11/23/2015

Why Account Management is an Art Form & the Power of Charisma

By James

For the past six weeks, I’ve been learning about account management. This may sound like a boring or menial subject (I was skeptical too at first), but I assure you it’s not. Account management is so much more than just keeping everybody, i.e; the client and your team, happy. It involves a whole lot of other behind-the-scenes workings that account managers learn about at Figmints.

Just to give you a sampling of what agency account managers need to know and have to succeed, here’s a short list:

  • ability to negotiate
  • how to turn disasters into goldmines
  • great listening skills
  • playing devil’s advocate
  • how to run effective virtual meetings
  • how to give feedback
  • how to run meetings that people don’t hate
  • knowledge about design and branding… and web design, web development, video, and digital marketing
  • charisma

There’s so much more, but that should give you a good idea of the range of skills and subjects an account manager has to master. The part of the account management course I’m currently taking that I found the most interesting and helpful touches on the last bullet note up there: charisma.

THE POWER OF CHARISMA

A lot of account management deals with soft skills because, after all, account management is essentially the role of managing relationships. This is why having charisma is so important.

To learn about charisma, we read The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane. If you haven’t read it before, I’m now a huge fan and definitely suggest it to anyone in or outside of account management. A lot of the skills the author teaches can be applied to both your professional and personal life, which makes it a win-win.

The idea behind the book is that anyone can learn charisma – you don’t have to be born with it. As the author states, “charismatic behaviors can be learned and perfected by anyone.” Shout out to all my fellow introverts!

The best part is that she breaks it down into specific steps and practices, and includes multiple ways to go about it. I’ll share a couple of key points and takeaways from the book that you can apply to your own life.

1. THE 3 COMPONENTS OF CHARISMA ARE PRESENCE, POWER, AND WARMTH
  • Presence – Being present means that you are in the moment. Sometimes we act like we are listening to someone, but really there are a million thoughts running through our head, or we are thinking about what we are going to say when that person stops talking. This takes away from the connection we are creating with the other person, and while you may be good at pretending, our brains can tell when the listener is not fully present. Practice ‘dumb listening,’ where you are only taking in what the other person is saying. Tune out your other thoughts and focus on their words. The brain moves incredibly fast – there’s no need to worry about what you’re going to say back until after the other person is done speaking.
  • Power – Project power with your body. This includes having good posture, taking up space in the room, speaking in slow tempo, and nodding less often in conversations. How people perceive you is how you actually are in their minds.
  • Warmth – Warmth is all about making other people feel good. Try asking others questions and work to make them feel like they are the most valued, important, and interesting person in the room. Smiling helps too!
2. FOCUS ON WHAT IS STOPPING YOU FROM BEING CHARISMATIC

The first step to being charismatic is to identify what keeps you from being charismatic. Maybe you experience a lot self-doubt, or maybe you have a lot of anxiety. The best way to prevent discomfort or uncertainty is by planning ahead. Plan for what you have control over, which includes what you are wearing, the location or setting, and timing.

While there are variables you can control, many of us still have anxiety that prevents us from being charismatic. Here are a few steps that can help deal with a situation that stresses you out:

First, stigmatize the experience by acknowledging that it’s normal to have uncomfortable feelings. You can even imagine other people going through the same experience. See yourself as part of a larger group of people that is going through those same feelings together.

Then, neutralize negative thoughts. Realize that the other person is not necessarily reacting negatively to you, but to their own mental or physical discomfort. Our minds like to alter reality and they are conditioned to bring out the negative in each situation.

Finally, try ‘rewriting reality.’ Think of alternatives to your perspective. Writing these down by hand helps to internalize them – make sure to describe them in detail. Adopt one of these alternatives answers to reality as true.

That wraps up my top quick takeaways from the book. I hope you use those tips to become a more charismatic and influential person in your own life!