Clearly we're all drawn to charismatic leaders. Whether we're talking about political leaders like JFK, public speakers like Zig Ziglar, or trainers like Anthony Robbins, how does the charisma or strength of a leader impact a team, pro or con?

We've become increasingly conditioned to being entertained, via television dramas, commercials, movies, and talk shows. The messages are getting shorter, more provocative, and persistent, in attempts to get our attention in the rising sea of information. A dead pan speaker, no matter how relevant and important the content of his message, is unlikely to be heard.

I've seen coaches and trainers who actually specialize in the "entertainment factor" to create more success in their workshops and events. After all, we're competing with Hollywood at every turn with hundreds of cable and satellite TV stations, flashy audio and video enabled Internet, etc.

Further, we've been conditioned to sit and listen to the "teacher," "leader," "speaker," up in front of the room and view her as the expert, authority, guru, etc. If this is true, I can't help but wonder, from the perspective of a facilitator, about the impact a charismatic group leader has on the empowerment of her group.

Will her charisma rub off on her group and connect them to their power? Or will her charisma inspire them to just sit, enthralled and entertained for the moment, having little impact on the work "they," and they alone, came together to do?

I've heard Charisma defined as a potent combination of inspiration and enthusiasm. To inspire means to exert an animating, enlivening, or exalting influence on others, and enthusiasm is a strong excitement of feeling. There's no question that inspiration and enthusiasm serve the collective good of groups at one time or another. And perhaps that's the key. Just as there's a time and a place to "use" charismatic, strong, or forceful leadership, there may very well be times when it could also hinder your group's purpose.

Some Thoughts on Using Charismatic Leadership:

- If you've been able to help get a group to openly dialogue around an issue they've committed to work with, then you've done your job as group leader and it's time to get the heck out of the way, at least for the moment. And it might well be that your charisma sparked the passion that got them started. Great job! Now turn it off and sit down!

- Though I prefer to be a bit of an introvert, I like to think that I can be a bit charismatic at times. Whatever the case, I actually don't mind being in the background and know I'm being a successful leader when I've worked myself out of a job, at least momentarily, and my group's cruising on its own.

- For those leaders who are charismatic and great at motivating groups to participate and engage, that very strength can work against you if you don't know how or when to get out of the spotlight. I believe this is ego work for the dynamic leader. See your charisma as a tool and learn when and when not to use it. Once you've stimulated and inspired your group, exercising your charisma may disempower them. A leader who has her group's best interest in mind will give them room to develop and exercise their own charisma.

- Silence is a much underestimated skill in this arena. And yes, sitting down and leading from within the group, literally, can work as well.

Author's Bio: 

Steve Davis, M.A., M.S., is an Facilitator's Coach, Infoprenuer, and free-lance human, helping facilitators, organizational leaders, educators, trainers, coaches and consultants present themselves confidently, access their creativity, empower their under-performing groups, enhance their facilitation skills, and build their business online and offline. Does leading or participating in groups frustrate you? Subscribe to his free weekly ezine at and contact him here to schedule a free exploratory coaching session.