Antonakis, J., Fenley, M. & Liechti, S. (2012) Learning Charisma. Harvard Business Review. June 2012. pp. 127-130.

Learning charisma is a short article about importance of charisma when leading others and successful presentation tactics that lead to better perceived charisma/leadership. The authors argue that although you can not teach someone to be another person or extremely charismatic, you can learn charisma.

The authors identify 12 charismatic leadership tactics that help anyone to present things better and even succeed better in one-to-one communication. The tactics are:

  • metaphors, similes and analogies
  • stories and anecdotes
  • contrasts
  • rhetoric questions
  • three-part lists
  • expressions of moral conviction
  • reflections of the group’s sentiments
  • the setting of high goals
  • conveying confidence that the high goals can be achieved
  • animated voice
  • facial expressions
  • gestures

The tactics are well known presentation and communication tactics. Still the authors say that the tactics are not widely known or taught in the business world. I guess, same thing could be said about engineering world.

In general the article is very vague. It would be nice to see better description of the research that identified the tactics as well as more detailed descriptions of the tactics. One of the authors has also written a book about leadership (The Nature of Leadership, Amazon link). Maybe more detailed information can be found there.