Charismatic leadership can be learned

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

WASHINGTON - Though much has been written in business management textbooks and self-help guides about the role that personal charisma plays in leadership, how do you measure charisma? That’s the question a professor set out to answer.

Until recently, no one was able to describe and measure charisma in a systematic way, which prompted Kenneth Levine, professor of communications studies at University of Tennessee, to seek to fill the lacuna.

Levine and co-authors Robert Muenchen of the Tennessee Statistical Consulting Centre and Abby Brooks of Georgia Southern University surveyed university students and asked them to define charisma, according to a Tennessee statement.

“Everyone has a leadership capacity in something,” Levine said. “But we found that if you want people to perceive you as charismatic, you need to display attributes such as empathy, good listening skills, eye contact, enthusiasm, self-confidence and skilful speaking.”

Those are the attributes social scientists can measure to more fully understand charismatic communication.

Levine says the most surprising result was that the students felt that charisma was not just something you are born with, but something you can learn.

Levine says the research makes the case for incorporating these concepts to better measure the level of charisma of individual leaders.

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