October 13, 2007

Power and Schmoozing at Work

author_sally By Sally Raskoff

clip_image002[1]What does it take to do well at work? Why do some people seem to get ahead while others whose skills are equivalent (or even better) don’t move up as quickly as they expect to? We have a friend, let’s call him David, who was fired from a number of jobs. Once he had a job for some time, he couldn’t get promoted. His skills were exemplary, yet he could not seem to move up the ladder.

On the surface, skill seems to be a basic element of getting, keeping, and moving up in an occupation. The person who cuts my hair has had a number of assistants over the last few years. One, (let’s call her Yasmin), moved up to work for the owner of the salon. Others, however, have disappeared suddenly from the salon. But as far as I could tell their skills seemed somewhat equivalent. 

clip_image004In most offices, people are hired as probationary, and after some period of time they become regular employees or are “let go”. Once someone becomes a regular employee, some are promoted while others while away at the same desk year after year. Christine L. Williams and others have published fascinating work examining why certain people are on “glass escalators” or, by contrast, hit the glass ceiling. 

clip_image006While gender, race, ethnicity, and social class certainly account for many of these dynamics, I’d like to bring Max Weber into the conversation. He notes that the concept of charisma is central to understanding leadership and power (along with class and status).Success is about more than your position or the politics of an organization.

Yasmin, the hair stylist’s assistant, has tremendous charisma compared to other stylist assistants in the salon, which may explain why the big boss snapped her up as his own assistant. My friend David, as another one of my friends likes to say, “failed coffee” in his early job experiences. Until he became more aware of social dimensions at work, he had to keep looking for new jobs. He had previously done his job tasks quite well but didn’t do well at developing social relationships at work.

clip_image009Charisma is that special something that some people have in abundance and others lack. Those with it can command the attention of others simply by walking in a room. Many of our country’s presidents had loads of charisma, and most successful public figures and leaders have more than their fair share of charisma (which is often how they win elections). Most of the professors whose classes you’ve really enjoyed probably also had charisma.

Charismatic people are also able to interact with others successfully, more so and much easier than for those with less charisma. To survive and thrive in a workplace, it’s important to have social skills as well as job skills.

I have worked in a number of places and capacities over the years. One of my first “real” jobs was in the U.S. Air Force as an electronics and communications technician. In our workplace, we were responsible for all of the base’s communications— our work consisted of quality control checks and troubleshooting if problems occurred. (As a result, I’m really good at setting up equipment such as video and DVD players!) On the evening and night shifts, we played a lot of pinochle and cribbage after we finished the quality checks and waited for something to break. 

The pinochle game was a very special activity. Only four could play, but our shifts included six to eight people. I noticed very quickly that only certain people were invited into that game—always the supervisor and whomever they asked in. Those he invited were people who did their job really well, and their job skills seemed to be his basic criteria. 

One day a newer colleague asked why he couldn’t play in place of a more seasoned worker. That person could do the work much more quickly than the new guy. The supervisor said that he needed the practice since he was newer and that once he was better at his job, he might be able to play. This supervisor recognized that the skills of the job were identical to those of a good pinochle player: both required one to think ahead and hold onto a lot of information at one time. 

Looking back, social skills were also important; some of our colleagues were never asked to play even though their job skills were adequate. They weren’t people who were rude or mean, but they didn’t command interest as much as those who had more charisma. Since the game did include people who were more social than the others, the game was looked upon as a fun reward and a sign of success in our workplace. The game served as motivation to improve one’s job skills—to avoid work—but also to be more socially adept at work.

In addition to serving in the military, at one time I sold Tupperware (although I did not like to be called a “Tupperware Lady”). To be successful in sales you need more than a good product; you also need sales skills. “Sales skills” is really all about charisma, since to be really effective in getting the big sales and/or repeat customers, you have to “befriend” the client and convince them they can’t live without your product now and in the future. 

I was amazed, even, flabbergasted at my first monthly sales meetings as they sang songs, danced, and held what seemed a lot like a religious revival to clip_image011energize the sales force. The more gregarious among us not only sold more, they won more awards at the gatherings. They were rewarded not just for their sales but for their effervescence during the sales meetings.

Just as it is in sales, in the entertainment industry “who you know” is one very important aspect to moving you in and up the ladder. Who you know is important but, charisma and how well you get along with others are even more important. Social skills and charisma may be more vital than job skills in this industry, since many skills are learned on the job (think, for instance, of a beautiful model hired to star in a movie without any prior experience acting). 

In organizations, whether you are working for pay or volunteering, both job skills and social characteristics are important. On paper, job skills seem to be the most important, but we can’t forget the social dimension of success. Both are crucial for getting a job, keeping it, and moving up.


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We all know those people Intellgent,good looking, charming, and very persuasive. It is important to have charisma people in the work place. They help bend the rules. These type of people reach the goals they set out for themselves and help others around. I suppose it does pay off to be persuasive so you get want you want if it will benefit you and others in your work place.

Being persuasive can be a good thing and a bad thing depening on how you apply pursuasiveness.I feel that there is a time and a place for everything and when someone is being pursuasive in a situation that does not harm anyone else then it is probably a handy ability.

People with a lot of charisma will move up the ladder of success a lot faster then others. Because they liek to draw the crowd and be the center and bost their ideas. where as someone that lacks it will sit silently, and just do the work required of them. And yes i agree that being persuasive can be very benefitial, and at the same time crutial. It would just depend on the situation and who and what it involed.

It is important to have charisma in the work force because that will take you far.You also are able to set goals that others wont.Last but not least,I think being persuasive is a good thing but, can hurt you also.

Some people are extremely charismatic. The person that everybody knows and loves. They brighten up a room. This is the one thing about charisma, eighter the person haves it or not. This is a characteristic trait and in my opion can not be tought.

very persuasive, intellgent, charming, charisma!!! i feel like the ms. king i dont think all of this can be tought but i feel thats its needed in the work place, school i dont think it can do no more killing then the next. i do think its a good thing. too much of anything is bad !!

Charisma means people are drawn to you. The basis would be hard working. good social skills, well dressed,basically a sweet talker that makes it beliveable and someone who keeps ones interest.

Charisma is the ability to be likeable and command attention. It is so important because you develop relationships with people because of your charismatic personality. Social skills are needed in the work place to achieve success. Charismatic authority is based on the leader being set apart by special charismatic qualities that inspire people to follow on their own free will.

Charisma is people that have the ability to get our attention. i think its important but also i think it is something everyone has they just don't have the confidence to use it. the basis would be the skills to tap in to that and show the true you.

I believe chrisma isn't something we can be tought. You either have it or you don't! Like the article says you may have the best job skills but may not get promoted becasue someone is more charismatic than you. So if you have it let it shine!

Charisma can be defined as charming and a natural leadership quality. Most of all , to me, it means that people are naturally drawn to you. Charisma can play a huge role when it comes to success. Charisma is this natural motivation that really can not be explained. It is something that someone that they are born with and can not be taught. Success mixed with charisma creates great results. I think that the basis of charismatic authority would be someone who can speak very well and have the ability to sell you on anything.

Lets be honest here; Life is like a game in today's society. In order to be successful and appeal to a boss or manager to get a higher paying job you need to be a good actor and know how to play the game of life. I come from poverty but went to school at Oxford High School and was known as one of the smartest guys in my class. It's all about how you present yourself and having charisma.

Charisma means that you can bring a crowd to you or like attention. It is so important because it is one of the most important skills you need in a workforce. One of the basis for charismatic authority is to be friendly to everyone and have good people skills.

Charisma basically means to have to extra something that others dont, such as being charming, outgoing, or a positive outlook in there everyday. It is important in work because it helps you break out of the norm in a positive way. Charisma authority is to use your charismatic personality and put it to good use

It is really good to have charisma in everday life. It can get you a job as soon as you walk into your interview, a lot of people have it, some have just a little, and some don't have it at all

Charisma is the ability to draw others in. Like a fisherman draws in a fish with bait. It is important to have charisma at work, say, if you work in a sit-down restaurant. The more charismatic a waiter/waitress is, the more likely it is that they will get a good tip. If a waiter is still good, but doesn't have charisma, they are not as likely to get a good tip. Charismatic authority can be used for good purposes or for bad purposes. Charismatic authority can be used up to a certain point, at which the person being used either stays with the person using them, or decides to leave.

Charisma is the way you carry yourself and how well you do what you do. This is important because it can open or close doors on you. The more charisma you have the better people look at you and helps you get better jobs. You have to present yourself well and learn to show the best you have to offer.

Charisma is that special "thing/spark" a person needs to help them achieve success in anything they do. Charsmatic Authority can basically be described as someone whom makes it up to the highest available position in a job force.

Charisma is that one genealogical chromosomonal spark that separates all of the leaders out there from the followers. It’s not impossible to be successful in the work place without it but from my experience the guy that can carry on a conversation is the one that gets the promotion.

Not everyone has charisma. Charisma is something that makes you unique and stand out from other people. It makes you more likeable at work and possibly have more friends and connections.

In any occupation I believe you need a heavy dose of charisma. Although two people's skills can be superior to one another, the one who has more spunk and a better sense of socialism then that person definitely gets the upper hand on the ladder of success. It's mother nature, I suppose.

Charisma is what makes you stand out from other people. Rather it be a smooth talker, or knowing how to be a seles person. Having charismatic authority is having the ability to really work someone over. Knowing all the right things to say at just the right time.

Many people that work in the public eye have a heavy dose of charisma. They easily communicate and interact with people, many never meet a stranger and can just begin talking with most anyone. A lot of people with charisma have a great personality, are fun to be around, and often people want to talk to them, want to hang out with them. If you have a dull personality and do not have any charisma people many times do not talk to them much and are the last on list to be invited. Charisma is very important in jobs. Jobs are based on clients, anyone can learn skills of a job, but to be a people person, sell products, and go the extra mile for customer, not only raises the employers business but makes customer want to come back, and want to tell others of the friendly helpful (whatever company) down the road.

Charisma to me is what draws people to a particular person. Some individuals are good looking and just have natural born leadership skills. Charisma helps you get ahead in the workplace because executives want confident people in the prestigious positions. The person could be satan on the inside but if he has charisma it is all ok. Charismic authority is having the power to woo someone or to convince them to be a certain way.

i believe leaders are born not taught but sometimes they are over looked because somebody's dad will buy alot of stock if his son gets a good job!!!!

Being able to have charisma is a good thing that will take you very far if you have good charisma you will stand out and it will take you far because you are a leader taking your own way not anybody else's.

Charisma is what you possess more of than others. Charisma in the workplace makes you standout more socially and creatively. Charismatic authority is the power obtained by a person's qualities or accomplishments.

Charisma is a social skill that is positive in nature and attracts the average person. A charismatic person is able to draw people in with their personality. They are able to show to others their basic need of acceptance. The basis of charismatic authority is that they are confident in themselves and what they represent.

Charisma is the ability to charm people and draw them to you. It is very important to have that in a workplace no matter what your job skills look like. People are going to be more drawn to you and take more notice if you are more charismatic.
The basis of the charismatic authority is that the people who are more charismatic move up quicker and more often. People who have charisma can charm people into getting what they want. They seem more likeable so people want to help them out more and they get promotions because of their charm.

Charisma is ones presentation of self. That in it self can give someone an advantage in a work place. Charismatic people tend to make people comfortable in or around thier job. Of course this quality would be prefered over the lesser. It is easier to take orders from some one who has thier stuff in order.

Charisma means people know you are looking good. You can have it or you dont have it. Charisma can make you stand out it in a crowd.

Charisma to me in a work place is always getting along with co-workers, knowing your job details to the fullest and going overboard instead of sinking.some people take there jobs to serious while others may not know how to seperate their personal life from their job. I try to do my best at work but staying at one job for a long period of time bores me.

Charisma is something that cannot be taught. It is something a person is born with. Many of these people seem upbeat, have a great personality, and great communication skills. All of those are definitely needed in the work environment as well as everywhere else. Charisma at work is a must!

Charisma is wonderful if you have it! Unfortunately I do not feel this is a characteristic that can be taught it is rather an attribute to one's personality...Charisma is a powerful ability in the workforce!

Charisma is compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others. People with charisma help influence postive things in a work force.

Charisma is a personal attractiveness or interestingness that enables you to influence others. Charisma is important in the work field because it helps you get to higher levels in the work field Managers etc want confident that know how to present themselfs.

charisma is a very good quality for work experience because it shows that it you are a very good worker and you can blow your partner out of the water. It will take you far in life.

Charism is that special "thing/spark" that sets you apart from eveybody else. People need charisma in the workplace beacuse an employer wants someone who has got something the general population does not havfe. The employer wants the best not average. If they can see you are dedicated and good at your job then the feel like you are vested in the company. They feel they have something other companies do not have and they will reward you for this. A charismatic leader just has to have that appealing quality to the masses. He has to have that "spark" that makes people want to listen and understand what he has to say.

charisma is something about you that no one else can imitate. Several people have told me that I am very charismatic, I, do not agree. In my mind I am just like everyone else, meaning nothing special about me. Charisma is a quality about you that no one can really describe,

Having good social skills is just as important as any job skills you may have obtained. Developing relationships in the workplace is a very important step in the process of advancing professionally. Even if you are the best at your job, it would be difficult to promote someone to a leadership position if they can't carry on a conversation or hold others' attention.

Having charisma at work can be a good thing. It sets you apart from other people. Its something that just comes natural to a person.It can develop more relationships and connections with people as well.

Charisma is a natural leadership skill that means we do not actually learn about how we get a charisma by someone. So it is depend on people’s personality and growing environment. People who have charisma can be success easier at work place then other who have less charisma. It does not mean that people must have charisma to success on their work. One of examples of charisma is that I saw the one of conductor of choir in TV programs. They only sang just for 8 minutes, but members of chorus, most of audiences and even I was deeply impressed and overwhelmed by his conduct. And the basis of charismatic authority is someone who has the ability to overwhelm others without noticing.

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