• 31st May 2006 - By proteman

    When I saw that my Monday morning LA Times included a feature article on charisma called The “It” Factor, I braced myself for a fluffy story about skinny Hollywood “it girls” or Brad and Angelina’s new baby. Refreshingly, it wasn’t. In fact, it was a well-researched, substantial article in the Times Health section that has a lot of relevance to being a manager in the corporate world (or “non-entertainment world” as we call it in Los Angeles).

    Not surprisingly, the experts say that charisma is an inherent trait, like creativity. Some of us are born with more of it than others. Yet the article by Janet Cromley also makes the case that people can learn to be more charismatic. Imagine the potential impact on the training profession. Some consulting company is going to make a bundle marketing a training course that teaches managers, salespeople and executives to be more charismatic. “Charisma 101.” A kind of charm school for Jack Welch, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Tom Cruise wanna-be’s.

    I joke, but in fact it makes sense. To some extent, charisma can be taught. Break “charisma” down into its components and what do you see? Good listening. Passion. Eye contact. Enthusiasm. Mirroring the person with whom you’re speaking. Confidence. Some of these are behaviors that can be learned with practice (for example, making strong eye contact or modeling confident body language). And a good therapist (or coach) can help improve self-esteem, boost confidence and develop a more positive attitude.

    Still, I believe that it’s like any other trait. Don’t count on any charisma-boot camp working miracles on someone who’s lacking impact. If you hire an uptight, type-A manager…all of the training and coaching in the world is unlikely to change her disposition. If you choose to marry a slob hoping to change them into a neatnick, you’ll likely end up divorcing a slob someday.

    Work your talents. If you’ve got charisma, go for it and use it for good. If you don’t have it, find other ways to compensate. Capitalize on your smarts, your analytical ability, your tell-it-like-it-is communication style or your ablity to nurture and develop talent. And if a good charisma course comes your way, give it a shot. You probably won’t emerge a Ronald Reagan or a Martin Luther King, but you can pick up a few tips to improve your impact.

    What do you think? Who’s the most charismatic person you’ve ever met…and what made them that way?

    ©2006 The Loyalty Group. All Rights Reserved. www.TheLoyaltyGroup.com

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