Maybe She’s Born With It…

17 Apr

How often have you heard the expression, “it just comes naturally to her” or “he was born a leader” about colleagues with strong leadership abilities? Think of the last leader you worked with: how was he or she able to inspire and motivate you? Where did this charisma come from? According to Olivia Fox Cabane, this charisma was not a gift given at birth. It was learned.

Human behaviors are not only inborn traits; they are also consequences arising from context, environment, and our ability to learn. Charisma is just another set of behaviors that can be taught to anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. It is primarily about learning how to influence people to do what you want them to do.

So how can you learn charisma? It starts with reshaping your mental state and making physical changes that portray it. Charisma requires adopting three necessary components: presence, power, and warmth.


Presence is being completely aware, focused, and engaged with what you are doing, allowing you to work as effectively as possible. The biggest hurdle in adopting this characteristic is overcoming self-criticism. Cabane advises clearing your mind before engaging in interactions that call for confidence and engagement.


Power is projecting a strong image through personal style and body language to influence the people around you. The way you act and dress can affect how others perceive you. Having a groomed physical appearance can also impact your own mental state and increase confidence.


Warmth is exemplifying goodwill toward others, which is typically the toughest component to teach. You must first understand your message and then match your body language with this message. Small actions such as angling your head a certain way during a conversation can determine whether you are perceived as being either warm or conceited.

We may not be able to change our personalities, but we can definitely change our behaviors. Everything goes back to our mindsets. As Cabane states, “whatever your mind believes, your body will manifest.” Once you can exemplify charisma, you’ll be one step closer to becoming a “natural” business leader.

by Lyndsey Douglas



3 Responses to “Maybe She’s Born With It…”

  1. Qinyi Gu April 23, 2012 at 12:55 am #

    I firmly believe that a person’s character determines his fortune. The seemingly unrelated factors, (who do you meet, what do you do, where do you go in the future) all depends on what kind of person you are and what you want to be. What you read shapes what you see. What you think shapes what you do. Every little detail is related and that is how big people became big.

  2. Christina Sukhu April 23, 2012 at 1:48 am #

    I like that you outlined three important aspects: presence, power, and warmth. I especially appreciate that you mentioned the last one because too often people assume that portraying power means you can’t be warm! Part of being warm overlaps with being present in my opinion — showing that you’re listening, dedicated, and truly present in any interaction with someone gives off a genuine warmth that says you care about what they have to say.

    • Lyndsey Douglas April 24, 2012 at 6:08 am #

      I definitely agree, Christina. People often associate power with harshness although it can be exemplified in many different ways. Warmth is an essential characteristic of effective leaders because otherwise one may be perceived as forceful and unsympathetic.

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