The 3 Elements of Charisma

Business people walking together in the city
Business people walking together in the city

We’ve all experienced the power of charisma.


You know when someone has it. You enjoy being with the person. They are interesting. They draw you in.


It’s hard to distinguish exactly what it is that you like about the person, you just know you like to be with them. They inspire and motivate you.


At different times in my life, I’ve had the opportunity to work with or be in the presence of influencers such as Zig Ziglar, Rudy Gulianni, Carly Fiorina, John Maxwell, Lou Holtz, Patrick Lencioni and even a few successful CEOs. It doesn’t take long to be captivated by these people and realize how their charisma helped them become world-class leaders.


People who have a high level of charisma have developed something special about the way they interact with people. They have a knack for connecting with people to quickly gain trust. They are magnetic and people want to follow their lead. They have a compelling attractiveness.


There are 3 key elements of charisma I see in people that we can all apply. Although I believe some people have more of a natural innate charisma, anyone can learn to be more charismatic by observing certain behaviors.


1. Connection – People with charisma seek to connect with people. They are present and focused on the person in front of them. Their goal is to be totally present with the people or person they are with. They seek to connect at a deeper level with each person, going beyond  a simple handshake and pleasantries. Here are some key connection behaviors.


  • Look people in the eyes
  • Smile big ( real, not the fake one)
  • Be the first to extent your hand for the handshake
  • Give a solid handshake
  • Listen intently
  • Keep smiling
  • Use your body language to show interest by facing the person, leaning in a little, and maintaining eye contact.


2. Warmth – Although similar to connection, warmth is about how you connect. Many can connect on an intellectual level by talking about work, sports, or the weather, but people with high levels of charisma connect at an emotional level that helps them to be perceived as caring and approachable. Here are some behaviors that will increase your warmth.


  • Maintain the smile
  • Use appropriate touch to provide a sense of closeness (hug, hand on shoulder/arm, prolonged hand shake)
  • Mirror the person’s emotions with your facial expressions (example: concern, sadness, joy, shock)
  • Ask the person questions about the things they value. Asking about family, kids, and where they are from are always good places to start.
  • Compliment who they are, not what they have accomplished or what they are wearing.
  • Default to humbleness in conversations. Make it about them.
  • Communicate how much you enjoyed the conversation or being with the person.


Power – Charisma comes from a paradoxical combination of warmth and power. The power I am referring to does not come from a title, position, or a job. It is how is how a person carries him/herself. It is not arrogant but is confident and secure. People with Charisma have mastered the art of displaying power with humility. It is often perceived as a quiet confidence. Here are some behaviors that will aid the development of power.


  • Stand up straight
  • Look people in the eye and be the last to break eye contact
  • Use a strong, confident voice
  • Where clothing that communicates your personal brand
  • Use a strong introduction (practice the way you introduce yourself)
  • Introduce and connect others (practice this too)
  • Communicate clearly and concisely


Of course it is much easier to identify the essentials of charisma than to live them. What’s encouraging is that anyone, through intentional action and practice, can increase their level of charisma. I challenge you to focus on one behavior each week. Practice the behavior. Observe how others use the behavior. Pay close attention to how people react to you when you exhibit the behaviors. Continued practice over time will eventually become a habit of charismatic behavior that will pay dividends in your ability to lead and influence others.