received a meaningful call to action. To communicate in such diverse fashion, an engaging manager should communicate across a broad range of emotional frequencies, allowing many different people to experience his or her personality.

The Communicate Charisma graphic enables us to see just how much energy a person brings to each of the seven dimensions of charisma, but also across how broad or narrow a range of circumstances they might apply that energy. For instance, it’s great to have lots of empathy. But if at a funeral you were only able to use the very same tone of voice to address the widow you’d used the day before when asking the captain of your neighbourhood football team to let you join, your condolences might fall flat.

Here’s the Charisma Essence profile of truly engaging manager and former EVP of a global multinational. Exceptionally, he has broad range capabilities in no less than four of the seven dimensions. You can see these as the broader wedges in each of the lettered segments below.

Engaging leader profile

Engaging leader profile

This manager’s energy level in any single charisma dimension is not high enough to suggest he’s single-minded or obsessive, while overall the circular chart suggests has exceptionally broad-based powers of engaging others. Proof of this comes in the commentary on his Collaboration type: “you know how to give your team a say – not just a task to fulfil.”

Broad range shows engaging manager attributes

Broad range shows engaging manager attributes

Unlock Your Charisma

Further analysis of the chart above shows how Communicate Charisma has addressed the question of “how to make it better” in two ways.

Firstly by providing clear visual tools to map, measure and manage exactly which personality assets you bring to any conversation. The problem with words like ‘engagement’ and ‘charisma,’ is that while we’re all quite familiar with their general meaning, we don’t have a forensic understanding or a visual means of plotting these effects.

Problem solved with Communicate Charisma’s, easy-to-use graphics showing the unique combination of “Charisma Essence” and “Charisma Projection” for any individual who takes a simple online self-assessment test. This generates a personal report that provides a baseline for every communicator’s journey toward wider and deeper self-knowledge.

Secondly, by practice and continuous improvement. Because charisma is the way others experience us, we need feedback mechanisms to monitor how other people are responding to our personal communication style. Because group assessment and sharing triggers this learning process, Communicate Charisma’s workshops provide a safe yet challenging forum for self-discovery. As follow-up, participants design and then execute their Personal Development Plan for ongoing development of charisma assets in their own time.

If it’s your responsibility to promote greater employee engagement, then it’s up to you to make a start by becoming more engaging. So  Communicate Charisma could just be for you. After all, people think in colour, not in grey.

At Communicate Charisma we teach people how to become more engaging and effective communicators. In our Charisma Dimensions workshops, we use practical exercises coupled with our bespoke self-awareness tools to allow participants to understand and experience the impact of individual personality traits on how we are perceived by others. Together, we use these insights to develop a more effective and authentic personal style, and so raise our power of influence and communications mastery.

Find out more about our workshops.


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