Defining Leadership

Charisma – Can We Actually Define It

Arun Pal Singh asked:

The word charisma has originated from the Greek word kharisma which means gift or divine favor. Kharisma itself comes from kharis which literally means favor.

Charisma refers to a rare trait found in certain human personalities usually including extreme charm and a magnetic quality of personality and/or appearance along with innate and powerfully sophisticated personal communicability and persuasiveness.

In short, charisma is often used to describe a seemingly uncanny ability to charm or influence people. It refers especially to a quality in certain people who easily draw the attention and admiration of others due to a magnetic quality of personality and appearance.

Today however it is believed that charisma can be taught and learned despite the persistent inability to accurately define or even fully understand it.

The study, recognition, and development of charisma in individuals is of particular interest to sociologists,psychologists, popular politicians, public speakers, actors, movie stars,producers, casting directors, pop-music stars, trainers,coaches and academicians or others involved in leadership studies or leadership development, among others.

Max Weber, a German sociologist defined charismatic authority to be one of three forms of authority, the other two being traditional authority and legal or rational authority. According to Weber, charisma is defined as a certain quality of an individual personality, by virtue of which she is set apart from ordinary people and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities.

These as such are not accessible to the ordinary person, but are regarded as divine in origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them the individual concerned is treated as a leader.

Charisma has also been studied as a set of behaviors or traits. For example, a modern psychological approach posits that charisma is basically aggregative, a conglomeration of distinct personality traits that meld well in certain individuals to form the broad quality known as charisma.

Though the term as it stands is extremely difficult to define, other similar terms related to charisma include grace, exuberance, equanimity, mystique, positive energy, charm, personal magnetism, personal appeal, electricity and allure, among many others.

Many of these qualities must be present within a single individual for the person to be considered highly charismatic by the public and their peers.

Charismatic individuals generally project unusual confidence, calmness, assertiveness, authenticity, and focus, along with superb communication skills.

We could not define charisma for centuries but the science is now getting a hold on this evasive mystery. The techniques are being continuously developed and individuals can practice to develop charisma.

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