Bill Clinton is said to have plenty of it; as does Steve Jobs. Bill Gates, on the other hand, not so much. Charisma is the theme of this post — what is it? And can we all learn to exude some/more of it?

The best definition I’ve encountered define Charisma as, “The ability to inspire enthusiasm, interest, or affection in others by means of personal charm, influence.”  Notice the emphasis is on one’s ability to exude positive effect on others.  I think as a society (the US society), we are too self-centered to pay attention to or care about others.  That explains why all of the leadership skill sets, “charisma” remains the most mysterious.  In fact, it often appears as if it were an invisible energy with which one was born.  I don’t deny some people are born more charismatic than others, but we can all learn to be a bit more charismatic by paying more attention to others.

The way I see it, there are two ways to exude charisma:

1. See others for their potential and believe in what they can achieve. Too often, we use history to judge one’s character. While there is nothing wrong with that, we must also realize that kind of approach only sees one side of the coin. If we want to exude charisma, we must not only see people as they are but also as they could be.

2. Inspire hope. Charisma is about creating the belief that tomorrow will be brighter than today, that the future is full of amazing opportunities and unrealized dreams.

Combine #1 and #2, and you get a group of people who associate you with the feeling of self-empowerment. When they believe in themselves because you believe in them, that’s charisma.

A wise man once told me, “A leader instills confidence; a good one drives your confidence in him whereas a charismatic one bestows his confidence in you.” If you are trying to build a brand/following/empire, which kind of leader would you rather be?