A Charismatic Thought

October 15, 2018

A couple of weeks ago I attended a Work Redux event hosted by Pollen titled “Charisma.” It featured a panel of dynamic women leaders who all came together to examine the question: just what is charisma? Their insights were fascinating and surprising.


My biggest takeaway was that despite our differences we all tend to define charisma in a similar way. You know the type. Someone outgoing, confident, unapologetic, likable. Someone perfect. A fantasy.

I was also struck in listening to these discussions that no one defines themselves as charismatic. It’s always a figure that we look up to, someone mythic and unrealistic.

I learned that charisma should be defined as taking your flaws and owning them. Being confident in who are you and not trying to fit some impossible image. I gave this some thought and considered my own strengths. According to StrengthsFinder, my top strengths are what I’d define as my top anxieties. Winning others over is something I stress over in each interaction I have. Adaptability does not come without caution and stress for me. I can easily see other’s problems in a positive light but often fail to find the positivity in my own struggles.

Perhaps the fact that I spend so much time thinking about these things makes them my strengths. They’re definitely part of what define me. And instead of trying to change them or hide my insecurity surrounding them, I’m learning to embrace them. I’d encourage you to do the same. Think about what others would define as your strengths. What do others define as your quirks? Lean into them both. Chances are your quirks, or “flaws,” are what makes you strong as an individual.

I’ll leave you here with a handful of quotes that resonated with me from the event:

  • “Root your leadership in who you are. If it’s not authentic, people will know.” –Erin Murphy
  • “Charisma is self-care and caring for others. You can’t give what you don’t have.” –Norma Garcés
  • “Lean into the things that are right about you as opposed to wrong.” –Jessica Barrett
  • “We have to unlearn a lot of things to be charismatic.” –Jessica Barrett
    • Example: Unlearning to care about what is going to get you judged by others