I´ve been writing a lot about charisma. I´ll bet you might even be getting a little tired of hearing about it, but I think we can learn something here about what charisma can teach us about leadership and success. I used to think that charismatic people lacked a certain depth, that their dashing personalities weren´t quite real. I´ve sort of softened on that some and am beginning to understand that having charisma is more complicated than I originally thought. Here is part two of my interview with Ed Brown, III, chief executive officer of Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute in Atlanta. Mr. Brown believes that charisma can be taught. Let´s see how . . .
LGL: Charisma is an attractive trait, something we all seem to be drawn to, but what about what lies beneath the surface? Doesn´t someone ultimately need some substance, something to buoy what could be a rather flimsy exterior?
Brown: Ideally yes. However, there are charlatans who have operated as demagogues and never have to display any real substance or solutions. Unfortunately, many people associate charisma with these types of individuals and it has suffered as a result. The ideal scenario is to have compelling ideas and use charisma to impart those ideas for the greater good in society. Obviously, the greater good would be through the eyes of the charismatic leader reflected in the hopes and desires of the populous.
LGL: How would you define charisma?
Brown: “The creating of perceptions that impact the mind and emotions of others through flair, finesse and glib language.” “Charismatology” is the study of charisma and its impact in human relations.
LGL: What about image? How important is the way someone looks and speaks with regard to success in the workplace? Do first impressions, for example, really clinch someone´s opinion about an individual?
Brown: A power pact charismatic would have physical attractiveness and highly developed communication skills. First impressions are lasting, but the charismatic is conscious that he/she is always on stage. They are never unaware of the impact they have on others. They set the stage and are consistently creating images they deem positive.
LGL: If you were to teach a course to a motley crew of charisma wannabe´s, what would be the top three pieces of advice you would offer?
Brown: First, charisma is derived from a philosophy where selfishness is a virtue. All good and great things flow form individual achievement and creativity. Second, charisma is a conscious choice and every aspect of the individual has to be developed from highly evolved articulation skills to impeccable grooming…It´s about creating positive perceptions. And three, a relentless quest and desire to understand and master human nature.