What is charisma, and what does it mean to be “charismatic?”
People like Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey are known for their charisma. Ask anyone what makes these individuals so unique, why they carry so much influence, and you will probably hear the word “charisma” come up more often than not. Are these leaders born with charisma or did they learn it along the way?
Some people are certainly born with separate elements that together are expressed as charisma, and others learn these elements as they grow and develop. Charisma cannot be learned, but the separate elements that make it up, can. Charisma is an indicator of Executive Presence.
The three main elements
There are two types of power: personal and situational. Personal power refers to people’s influence amongst their peers, and their personal feelings of how powerful they are. Situational power, on the other hand, refers to one’s position. Both forms of power can be worked on and increased. Situational power, however, can be fleeting along with the position. Personal power often sticks around after the position is changed or removed. For instance, what happens to a CEO’s situational power after he or she retires?
One component of presence is a person’s ability to be completely present and in the moment. It sounds simple, but with our diminished attention spans and the endless distractions surrounding us, remaining totally present and in the moment may be difficult. People with presence have mastered the art of focus, and are able to ignore the flurry of distractions.
Presence and power together are great combination, but without the magic ingredient – warmth – charisma does not shine through. People gravitate towards, and open up to, those who exude warmth and friendliness (view our blog post on the subject). There is no charisma without warmth.
Along with the four variables that influence first impressions (be sure to check out our four-part blog series starting next exploring these four variables in detail), charisma is one of the building blocks of the first impression we create. Because of this, charismatic people are often able to connect better and faster with those they meet. Many people are under the impression that individuals either have charisma or they don’t. It’s true that some are born with elements that, when combined, manifest as charisma. However, when charisma is broken down into its three elements – presence, power and warmth – we are able to see that these elements individually can in fact be learned and worked on along the way.
Are you charismatic? Self-reflect, ask for feedback, and find out if you possess power, presence and warmth.