The 4 types of charisma (and how to apply them to leadership)

Everyone wants to have charisma, understood as that know-how in social situations that allows us to reach people, to influence them and to make them admire us in one way or another.

While that’s a pretty decent definition of how we see it, the truth is that there is a certain diversity of charisms. People as famous as Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Mahatma Gandhi, Steve Jobs or Winston Churchill were charismatic, but not in the same way.

Today we will find out what they were types of charisma of these historical figures and that it is possible to apply in leadership roles, exploring in depth what are the characteristic traits of each. Let’s go!

    The 4 most important types of charisma

    In ancient times, they believed that charisma was a gift given by gods, something one was born with or not. The Greeks, for example, believed that the Olympian gods gave a few lucky mortals the gift of being charismatic, differentiating them from other humans and giving them a divine advantage. Fortunately, this is not really the case, which experts in the field confirm.

    One of the leading charisma experts is Olivia Fox Cabane, who has worked for several of Fortune’s 500 companies.. In 2012, he published a book titled “The Myth of Charisma: How Anyone”. which explains how to achieve a charismatic personality using various cognitive and behavioral therapy methods.

    Fox’s work is based on scientific research, insisting that in recent years psychologists, sociologists and even neuroscientists have shown in a laboratory setting that charisma levels can be increased and decreased by adopting certain behaviors. It’s like we have a charisma bar and we can fill it by practicing certain techniques, like what happens in Sims games.

    Through her research, Olivia Fox explains in her book that, just as there are different personality styles, with their characteristic traits, we can also find different types of charisma, of which she highlights the following four:

    1. Charisma of concentration

    Focused charisma is based mainly on the feeling of presence and active listening. With him it is meant to convey to others the feeling that we are listening to them and paying attention to everything they say to us.

    Thanks to this type of charisma, others feel listened to, listened to, cared for and understood. It is also through the charisma of concentration with which we express respect towards our interlocutor. An example of this charisma is that used by Mahatma Gandhi.

    When we are talking and paying attention to someone, we have to be very careful with our presence because, even if we do not speak, our body keeps transmitting information. Body language is very important when communicating, and if he feels that we are distracted and inattentive, the other person will catch up to him and think that we are not paying attention to him. Active listening is key, along with some degree of patience.

    It should be noted that the focus charisma presents two main risks:

    • In case they seem unimpressive or strong, it can be interpreted as a servile and submissive attitude.
    • If it is not accompanied by cordiality and a certain delicacy, the interaction between the two interlocutors can turn into a cold interview or an interrogation.

    This form of charisma it is particularly useful when we need our interlocutor or audience to open up and share information that, at first, would be difficult for them to admit.. This can be very useful in difficult situations such as negotiations or to relax hostile conversations.

    One should avoid focusing the charisma when it seems necessary to have a high level of authority or during an emergency situation, when immediate obedience must be assured.

      2. Charisma of vision

      The charisma of the vision is the one that makes the audience believe and feel inspired by the broadcaster, being a prime example of him the famous Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple. It’s a kind of charisma that can be extraordinarily effective, even if it doesn’t necessarily make people love others.

      Transmitting this type of charisma requires a certain ability to project full conviction and confidence in a particular cause, project or idea. It is based on power, but also on cordiality.

      Charismatic visionaries are not always nice people, but they feel their vision with passionate passion., and in order for his vision to be seen as something charismatically appealing, it must include some degree of selflessness, cordiality, and kindness.

      This type of charisma presents a very dangerous risk which is to captivate people to join movements or societies which may hurt them. One can easily understand this knowing that cult leaders often use a visionary charisma, even going so far as to inspire absurd ideas and motivate actions as obviously harmful as committing collective suicide, as in the case of Jonestown, directed by James Warren “Jim” Jones.

        3. The charisma of kindness

        As the name suggests, the charisma of kindness he is characterized by cordiality and kindness. It is the one that connects people’s hearts and makes us feel appreciated, understood, welcomed and above all accepted.

        here the most important area is the face, whose most benevolent charismatic body language is expressed through the gaze, through the eyes. Teresa of Calcutta is a prime example of a charismatically kind person.

        To express the charisma of benevolence, it is necessary to work on aspects related to cordiality, such as benevolence, compassion, gratitude and indulgence. Gestures that convey tension, intimidation, coldness or criticism should be avoided.

        Need to find a certain balance between cordiality but also with the feeling of strength. If successful, he will avoid giving the impression of wanting to please obsessively, showing individual power, willpower and freedom, but with the genuine intention of helping others.

        The charisma of kindness has the downside that by captivating people, they can feel disappointed, hurt or resentful when they are not allowed to be more present in our lives, especially if they have succeeded in being charismatic by. abusive flattery and excessive attachment.

        That kind of charisma this is useful when you want to make an exciting connection or make someone feel safe and trust us. This is very beneficial when giving bad news or when dealing with difficult people. However, this should be avoided if we are to exercise some authority or if there is a risk that someone will feel too comfortable, that they will not respect the boundaries between their life and ours. , and that he wants to involve us too much. his life.

          4. Charisma of authority

          Finally, we find the charisma of authority, which is the one who plays the most important role, although it has the disadvantage that what they have is not necessarily liked by others. This charisma is based on the perception of power and the belief that whoever has it has the power to influence the lives of others.

          The charisma of authority has the advantage of motivating our audience to listen to us and obey us often, but it also has a number of drawbacks:

          • You can inhibit the critical thinking of our listeners.
          • This prompts our audience to respond, so we don’t receive any information that may be of interest to us.
          • Maybe that makes us arrogant. It requires a certain degree of cordiality in delivering a speech using the charisma of authority.

          On another side, the charisma of authority is useful in any situation where we want to be heard and obeyed, especially in critical situations or when we need the immediate compliance of others. It should be avoided in social environments, in delicate business situations or if we want to encourage creativity and constructive reactions from our subordinates, especially considering what can inhibit critical thinking in our audience.

          The charisma of authority can be assessed using four indicators.

          4.1. Body language

          He is appreciated if he radiates security when trying to influence others. As with the rest of the charisms, this is the most important factor, as any sign of insecurity will eliminate the possibility of a charisma. of authority.

          4.2. Appearance

          Appearance it is used to determine the status of the person. You have to choose the right clothes which most of the time are expensive or look high quality.

          4.3. Title or position in the company

          The title or social position, understood as the place he occupies in society, his company or his social circle, implies a certain authority depending on what he does, even if the person himself does not at first sight show traits related to his social position.

          For example, if we know someone who tells us that he is the boss of his company, we give him a higher degree of authority than any of his subordinates, even if he is not behaving leading with us.

          4.4. Reaction of others to their presence

          How others react to the person is a factor that defines the degree of authority, security and diligence that that person has. If we see that others show him respect, we will assume that this person is in a high position. and he is someone who should be respected for what he has done or what he is doing to society or to a particular group of people.

          The charisma of authority, although it draws on the personality traits of the one who exhibits it, is very contextual. Since it is so affected by body language, we need to be very confident in ourselves when it comes to wanting to exercise authority. That is why we can use certain tools to try to get into a mental state that gives us security and confidence in ourselves. You should also pay attention to your posture, reduce unnecessary non-verbal gestures (for example, nodding your head too often), speak less, and speak with appropriate intonation.

            Which charisma is the best?

            According to Olivia Fox, no style of charisma has a guaranteed result in any situation. It all depends on individual circumstances and personality traits. Based on what the same author says, to decide which is the most appropriate charisma, we need to assess the following three indicators:

            1. Personality

            You have to choose styles, tools and techniques that best match our qualities and emotional states. For example, if we are hostile people, trying to achieve a charisma of goodness will be a difficult task, whereas it can perhaps serve us for a charisma of authority if we combine it safely within ourselves.

              2. Objectives to be achieved

              Depending on the goals we want to achieve, one or the other type of charisma will be appropriate. If what we want to achieve is obedience, we need a charism of security. If, on the other hand, what we want is to make ourselves feel that we are reliable people and that we care about others, we will resort to a charisma of concentration..

              3. Situation to intervene

              Depending on the situation or the context in which you wish to intervene, from two angles:

              • Emotional: assess how people around us are feeling and what your needs are right now.
              • Social: Behavior can be interpreted as charismatic in one culture while it is not in another.

              Fox himself cites as an example that the same degree of eye contact in Western societies as in the United States can be seen as a sincere and direct gaze, while in Asian countries, such as Japan or Korea, this same gaze is perceived as aggressive and intimidating.

              Bibliographical references

              • Fox-Cabane, O. (2012). The Myth of Charisma: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism. Wallet / Penguin
              • Bass, BM (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York: The Free Press.
              • Downton, JV (1973). Rebel leadership: Commitment and charisma in the revolutionary process. New York: The Free Press.
              • House, RJ (1977). A 1976 Charismatic Leadership Theory. In JG Hunt and LL Larson (Eds.), The Cutting Edge (pp. 189-207). Carbondale: Southern Illinois: University Press.

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