What is Charisma?

by Dawn Billings, founder of RelationshipHelp.com

Charismatic theory has been around for a long time but it was Robert House who established it in the popular imagination during the 1970s. He sees charisma as a particularly powerful personality trait that only a few people have and which helps them stand out as leaders in the minds of others. Charisma is often described as a mysterious quality that you either have or you don't have, some experts argue that charismatic skills can be learned.


Charismatic leaders demonstrate particular qualities:

  1. They are role models for their followers.

  2. They promote an ideology based upon their moral, political, or spiritual beliefs.

  3. They display beliefs and values that followers are attracted to and wish to adopt as their own.

  4. They demonstrate integrity (they walk their talk) and competence (people trust that they know what they are doing) to their followers.

  5. They exhibit confidence in their followers to overcome obstacles and achieve greatness. (As in, living the dreams in your heart to make a positive difference with your life).

  6. They consciously build up the self-belief and perception of competence of those who choose to follow them.

Enjoy the short video below that continues to explain charisma:

I believe that charisma comes when a person is able to marry strength values and warmth values with an understand and respect for both. Therefore all people feel heard and understood around them.


Researchers at the University of Toronto carried out a large-scale study into charisma, involving over 1,000 people. They found that charisma consists of a mixture of what they called ‘affability’ and ‘influence’.

  • Influence was defined as leadership ability and strength of ‘presence’.

  • Affability was defined as being warm, approachable and pleasant.

Charismatic people are interesting:

Others want to listen to what they say. This is first because they have interesting things to say—such as a compelling vision, out of the box solutions, or a passionate plea to make the world a better place to live—and second, they have learned how to powerfully and effectively communicate with others.

They are often good storytellers, who are able to communicate their message clearly and concisely, but also injecting humor where appropriate to keep their audience attentive and focused. When they are in one-on-one, charismatic people will use open, relaxed, body language putting the people around them at ease. They will watch for feedback and clarify their message accordingly, all the while using lots of eye contact.


Charismatic people are interested:

They want to listen to what other's have to say. Charismatic people tend to be empathetic and considerate towards others, remembering details from previous conversations and therefore gaining respect and trust. They ask open questions to help them understand the views, opinions and feelings of others, even if those opinions are in opposition to their own. Because of their ability to make people feel heard, the answers they get will be honest and heartfelt.


People described as charismatic are emotionally intelligent, dynamic communicators but they also actively listen. People feel heard by them. They communicate is effective and even entertaining ways. Their actions earn them respect because they are humble, trustworthy and live lives of integrity. They are usually confident leaders who are intelligent problem solvers so people want to follow their lead. They are perceived as positive, optimistic and self-confident, persuasive people who by their actions, not their arrogant entitlement, earn the respect and trust of others.


Dawn is the author and architect of the Primary Colors Relationship Personality Tests and Insight Tools licensed by relationship experts nation wide. Dawn is the founder of RelationshipHelpAtHome.com and the creator of the comprehensive ONLINE relationship programs RelationshipHelpATHome.com Dawn is the executive director of the RelationshipHelpResort.com in Arizona where she hosts private couples retreat intensives to help heal and strengthen broken marriages.