We talk about charisma on our blog a lot. It is an incredibly important skill that carries many benefits.
One of them is a particular kind of authority and influence that we know as charismatic leadership. The combination of compelling charisma, unshakable confidence, and limitless ambition of the leader gives them the power to influence and inspire others.
In this post, we will help you understand the ins and outs of charismatic leadership. We will also show you what you can do to become the charismatic leader you always dreamed of being.
What is Charismatic Leadership?
Charismatic leadership introduces a leader with a persuasive, influential, and impactful personality and highly effective communication skills. These leaders build strong bonds with their audience and strive to change them for the better.
The Traits of a Charismatic Leader
Since this type of leadership revolves entirely around an individual with a unique set of skills, the easiest way to understand it is to look at the traits of such leaders.
A charismatic leader:
- communicates effectively,
- persuades and influences others in different areas of life,
- has a strong, ambitious vision and commits to it wholeheartedly,
- inspires others to take action and create positive change,
- is confident, but relatable and humble,
- can engage and connect with both small and large audiences easily.
No societal, emotional, nor physical chains can bind such people. They are who they are and are proud of themselves. However, they also care about greater goals, and they invite other people to help them achieve them.
You know a person is a charismatic leader when they empathize with and encourage people even in the worst of times. They help others improve and build resilience to prepare for anything in life, especially in workplaces. They motivate and inspire action.
Precisely, charismatic leadership is a form of heroism, a hero that helps others become that too.
Motivation is everything. You can do the work of two people, but you can’t be two people. Instead, you have to inspire the next guy down the line and get him to inspire his people.
Is There a Downside to This Leadership Type?
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though.
Charismatic leadership can take a wrong turn if a few things happen:
- the leader starts focusing on themselves more than on their followers,
- their confidence grows into arrogance and overshadows it.
The single greatest thing about this type of leader is their ability to inspire others and lead in the best sense of that word. However, when they sway away into self-centered behavior patterns, that benefit starts dialing down.
Yet another thing worth considering is that great charismatic leaders can easily become irreplaceable in their organizations or businesses.
How is that a downside?
We have to consider that if the leader ever goes in some other direction, retires, or something happens to them – the entire movement may suffer. A major downside of charismatic leadership is its dependency on a single person.
Is Autocracy a Form of Charismatic Leadership?
To some small extent, yes, but not entirely.
There are a few similarities between the two leadership types:
- Both revolve around a unique individual.
- Short-term, both produce results and lead to progress, in one way or the other.
- Both carry a particular operational pattern that the leader forms according to their preferences and ideas.
However, it becomes obvious that we are talking about two entirely different approaches if we examine the autocratic leaders throughout history (such as Hitler, for example).
- Autocratic leaders use power and authority (and often fear) to get people to follow them. They are intense and demanding.
- Charismatic leaders encourage their followers and inspire them to take action. They show empathy, understanding, and belief in others.
Next to that, the biggest difference is the long-term effects of each leadership type. While autocratic leaders certainly get things done, the charismatic approach offers a much more long-lasting influence and positive change.
However, that does not mean that all types of charismatic leadership are good and noble either. We will see that in our examples.
Let’s keep going.
What Are Some Charismatic Leadership Examples?
Here are a few historical and recent figures that are great examples of charismatic leaders:
- Winston Churchill – great communication skills; public speeches;
- Martin Luther King, Jr. – powerful speeches; incredible influence;
- Mother Theresa – vision and dedication to a cause; inspired others;
- Steve Jobs – persuasive; clear vision; not always liked;
- Charles Manson – dark vision and manipulation through charisma.
As you can see, these leaders don’t always have to inspire positive change, nor does everyone have to like them. They are remarkably charismatic but not always charming.
We have talked about the difference between charm and charisma before on our blog. This list of charismatic leaders is a great example of that difference.
However, you do not have to go down the history rabbit hole or explore biographies of different people to find great leadership examples.
In fact, there must be a person you are aware of in your professional or personal life who has this particularly distinctive personality. You probably know a person who can do wonders for others on a deep and emotional level.
All you have to do is spend some time with them and notice how they behave! Soon, you will begin to notice characteristics that make them so unique.
How Can You Become A Charismatic Leader?
What about you? Can you become a charismatic leader if you work on yourself?
Yes, you can. In this section, we will cover the six key things to consider if you want to improve your leadership skills and charisma.
#1 – Connect With People
If you wish to become someone who influences everyone and is a go-to person for many people, you have to build connections with them.
Talk to different people, listen to them, question them regarding their concerns, and ask them if they need help with a problem. Try to connect with them on a deeper level, even if your relationship is mostly professional.
Great leaders are not overly dominant. Instead, they build meaningful relationships with their team members.
The people around you should be so connected with you that they do not have to give a single thought before reaching out to you for whatever reason.
#2 – Work on Your Confidence
Easier said than done, right?
However, you can never push people to do better if you are not confident enough in yourself and your ability to encourage an important change. By radiating self-confidence, you send a message that your cause and your vision are worth following.
When you believe in yourself, you will attract people to believe in you. Many charismatic leaders are even confident to the point where it can easily turn into arrogance. That is where you should be careful and understand why quiet confidence is significantly better than the alternative.
#3 – Appreciate Your Team Members
Charismatic leaders are those who make their followers believe in themselves by continuous appreciation.
Appreciation creates a sense of accomplishment and the motivation to do better. Therefore, you have to make your team members feel like they are the most intelligent, creative people capable of doing anything.
Use your verbal and nonverbal gestures to show appreciation. Your team might be lagging and will still need to work hard to achieve a specific goal. Still, your appreciation of their efforts is all they need for that additional boost.
#4 – Master the Storytelling Skill
Charismatic leaders have a great command of their communication skills. Storytelling is one of them.
They know how to convert a boring story into a motivating one with a lifelong lesson in it. Not only that, stories are a great way to reach out to people’s emotions and connect with them easier.
Luckily for you, we dedicate a lot of time and effort to creating content that will show you how to become a master of storytelling. You can start by reading our ultimate guide:
#5 – Maintain a Positive Body Language
As much as your personality, charisma, and communication skills are important, so is your body language.
Some of the best practices to look and act charismatic include:
- sitting and standing in an upright manner,
- walking around with a bright smile on your face,
- looking people directly into the eye when they are talking to you,
- having a firm, confident handshake,
- listening intently and nodding as someone speaks to you to show it,
- giving your full, undivided attention to people by focusing on them and leaving everything else aside during conversations.
#6 – Learn from Other Charismatic Leaders
The skill of charismatic leadership is a complex one. Improving particular aspects can help you go a long way, but only by observing the masters can you fully understand how you can become a great leader too.
Start with a few historical figures that we mentioned and look for other examples you can relate to easier.
Whether it is an entrepreneur that inspires you greatly or your favorite aunt or uncle who has this skill – make sure to understand how they behave. Then, slowly do your best to implement the best practices into your behavior.
The chances are – you could already have the charismatic leadership quality in you. All it needs is some polishing.
Now that you know what a charismatic leader is, write these points down on a piece of paper and start working on your skillset. Hopefully, you will soon be motivating, inspiring, and encouraging hundreds.