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A Psychologist Looks at Leadership Styles in Business - Part 3.2: Charisma—A Key Component to Success in Any Leadership Style

Posted by Vy Huynh on Oct 29, 2014 10:30:00 AM

book graphic resized 600The reason that most people confer magical status on charisma is that they mistakenly think of it as an attribute that an individual possesses but nothing could be further from the truth.

Charisma is not an attribute, but a perception one person has of another whose personality he or she finds appealing. No one can be charismatic on his or her own.

It takes two people, one to observe what he or she describes as charisma, and another to behave in a manner that the observer perceives as being charismatic.

Charisma is simply the combination of the impact of a wide variety of behaviours that people observe practised, consciously or unconsciously, by those they term charismatic.

Ask ten people to explain why they find someone charismatic and you’ll probably get ten different answers. Some will talk about the person’s ability to speak in an inspiring manner, others will describe his or her genuine friendliness.

Still more will talk about the interest he or she shows in other people’s well-being, and they would all be right, charisma is whatever others observe it to be.

Charisma is a term applied to us when someone likes the combination of how we behave, the actions we take, the face we present to the world, the words we use, our body language and myriad other things. All of these contribute to a greater or lesser degree to our perceived charisma.

So charisma is not a particular quality that a person either possesses or doesn’t possess; and it’s based on behaviours, so it’s definitely not something that is innate.

When you think of charisma in this manner then it becomes clear why some people are perceived as charismatic in one setting but not another. Someone who has developed superior oratory, presentation and performance skills may come across as a charismatic speaker when addressing a group of hundreds of people, but be singularly uncharismatic immediately afterward when talking one to one with members of the audience, because of a lack of one-to-one social and communication skills. Similarly, someone may be charismatic for one group of people who finds his or her behaviours appealing and not be at all charismatic to a group of people who do not.

Everything we do contributes to or detracts from our charisma. Those who are charismatic simply display more of the behaviours that promote a “charismatic response” in those others who matter to them. Some people do this quite effortlessly—there is something in their genes or in their upbringing that makes this the most natural thing in the world; the rest of us must learn how. And learn we can.

The good news is that, because charisma is based on behaviour, it can be measured—and it can be cultivated. Anyone can decide to become more charismatic and, simply by assimilating the behaviours that will be deemed charismatic by his or her target audience, that person can raise his or her perceived charisma in pretty much any situation.

This is especially good news for business leaders, for whom charisma is an absolutely indispensable element of success in modern business.

If you wish to, you can become a genuinely charismatic leader.

Definition of Leadership Charisma

Not wishing to add any further confusion to the already confusing topic of “general” charisma, we decided that there was need for a new term for that particular type of charisma that all business leaders must aspire to. This kind of charisma includes all of the usual attributes associated with charisma, but also a focus on driving employee engagement and bottom-line results. The term we settled on was “Leadership Charisma.”

We defined what charismatic leaders do as follows:

“Charismatic leaders create and maintain a work environment where people are emotionally and intellectually committed to the organisations’ goals. They build an energetic and positive attitude in others and inspire them to do their very best. In doing so they create a common sense of purpose where people are more inclined to invest extra energy and even some of their own time in their work.”

That’s Leadership Charisma


Are you interested in leadership charisma? Do you want to become a more charismatic leader? Then you might want to read the book Leadership Charisma written by Bud Haney, Jim Sirbasku and Deiric McCann. The book will give you all the answers you need to embark on the path to becoming a charismatic leader.

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Topics: leadership, Charismatic leader, Charismatic leadership, Leader, Charisma, leadership charisma

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