Can Charisma be a Bad Thing?


Sometimes It’s hard to talk about Charisma with busy professionals sometimes because it can have a few negative connotations. Are we talking about dating? Nooooo!

  • Is charisma a substitute for hard work and merit? Nope, though there will always be people who attempt to use it this way.

  • Isn’t teaching charisma teaching someone to be manipulative?

I really want to consider that last question. When you have charisma, people gravitate towards you. In addition, because of the deep emotional connection you have, they are more likely to be influenced by you. The only difference between a servant leader and a narcissistic leader in terms of charisma is the goal they deploy their charisma to serve.

Ask yourself, do you deploy your influence for the mutual benefit of the person and yourself, or just yourself?

So at the end of the day, having oodles of charisma is no more likely to be abused than any other skill such as strategic thinking, personal branding, or negotiating.

Charisma is not manipulative. The person with the charisma can be manipulative or not.

There is one hazard for people who start to get charisma. It has less to do with charisma itself and more to do with the power you may come into as a result. The thing we need to consider is how charisma gives a person a sort of elevated status among their peers. Eventually, this person may soar ever higher, like a hot air balloon sailing into the clouds.

As you sail higher and higher and look down at the people below who are getting smaller and smaller, a few things can happen.

You lose the ability to relate to people below you and more readily dehumanize them.

You feel that you are above the law and that the rules don’t apply to you.

You lose the rigor of judgment and thinking that got you here.

The antidote is to have certain anchors in your life like the sandbags that weigh down hot air balloons. One example is one that I’m fortunate to have in my wife, I mean life.

An anchor against getting too full of yourself is to have an anchorperson in your life who helps you keep your feet on the ground and gives honest feedback from the perspective of someone who cares more about you than how they can benefit from you. They will always tell you when you step out of line or start to get a skewed perspective.

The alternative? The Emperor’s New Clothes.

The bottom line is charisma is just a tool and neighing teaching it, having it or using it is intrinsically good or bad. The important thing is how it is deployed by the person who wields it.

Finally, when charisma leads to success, like any other success it can be heady stuff and without being anchored in life, you can lose your way. Caveat emptor.

Joe Kwon
Joe Kwon
JOE, the Connection Counselor is the host of the "Why It Works" podcast and author of the "Unlock Your" series of books. Whether coaching busy professionals or inspiring audiences, his goal is to help you unlock the best version of yourself. A student of Aikido, self-help book junkie, and shaved head proponent, Joe spends magical summers at Hogwarts and dreams of kokyunage. He is the founder of JoeKwonJoe Coaching, which focuses on teaching universal principles through embodied learning. Joe holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of Virginia, a J.D. from Georgetown University, and lives in New Jersey with his family. Joe’s first book, Unlock Your Charisma includes a ground-breaking definition of charisma that finally reveals the actual mechanism that generates charisma. If you can’t explain how something works, you can’t get more of it! Read more about it in his ThriveGlobal article: How to Develop Charisma — for real.


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Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo Delli Paoli

Interesting point of view.
Thanks for sharing



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