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Charismatic leaders inspire and engage their people and, as a result, they achieve results from those people that are superior to the results achieved by other leaders.

This short series on leadership charisma will show you how you can become more charismatic and achieve similarly impressive results from your people.

Charisma is like a kaleidoscope

In the last post in the short series on charisma for leaders I introduced the research we conducted to identify what it was that business leaders who were perceived as charismatic, and who as a result engaged their people and achieved superior productivity from them, shared in common. That study was the largest ever undertaken into the nature of charisma in business (40,000 leaders worldwide were assessed by almost 400,000 of the people who worked for them).

Bottom line: at its most basic charisma is simply what others say you have when they really like the way you behave day to day, the way you treat them, and the things you say.

Charisma comes down to behavior – which means that any leader who cares to understand what behaviors drive charisma, and to take the time to learn how to make those behaviors part of their day to day leadership style, can become a more charismatic leader – and get better results from their people.

Leadership Charisma is like a kaleidoscope

We identified a specific set of behaviors that are responsible for driving a charismatic impact – and the good news is that pretty much every leader ALREADY has many of those behaviors as a standard part of the way they behave day to day. In all likelihood it is these behaviors that got them into their leadership positions in the first place. So every one of us already has many of the behavioral seeds of charisma in our default behavior.

There’s further good news: our experience shows that it is not necessary to assimilate every one of those charismatic behaviors to raise the level of our charisma in the eyes of the people who works for us. Even changing one or two of these key behaviors can have a dramatic impact.

Think of charisma as being like a kaleidoscope. In a kaleidoscope a series of mirrors set at angles to one another create fascinating fractal patterns when they reflect the tiny colored beads that share the tube with them. Each bead is reflected by each of the mirrors – and each of the mirrors also reflects the reflection of the reflection, and the reflections of the reflections of the reflections – and so on.   So, if you turn the tube and even one bead moves the pattern changes dramatically.

Your working environment is just like that – each of your behaviors is like one of those colored beads, and each of the people who work for you are like mirrors: they are affected by every one of your behaviors. And how they are affected by your behavior is reflected back to you and to every other member of your team that they deal with day to day. The reflections, and the reflections of the reflections of your behaviors are felt throughout your team (to understand more about the way everything you do and say affects EVERYONE around you should read ‘Connected’ by Christakis and Fowler).

So, if you change even one small thing about the way you behave in your interaction with your team it is reflected all around the team – having a dramatic effect on the way you are perceived. Assimilating even one or two of the charismatic behaviors uncovered by our research could have a dramatic effect on the charismatic impact you have on your people – and the extent to which they engage with you and their jobs to contribute superior results.

In the next post I’ll start to talk about some of the specific behaviors that the research uncovered as critical drivers of charisma in business leaders – starting with the crucial role of vision.   For now, I strongly recommend you first read this post on two key attitudes of charismatic leaders – this will help you to understand why some behaviors have a charismatic impact upon others.


Do you know anyone who is obviously charismatic?

If so, what do you think makes them so – please use Comment below to share your insights