DevelopPEOPLE Blog: Can Charisma be Taught?

Can Charisma be Taught?

“Natural charisma” is often discussed when people describe certain leaders in our society. Bill Clinton, for one, is apparently tremendously charismatic in person. There are numerous other examples – people who just have “it” – power and personal force that compels others to listen and follow.

Is charisma something that can be taught, or, are some of us doomed to never satisfactorily command a leadership position just because we lack that “X” quantity that people describe as charisma? The first thing required to answer this question is the definition of “charisma.”  According to the Oxford English dictionary, “charisma” is compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.  That’s okay – not a great definition, though.  It seems to us that this definition is too mystical.  It doesn’t say anything about what charisma is.

charisma and DiSC

In the book, The Charisma Myth, the author goes further to describe what charisma is made of:

Charisma gets people to like you, trust you, and want to be led by you.  It can determine whether you’re seen as a follower or a leader, whether your ideas get adopted, and how effectively your projects are implemented.

Further, she says: Charismatic behavior can be broken down into three core elements:
  • Presence
  • Power
  • Warmth
These elements depend both on our conscious behaviors and on factors we don’t consciously control. From this starting point, Ms. Cabane goes on to describe a series of practices that anyone can do to become more charismatic.  The book is a decent read and unlike many books in this genre, it does provide concrete steps to take to improve one’s skills, rather than simply pep talks. One of the key takeaways from the book is that when a person is wholly present while communicating, people interpret this as charisma.  Empathy and the ability to really understand and be there for the people you are talking with or leading comes down to increasing your understanding of other people and of yourself as well. With a firm grasp of your own strengths and weaknesses, you are in a better position to assess how you can most effectively interact with others.  This is why I recommend that anyone who is about to move into a new leadership position receive a DiSC analysis.  This allows a new leader to become completely conversant with their strengths and weaknesses when dealing with certain team members before they are thrust into a tough decision. Visit this link for more information about the DiSC products available for emerging leaders, or feel free contact us directly.
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