Monday, July 23, 2007

What do you mean by charisma?

I struggle with the relationship between leadership and charisma. It is a complex relationship and a range of definitions for charisma adds to the confusion. What do you mean by charisma?

Writer, speaker and leadership coach Rhett Laubach provides a much appreciated insight by referring to charisma as care-isma. The label is brilliant.

I have written previously that there is no inherent link between leadership and charisma. My notion of quiet leadership is that charisma in the form of big theatrics and super powers is not required. Leadership does not require the characteristics defined in the classic and oft-cited definition of charisma by sociologist Max Weber. Weber's definition includes words like, "set apart from ordinary people and endowed with supernatural, superhuman powers, and heroic qualities."

I find Laubach's insight on care-isma just perfect. He writes,

People naturally like to be around people who are pleasant,
joyful and smiling. It is a natural response to a natural trait of influential people who are great at attracting others. Call it charisma if you want. I prefer to call it care-isma. It demonstrates you care about your attitude, you care about the influence you have on others, and you care about others.

This type of charisma, i.e. care-isma resolves the complexity for me. My less than super powers are quite adequate and I am happy to leave charisma to the actors, athletes, evangelists, and politicians. And the best news to me is that I can be myself. No other personas are required.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.


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