JamBerry Ltd

Monday, 21 January 2008

What is Charisma?

What is charisma?

Often, when discussing leadership, the subject of charisma comes up. Do leaders need to be charismatic? If so, is it something you can learn?

The Cambridge dictionary defines charisma as 'a special power which some people possess naturally which makes them able to influence other people and attract their attention and admiration.' Saying people use it 'naturally' may suggest you have to be born with it, is this true?

Well-known leaders such as Ghandi or Churchill are often cited as leaders with charisma, yet we could all probably name others who are very successful but seemingly quite ordinary. So how can you be a leader who is able to influence other people and able to attract their attention and admiration?

Something that helps is being clear about your operating values, the principles by which you live your life and conduct yourself as a leader. Having a strong set of positive values means you are more likely to have a clear sense of self, be grounded and have a framework for decision-making. This strong sense of self is also very likely to be communicated to those around you.

Another factor that is often present with charismatic leaders is a willingness and ability to take a genuine interest in those around them. Charismatic leaders reach out to others and show a real interest. In that way there appears to be an increase in energy when they engage with others. Ineffectual leaders on the other hand, often have little impact on the energy of those around or at worst, even drag energy levels down.

There are of course other aspects that can contribute to a leader's ability to influence and gain respect. Each leader can develop a style that 'fits' with them as individuals as well as meeting the needs of the organisation. This is where leadership training programmes and \ or coaching can make a real difference. Having an opportunity to explore individual strengths, values and style can lead to a real growth in leadership effectiveness and that is likely to translate into better results all round.

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