There has been a lot written about leadership charisma, especially the pros and pitfalls of its effects on an organization.Most research focuses on four traits that charismatic leaders tend to demonstrate:

  • The ability to set a vision and develop creative approaches to achieving it
  • A strong capacity for self-expression, and the use of this skill to engage and inspire others
  • A high degree of self-confidence
  • The willingness to explore new ideas and approaches to thorny challenges, with an openness to taking risks in order to resolve them

Each of these traits can be expressed moderately or aggressively, but studies suggest that leaders with moderate charisma are the most effective.

These leaders are able to capture the attention and interest of their teams to successfully translate a vision in a way that encourages others to embrace it.

At the same time, such leaders are operationally focused and able to complete the projects that help shepherd their vision into reality, rather than bouncing around from one shiny object to another, without the discipline to follow through.

I sat in the back of a large meeting room recently and watched such a leader in action. A group of 150 managers from his company were gathered to participate in a three-day leadership development program.