The word charisma
(origin from the Greek
word χάρισμα (kharisma)
, "gift" or "divine favor," from kharizesthai
, "to favor," from kharis
, "favor") refers to a rare trait found in certain human personalities usually including extreme charm and a 'magnetic' quality of personality and/or appearance along with innate and powerfully sophisticated personal communicability and persuasiveness.
Although difficult or even impossible to define accurately (due to an abundance of wildly diverse criteria in regard to the trait), charisma is often used to describe an elusive, even undefinable personality trait that often includes the seemingly 'supernatural' or uncanny ability to lead, charm, persuade, inspire, and/or influence people. It refers especially to a quality in certain people who easily draw the attention and admiration (or even hatred if the application of such charisma is perceived to be negative) of others due to a 'magnetic' quality of personality and/or appearance. Related terms and phrases include: grace
, exuberance, equanimity, mystique, positive energy, joie de vivre
, extreme charm, personal magnetism, personal appeal, "electricity," and allure
, among many others
of these specific qualities must be present within a single individual for the person to be considered highly charismatic
by the public and their peers.
Despite the strong emotions they so often induce in others, charismatic individuals generally project unusual calmness, confidence, assertiveness, dominance, authenticity, and focus, and almost always possess superb communication and/or oratorical skills. Although the etymology of the word ("divine gift") might suggest that charisma can't be acquired, and despite the persistent inability to accurately define or even fully understand the concept, it is believed that charisma can be taught and/or learned. Others disagree with this assertion and maintain that it is an inborn trait, or acquired through growing up, and that it cannot be learned, taught, or 'gained' at will.
Charisma can also be used in a negative way.
The psychology of charisma
The term charisma, derived from Ancient Greek was introduced in scholarly usage by German sociologist Max Weber
He defined charismatic authority
to be one of three forms of authority, the other two being traditional (feudal
) authority and legal or rational authority
. According to Weber, charisma is defined thus:
...a certain quality of an individual personality, by virtue of which s/he is "set apart" from ordinary people and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities. These as such are not accessible to the ordinary person, but are regarded as divine in origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them the individual concerned is treated as a leader.
The study, recognition, and development of charisma in individuals is of particular interest to sociologists/psychologists, popular (usually national) politicians, public speakers, actors, movie-stars/movie-producers, casting directors, pop-music stars, trainers/coaches targeting the upper-echelons of the business community (CEOs), and academics or others involved in leadership studies or leadership development, among others.
In some cases highly-extroverted and brutally controlling charismatic leaders have used their personal charisma in extremely destructive and damaging ways throughout human history, for example, Adolf Hitler and Jim Jones. Yugoslav communist dictator Josip Broz Tito was said to be a "charismarch" - - "ruler staying in power by charisma".
Pierre Bourdieu did not have a very different position from that of Weber's, but he stressed that a leader has charisma only if other people accept that s/he has it. Bourdieu argued that charisma usually depends on an "inaugural act" such as a decisive battle or moving speech after which the charismatic person will be regarded as such.
Theories of charisma
Charisma has also been studied as a set of behaviors/traits
; for example, a modern psychological approach posits that charisma is basically aggregative, a conglomeration of distinct personality traits that meld well in certain individuals to form the broad quality known as charisma or "personal magnetism."
Theatrically, charisma can sometimes be "performed" on-stage and in films, and is encapsulated in both verbal and non-verbal communication.
As "divine favor"
As "personal appeal"