Charisma is sometimes described as a special gift or mysterious power.  When the idea of charisma is applied to leadership, we might interpret it as a gift that seems to be given arbitrarily, in the sense that some people have it and some don’t, and the people who do have it are lucky.  Let’s look at charisma from a different angle. 

One of the most powerful sources of charisma is the ability to resonate.  What is it that makes a leader resonate with followers, or that makes anyone resonate with someone else?  We say that a message resonates when it “rings true.”  A message resonates when it strikes a chord with people, when they can relate to it (or they believe it relates to them), when it sounds authentic, trustworthy, credible, relevant.  In the same way, people resonate with us when we can relate to them, and we feel as though they relate to us; they strike a chord with us.  They resonate with us because we believe they are authentic, trustworthy and credible.  They ring true.

When people resonate powerfully and individually with us, we allow them to influence us, because we trust them, we respect and admire them, we like them, and we believe that they sincerely care about us; they care about what is important to us.

Charisma relies largely on the ability to resonate.  It does not take flamboyance or artistry to radiate charisma.  Charisma can be radiated through all kinds of personalities, intellects and temperaments.   Everyone’s individual charisma can be unique to them and still have powerful impact. 

If you have a genuine passion for bringing out the best in the people you lead, you will radiate vibrant, compelling charisma in your leadership that will have profound value for the people who follow you.

So charisma is not just a matter of having a personality that is naturally gifted for attracting people.  Charisma can be intentional, and it’s more powerful when it is intentional.  When charisma is intentional it is enriched with purpose – the purpose of bringing out the best in the people you lead, and leading then to fulfill the purpose that you share with them.

For leadership that has powerful positive influence, true charisma is about inspiring people’s belief in themselves and in their purpose.  That is why people want to follow charismatic leaders.  By increasing followers’ belief in themselves and in their purpose, you instill the awareness that they are better off because you are leading them.

One of the defining characteristics of leaders with genuine charisma is their ability and their desire to see beyond themselves to a higher purpose, and to instill confidence that the purpose will be fulfilled.