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Can charisma be learned?

Can charisma be learned?

Charisma (from the Greek charys: charm), that enigmatic quality that attracts attention, inspires confidence and captivates crowds, has long been studied by psychologists, leadership researchers and those curious about the art of communication.

The question inevitably arises: can charisma be learned? Is it the product of chance or fate, or can it be cultivated and developed by those who aspire to acquire more of it?

Charisma is not simply a question of physical appearance or innate oratory skills; it is a matter of style, uniqueness and personality. It also encompasses a range of social, emotional and behavioural skills that enable a person to create a powerful connection with others.
Charisma is one of the significant ingredients of leadership, yet it is often overlooked in recruitment processes.

Charisma has a real physical component: the stature of General de Gaulle and the presence of Mick Jagger, but above all, it is personality traits that make a leader charismatic.
In our many interviews and recruitments of leaders, we have refined the components that make up a person's charisma.

First of all, as Max Weber explains perfectly, charisma is not a set of individual qualities but the belief of a group of individuals in the extraordinary qualities of a leader.
This is what gives it its incredible strength but also its fragility. If this belief, often fervent and capable of moving mountains, stops for any reason, the charismatic leader is stripped of this charm, this kind of divine grace.

Charisma is, therefore, fragile because it is purely subjective.

What traits are found in charismatic people, even if charisma is not formatted?
Charismatic personalities :

  • show their feelings,
  • are authentic, rarely copying other people,
  • are not arrogant because they don't need to attribute results or success to themselves,
  • are direct and determined,
  • are often subversive figures who challenge established traditions. Charismatic leaders often emerge in situations of crisis and renewal.

But is it possible to learn how to become charismatic or develop charisma?
A wide range of training courses help newly promoted managers develop their self-confidence and expertise, make an impact, and learn how to speak in public - in short, improve their charisma.

In some ways, charisma is a skill that can be learned and worked on.

A famous example is Richard Branson, who was shy and stammered when he was young. He worked enormously on himself and on the image he projected. He ended up acquiring that charm, which is the ability to make an impact on others. 
As not everyone has the willpower of Richard Branson, it is possible to get help from coaches, but be careful to make the right choice, as some will try to copy formatted modules. In contrast, the starting point should be the values and qualities specific to each individual.

To find out more, contact one of our Morgan Philips Talent Consulting coaches.

To summarise, authenticity cannot be instilled.
Charisma and charm are about having the courage to be yourself.

Charles-Henri Dumon
CEO Morgan Philips Group

Charles-Henri Dumon photo

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