Does “Natural Leadership” Exist?We often hear people being called “natural leaders,” and it’s true that some people understand how to lead more effectively without training than others. These people are usually extroverted, have high self-confidence and are assertive with their thoughts and opinions. They may be more likely to feel like leaders and as such, leadership does come naturally to them. But leadership can also be developed over time, and the key may be one trait more than any others: charisma.
What Is Charisma?Charisma is defined as a set of traits that inspire confidence and trust in other people. It may manifest as being an outwardly charming or influential person. It may also appear as a powerful persuasion or abstract “likability” that can’t be easily quantified. So, what is a charismatic leader? Most understand it to be a person who has a high level of self-confidence and trusts their own ability to convince a group to embrace a common set of goals. When we think of people who have a lot of charisma — actors, for example, or politicians — they share a “magnetism” that attracts followers and disciples.
Is It Proven That Charisma Is Important in a Leader?How important is charismatic leadership in a business setting? Unsurprisingly, very important. To be an effective business leader, you need people to trust you. You need to inspire them to perform their best, and you need them to have faith in the goals you set for them. This theory about charismatic leaders has been proven by multiple studies. One published in 2000 in The Journal of Organizational Behavior studied the effects of different management styles on factors like trust and group performance. The study concluded that “The results show a strong relationship between follower reverence and charismatic leadership.” In other words, more charismatic leaders are better equipped to inspire confidence and rally followers around their mission.
Is Charisma Something You Can Learn?Based on everything we’ve said about charisma so far, it may seem that charisma is an innate ability, but thought leaders in the area disagree. Olivia Fox Cabane is the author of The Charisma Myth, a book that argues that charisma can be learned and practiced. In an article in The New York Times, she breaks down charisma into three pillars:
- Presence: The ability to live in the moment and be present in the conversations you’re engaged in
- Power: The outward expression of strength, poise and confidence that compels people to trust you
- Warmth: Your ability to be perceived as a kind, affectionate person