Charisma is often thought of as an ideal personality trait – but does it encourage leaders to focus only on goals, rather than the finer detail of how you actually get there?
From self-help books to YouTube videos, from public-speaking clubs like Toastmasters to public-speaking gurus like Tony Robbins, and from Jennifer Lawrence to Will Smith, Rihanna and George Clooney, we’re surrounded by numerous, glittering reasons to boost our charisma. It’s an inescapable, mesmerising state of mind – and a powerful amplifier for body language, too.
For many people, charisma feels like a kind of riddle that they’re itching to crack. Everyone who’s famous and successful seems to have a spare bottle of it that they can uncork, swig and bask in the effects of, wherever they go. We gaze at the bottomless energies, and easy-going media personas, of business leaders such as Richard Branson and Tim Cook – or of top figures in the Arts world, such as the Young Vic’s new artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah – and we wonder where they get their charisma from, and how we could get it, too.
Charisma is, in many ways, a kind of drug. But as with any drug, there’s a line of smallprint on the packaging warning us, ‘Results may vary’ – and an ever-present danger of getting high on your own supply.