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Are Charismatic Leaders Born or Developed?

By Perry Holley | April 5, 2023
Are Charismatic Leaders Born or Developed?

In his new book, The 16 Undeniable Laws of Communication, John Maxwell says law number 7 is the Law of Connecting. The Law of Connecting states that communicators know it is all about others. Dr. Maxwell makes it very clear that the Law of Connecting is by far the most important idea in this book.

While content and connection are essential, good communicators know connection is more important than content. When you listen to someone talk to others, you know immediately what they value: themselves, their content, or their audience.

Until you connect with people, there will be a barrier between you and them. No matter how good your content is, people will not receive it as well as if you connected first. As Dr. Maxwell says in the book, others may be interested without connection, but they will not be inspired.

Developing Charisma: Be More Interested, Not Interesting

The chapter on the Law of Connection contains five keys to connecting. Number five on that list says that if you hope to connect, you must develop charisma. Is that even possible? Many think charisma is something you are born with. But charisma is a choice, and you can build charisma when you move your focus away from yourself and toward others. As John says in The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, people are interested in the person who is interested in them. That’s the Charisma Principle.

In Cues: Master the Secret Language of Charismatic Communication, author Vanessa Van Edwards says the formula for charisma is warmth plus competence. “Charismatic people signal warmth, trust, likeability, collaboration, but simultaneously, they signal competence, capability, power, efficiency.” She reminds us that we “love charismatic people because they’re both likable and respectable; both warm and credible.”

If you want to improve your charisma, here are some things you can work on:


Charismatic people believe in themselves and their abilities. They are optimistic, and they have a growth mindset. They are teachable and believe they learn and grow daily.


Charismatic people listen carefully, articulate their thoughts clearly, and use body language effectively. They show value to others by actively listening to understand and serve.


Charismatic people have a high level of emotional intelligence, which enables them to connect with people on a deeper level. To develop your EQ, practice self-regulation of your emotions and observe the effect other people’s emotions have on you.


Charismatic people have a strong sense of purpose and vision. They are passionate about their goals and inspire others to join them. When you are clear on your direction and why you do what you do, it adds to your confidence and ability to influence others.


Charismatic people are authentic and genuine. They are not afraid to be themselves and show vulnerability. Stop trying to appear perfect to others and instead express vulnerability to build trust.

Developing charisma requires daily focus and practice. When you do, you open the door to better connections with people and become a more effective communicator.

About Perry Holley

Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with Maxwell Leadership, as well as a published author. As co-host of the Maxwell Leadership Executive Leadership Podcast, he has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.

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