Charisma: Let’s Make it Better

This post was originally published  by sister website You can find out more about the methodology and the only  self-assessment profile by accessing that site.

Back in 1982, when VHS videocassettes were being sold in bulky boxed sets, you could have constructed a new Great Wall of China out of all the Jane Fonda home exercise videos sold that year. But though many millions sweated it out solo on the rug in front of the TV, many more opted to join a gym to get fit in company.

Lonely workout  in front of the TV?

Lonely workout in front of the TV?

In just about any realm of human activity, “making it better” isn’t just a matter of working out what’s wrong and then finding the means to fix it individually. As social beings we have a deep hunger for interaction, feedback and approval. And nowhere more than in the field of communication, where ‘no man is an island.’ Some things you simply can’t fix with a selfie.

You can't manufacture charisma this way.

You can’t manufacture charisma without others to help out.

Which is why coming to terms with the ways we affect other people, so gaining the self-knowledge to boost our influence, simply can’t be done solo. You can only see what communication style is working and what isn’t, by understanding how other people really experience you.

If you want to find out whether you have Charisma – defined as “compelling attractiveness of charm that can inspire devotion in others” – then you need the feedback mechanism that only people can provide. They’ll tell you whether or not you’re generating that instant rapport that inspires trust, confidence or acceptance.

Better together: feedback  and interaction  takes us further.

Better together: feedback and interaction takes us further.

Communicate Charisma acknowledges our social needs and collaborative nature by taking the group training route to “making it better.” First, our tools and techniques permit you to map, visualize and then enhance power we have to influence others, by making best use of each person’s authentic character assets.

We do this through an interactive workshop experience. This is a safe, confidential environment to help business leaders measure, become more conscious of, and test out new ways to let their communicative persona work its influence on other people.

The workshops are designed for:

  • Business leaders and senior managers regularly interacting with audiences great and small, such as shareholders, media, clients, policymakers or opinion leaders.
  • Developers, marketers and leaders of social enterprise seeking increased impact in their business negotiations with stakeholders and communities.
  • All present and future thought leaders who value effective communication as a route to career enhancement.

The workshop is where we share a methodology that allows you to map, measure and manage your own charisma assets – and at the same time become more conscious of the ways other people try to influence you. Being able to visualize the matrix of energies at work whenever we communicate, calls for a clear methodology. But this not a ‘Method’ in the sense used by actors painstakingly building up their onstage charisma.

Workshop with World Presidents' Organization

Workshop with World Presidents’ Organization

Our workshop experience is just one part of a simple, three-part process designed for busy business people who need to raise their game in the workplace, or wherever they interact with people. “Make it better” is a natural self-development goal, and this is how we can help:

1.     The Map: We first identify the ingredients that make up your communication style; both the way you project yourself in different types of encounter, and the inbuilt essence or energy that’s unique to you. You make a start at discovering this before you join the workshop, by completing an online self-assessment survey. This generates both a short summary and a detailed 18 page report of your charisma profile. The latter is only delivered to you at the workshop.

2.     The Matrix: During the workshop we walk participants through both parts of the Communicate Charisma conceptual matrix. First the Two-Dimensional Charisma Projection Profile composed of four sectors. Then the Seven-Dimensional Charisma Essence Profile resembling a circular clockface. Using structured role-play, participants gain direct experience of what it’s like both to try influencing others from each of these standpoints – and being on the receiving end. You’ll learn how to “inhabit” each of the behavioural zones in the two Profiles, as you and workshop colleagues give and receive constructive feedback.

3.     The Measurement: During the final part of the workshop participants begin completing their Personal Development Plan (PDP). This is a self-led, self-accountable programme to help you implement the insights gained both from workshop feedback and study of your Self-assessment Report. The PDP is a take-home guidebook for a 3 month personal journey defined by four questions: “Where am I now? Where do I want to get to? How do I get there? How will I know I’ve arrived?” The PDP helps you plan the route between “resolution” and “outcomes” by tracking how you get on at your selected upcoming events. It measures the changes you set yourself.

This approach is designed to improve communications effectiveness by harnessing your own unique qualities – rather than repeating a learned formula. We’ll show how your charisma can make things better by shaping a truly authentic communication style that fits you best.

We believe useful workshops need to be experiential. Busy people need to lean forward and try out new stuff – not just sit back and hear how it’s done. So participants are encouraged to dive right in.

Performance and feedback 'makes it better'

Performance and feedback helps ‘make it better’

This training course will enable you to:

  • Understand what’s needed for creating instant rapport with people, breaking down barriers and winning trust.
  • Understand how to adapt your style of communication to situations and audience needs.
  • Identify and optimise the character assets you can use for effective communication.
  • Select the ‘communication terrain’ that best suits your personality type.
  • Avoid communication styles outside your comfort zone that may trigger negative responses.
  • Understand the hidden techniques others are using to try and influence you.
  • Plan and develop strategies to ensure people understand your message and embrace your calls to action.
  • Build a communication skills plan to ensure continuous personal improvement.

Specifically, we will practice what it’s like to “inhabit” each the zones or dimensions in the Charisma matrix from which both the projection profile and the essence profile are composed. As well as seeing and giving feedback to others when they consciously adopt these modes, workshop participants get a chance to try out them out for ourselves.

So in the two-dimensional projection map, participants experience the difference between communication styles based on persuasion, and those based on empathy. Similarly, the high-energy communication styles commonly adopted for large groups, are mostly quite different from more intimate behaviours we use with small groups.

Fig 9

Experiential learning to “inhabit” different charisma dimensions

In the circular seven-dimensional charisma essence map, we work around the separate dimensions: exploring Self-Assurance, Drive, Vision, Collaboration, Empathy, Beliefs, and Values.

Oprah Winfrey, First Lady of TV charisma

Where does your charisma essence reside?

The Communicate Charisma Workshop also includes the following topic areas:

  • Defining charisma and the way it is used all around you.
  • The role of personal charisma in effective communication.
  • How great communicators influence audiences great and small.
  • How to adapt your behaviour to emphasize strengths and manage your challenges.
  • Learning how people experience us directly, through interactive workshop activity.
  • Understanding your personal Charisma profile and locking in continuous learning through Personal Development Plan.

At Communicate Charisma we teach people how to become more engaging and effective communicators. In our Charisma Dimensions workshops, we use practical exercises coupled with our bespoke self-awareness tools to allow participants to understand and experience the impact of individual personality traits on how we are perceived by others. Together, we use these insights to develop a more effective and authentic personal style, and so raise our power of influence and communications mastery.

Find out more about our workshops.

Magnificent Maleficent: or communicating with the Avatar

The breadth and range of human nature is such that no person can hope to successfully influence everyone to whom he or she reaches out. For some, the effect may be too forceful or dogmatic; for others too timid, aloof or lacking in charm.

Nevertheless we all have strategies – built up unconsciously over decades – for projecting a communicative persona or behaviour that helps us to get at least some of what we want from life. We do this by using a distinctive style we know will win the trust and perhaps even the admiration of as many as possible of those surrounding us.

But could we widen our appeal and so influence more people? The answer is yes – if we could uncover our inner capacity to project beyond those known and familiar frontiers of behaviour. Public figures do this all the time,  adding depth, range and respect to our perception of them by reaching out for some inner opposite.

In a role-reversal from her on-screen persona of Walt Disney’s Malificent, Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie is a noted United Nations Special Envoy for refugees, visiting the world’s most miserable trouble-spots*. Stephen Fry, a genial chat show-host, raconteur and accomplished TV presenter, also campaigns actively for LGBT sexual rights.

Could this woman save children, not hate them?

Could this woman save children, not hate them?

For regular mortals, self-improvement manuals talk of boosting impact by “pushing the envelope,” learning to “swing out” or “punching above your weight.” But without the means to visualize or map these new areas, such efforts often turn out either fruitless, or can look artificial and insincere.

Communicate Charisma has developed a methodology to map, measure and visualize the ways we project our communicative persona. This identifies where we can expand areas of influence in ways that are consistent with our own nature. You can find out more at, where you’ll find more blogs like this one.

We have designed a simple self-assessment test that generates two graphic presentations making up a unique personality profile. The circular seven dimensional Charisma Essence Profile shows the assets and energies we bring to each interaction.

Charisma Projection Profile for an Evangelist

Charisma Projection Profile for an Evangelist

Meanwhile, a two-dimensional grid showing the Charisma Projection Profile demonstrates the style we use to influence those around us – and it’s the focus of this article. Each zone of this grid encapsulates a fundamental behaviour we have condensed into a familiar “avatar” or personality type.

Communicate Charisma's clockface of nine Avatars

Communicate Charisma’s clockface of nine Avatars

A glance at the Projection Profile will show why certain behaviour styles or avatars are unlikely to influence those tending to favour the opposite or “shadow” of that type. For instance, those adopting a projection style that’s strongly based on the Charmer avatar, may struggle to influence those accustomed to the arguments of the Persuader. And vice versa.

The centre ground is the terrain of the Mediator (serving as a channel connecting differing views or styles). Although the Mediator might appear to project a neutral “all things to all men” style, the more powerful emotions of respect and admiration are mostly triggered when listeners identify something of themselves in a charismatic speaker. This may call for passion and partisanship.

Let’s take a tour of each of the nine avatars identified in the 2D Projection Profile. This will help to show how individuals exercise their influence. And where each distinctive type can expand charismatic range by understanding their avatar and reaching out toward its shadow.

Nine personality type Avatars and their shadows

Nine personality type Avatars and their shadows

Don’t forget that while each of these nine zones around the “clockface” represents a pure personality type, any Charisma Projection Profile resulting from a Communicate Charisma test will show an ellipse covering more than one zone. So any individual type blends several elements.

And we’ve illustrated  this with  representative maps suggesting how the Angelina Jolie and Stephen Fry  might look. We’d love for  both of them to take the Communicate Charisma self-assessment test!

People often ask how we can help boost their charisma. Understanding and working with this grid is one part of the conscious process we use to “make it better.”

The Evangelist.

Strengths: The Evangelist is persuasive in projecting a popular vision for crowds, urging them to acknowledge his or her perspective, making this a classic leadership style.

Limitations: This approach can look thick-skinned and heedless of others, with a tendency to monopolize the stage. Egotists may care less about reaching out, and more about winning personal recognition.

Relationship Patterns: The Evangelist prioritizes Vision over Empathy, and Drive over Collaboration. The Evangelist’s compulsion to lead creates some blind spots, for mesmerizing people isn’t the only way to win followers and build influence.

Avatar and Shadow: The Evangelist loves centre stage; yet the softer, more intuitive skills of the Coach must also find expression if potential for influence is to be fulfilled.

Paths to Integration: Evangelists who understand sensitivity is not a challenge area but an added strength, will moderate what often sounds a strident tone, and widen their catchment area of influence.

Roles: Brand Management, Sales & Marketing, CEO.

Angelina Jolie: her campaign persona is far more than a pretty face

Angelina Jolie: her campaign persona is far more than a pretty face

The Persuader

Strengths: The Persuader exercises forceful influence on audiences great or small, because he or she has the self-assurance to win over believers and transform outcomes by force of personality.

Limitations: With a focus on argument, this can seem like insensitive or egotistical point-scoring, especially if the speaker depends on empty rhetoric.

Relationship Patterns: The Persuader prioritizes Vision over Beliefs over and Drive over Empathy. Yet a more relaxed and accepting stance could win over more followers.

Avatar and Shadow: The Persuader is seldom “off duty.” Yet the Charmer’s way of sharing Values rather than always trying to change them, is what gives added power to win hearts.

Paths to Integration: Persuaders able to see acceptance and sharing not as a challenge area, but as a source of strength, will unlock their power of Empathy.

Roles: Sales & Marketing, Legal Training. IR

The Recruiter

Strengths: The Recruiter zooms in on individual needs or aspirations, customising his or her appeal to each listener. This helps build a sense of confederacy or affinity.

Limitations: This unashamedly persuasive style and its emphasis on intimacy will be seen by some as “sales and marketing talk.”

Relationship Patterns: The Recruiter prioritizes Self-Assurance over Collaboration and Values over Empathy. Yet we’re most likely to experience a change of heart when others set aside their ego, to put themselves in our place.

Avatar and Shadow: The Recruiter’s need for building inclusive teams may betray a neglect for freedom of choice – precisely the principle the Facilitator uses to win over those resistant to forcefulness.

Paths to Integration: The strength to show vulnerability can be the most persuasive and authentic of all voices, sweeping away barriers to Empathy.

Roles: HR, Executive Selection.

The Campaigner

Strengths: The Campaigner is a powerful catalyst to change the way large groups make decisions. Preaching benefits to help shift perceptions, makes this an effective sales or marketing style.

Limitations: A tactical yet very flexible approach to changing minds can be seen as opportunist, while this approach may get little traction in intimate situations.

Relationship Patterns: The Campaigner prioritizes group skills of Collaboration and Empathy over individual Values and Self-Assurance. That means personal needs can be overlooked, for many resist attempts to make up their own mind for them.

Avatar and Shadow: The Campaigner works by building on common ground and shared opinions. Yet many minds will change only in response to the individualist and open approach of the Negotiator.

Paths to Integration: The ability to touch every individual in a crowd by opening a direct personal channel, distinguishes the leader from the manager.

Roles: Marketing, Learning and Development. OD. Corporate events.

The Mediator

Strengths: The Mediator is alert to feedback and chameleon-like in searching for common ground with others. This polyvalent communicator constantly tracks how well the message is being received and accepted.

Limitations: This diplomatic type can seem insincere or slippery if caught out trying to be “all things to all men.”

Relationship Patterns: A Mediator untouched by other avatars is rare. Profiles covering the central space will blend with one or more personality types around the ‘clockface,’ creating a more distinctive voice.

Avatar and Shadow: The Mediator is a channel connecting opposing views, placing consensus above his or her needs. This may recruit the ‘reasonable middle’, but won’t sway the more partisan. So every Mediator also has a distinctive streak.

Paths to Integration: As in life, avatars use the Mediator’s non-committal central terrain to reach out toward their opposites, and so expand their range of influences.

Roles: Senior management, Counsel.

The Negotiator

Strengths: The Negotiator’s patience and sensitivity builds loyal support because it offers a sense of companionship. This generates an affinity that influences outcomes and wins faithful allies.

Limitations: While persistence and personalised focus works well individually, larger groups may ignore the effect as lacking impact.

Relationship Patterns: The Negotiator fosters collusion by prioritizing Values and Self-Assurance over Vision and Collaboration. But this ‘petit comité’ approach ignores our collective hunger for shared endeavours.

Avatar and Shadow: The Negotiator prizes intimacy and even secrecy. This ‘divide and rule’ approach can stir opposition when interlocutors are really seeking collective solutions typically offered by the Campaigner.

Paths to Integration: While the expert Negotiator makes us feel individual and special, our tribal affinity drives a powerful need for social belonging.

Roles: Legal, Finance, Labour Relations.

The Facilitator

Strengths: The Facilitator’s power to put others at their ease by appreciating their side of the story, stirs people to change their behaviour. This person builds rapport through gregarious style and effortless performance.

Limitations: This style can appear manipulative if it used merely to entice or flatter. And small groups my find this ‘big screen’ style unimpressive or insincere away from the podium.

Relationship Patterns: The Facilitator fosters Empathy over Vision, and Collaboration over Values. This may appear opportunist to those with a commitment to firm principles or long-term goals.

Avatar and Shadow: The Facilitator uses interpersonal skills to energize the group without seeking to dominate it. Such discretion may not satisfy those requiring firmer, more overt guidance offered from the Evangelist type.

Paths to Integration: While the Facilitator energizes the group and builds momentum, every successful journey needs a clear destination and planned stages.

Roles: Communications, HR.

Stephen Fry: polymath TV host and presenter - plus active campaigner

Stephen Fry: polymath TV host and presenter – plus active campaigner

The Charmer

Strengths: The Charmer has the emotional intelligence to melt down resistance and lower barriers of mistrust. By mobilising emotions, he or she becomes hard to resist.

Limitations: Audiences requiring empirical proof will not be convinced by this smooth approach, which can seem a superficial attempt to mobilise the emotions of listeners.

Relationship Patterns: The Charmer’s forte is Empathy and Collaboration, rather than Drive or Values, as feeling good is his or her key to unlocking influence. Without empirical basis, this can be coolly received.

Avatar and Shadow: The Charmer adopts unconventional rules of engagement to disarm resistance, often without visible effort or any recourse to the logic or arguments used by the Persuader.

Paths to Integration: First impressions may glitter, yet seldom outshine solid arguments. Without these, the Charmer’s route to influence can seem risky.

Roles: Sales & marketing, Non-exec positions

The Coach

Strengths: The Coach creates a harmonious atmosphere using tailor-made emotional appeals that make sound intuitive sense. The blend of intimacy and emotional intelligence can overturn resistance based on logic.

Limitations: Larger groups may find this ‘petit comité’ approach unimpressive and its low profile lacking in style.

Relationship Patterns: The Coach favours Values and Beliefs over Self-Assurance and Drive, valuing the individual’s internal growth over received group wisdom. The impulse for personal growth can tire those accustomed to living by rules.

Avatar and Shadow: The Coach fearlessly deploys personality to reach the heart of the matter, without regard for status or hierarchy. This may be too demanding for those expecting ready-made solutions handed out by the Evangelist.

Paths to Integration: Any Coach exciting a spirit of personal enquiry, while combining this with a clear collective vision of the future, enjoys great influence.

Roles: Non Exec, Training and Development, Mentor or internal coach.






The True Voice of Charisma

We all know effective leaders make use of charisma to raise their influence.

But exactly how does charisma work? It’s a famous truism that more than half the power of human communication is independent of message or content, yet the expert agreement stops there.

Are charismatic leaders deliberately using non-verbal or body language? Are they consciously  influencing us through subtle variation of their voice tone? Or does a truer,  authentic charisma style ensure that a speaker’s personality shines through his or her narrative?

Charisma is the “extraordinary quality” we sense in others, according to the sociologist Max Weber. Yet unless we sense the effect is authentic and holistic, we’re unlikely to feel compelled to follow such a person or accept their charismatic authority.

Understanding the way we project charisma brings us an important step closer to mapping and measuring the essence of charisma, which is the focus of Communicate Charisma and its unique methodology.

The central insights of Communicate Charisma are based on humanist psychology and share common ancestry with long-established personality typing methods such as MBTI, which work for the famous and non-famous alike. You can read an article about this by clicking here.

In previous artcles we’ve tested the proposition that charisma is about body language. The  adoption of standardized “power poses”, such as arms akimbo, or thrusting one foot forward as advocated by experts such as Harvard Business School’s Amy Cuddy, suggest that ‘charisma leadership tactics’ may fail the authenticity test.  You can read another article about such learned charisma behaviours by clicking here.

Now it’s time to subject to analysis the proposition that charisma is experienced through voice tone.

New research seeks to show that listeners experience charisma  through the tone and frequency of political leaders’ voices. It also shows that small changes can dramatically affect the way people are experienced by listeners, at least in the laboratory. The research comes from the University of California.

HMVRosario Signorello, a post-doctoral expert on phonetics, voice quality and laryngeal biomechanics from UCLA’s Bureau of Glottal Affairs, has been researching the charisma effect of Italian, French,  and Portuguese speaking politicians.

You can read news reports about the research by clicking here, and clicking here. You can see an earlier version of his paper, which was previously delivered to a conference in Amsterdam in 212. It can be downloaded via the website or by clicking here.

Signorello presented his paper to the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) in October 2014. Entitled “The Science of Charismatic Voices,” the research proposes that whether leaders are perceived as authoritarian or benevolent may depend  on the frequency characteristics of their voices.

Voice power: the secret of charisma?

Voice power: the secret of charisma?

Signorello used 260 student volunteers to listen to speeches of leaders from Italy, France and Brazil that had been “delexicalized” or decontextualized so content would not influence their judgement. Volunteers matched the voices with 67 adjectives such as dishonest, scary, dynamic, and fair.

What he found was that leaders can manipulate voice quality to convey different types of charisma. Italians, for instance, associate authoritarian leadership with gruff, low-frequency voices that simultaneously have a wide range of vocal pitch. France, meanwhile, associate higher-pitched voices with more competent leadership. François Hollande and  Nicolas Sarkozy both have higher pitched voices.

In Brazil, the famously gravelly voice of trade union leader-turned President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, helped him secure two successful terms of leadership. Coincidence or not, Lula and his chosen successor Dilma Rousseff (recently re-elected for a second presidential term) have both suffered from bouts of throat cancer.


Italy’s northern strongman: Umberto Bossi

Signorello’s research show listener perceptions can change as voice characteristics change. Signorello cites the case of Italian politician Umberto Bossi, leader of the Northern League and a fierce critic of what he called “Roma ladrona” (thieving Rome.) Southerners and immigrants were also tongue-lashed during his charismatic, raucous and fiery speeches. In 2004 Bossi suffered a stroke (AVC) that impaired his voice. Signorello’s research showed listener perception of Bossi before and after his stroke changed dramatically.

The’s research used two scoring sets: one is the effect volunteers sensed, and the other tonal  characteristics of voice. Effect ranged between authoritarian/dominant, or more benevolent and competent. The other scale ranged between – wider or narrow range of pitch control, and lower or higher fundamental frequency (FO).

To make these conclusions clearer, we’ve superimposed the changed perception of Bossi’s charisma tracked by Signorelli’s volunteers, onto Communicate Charisma’s own Two Dimension visualisation of how charisma is projected.

Anyone who completes a Communicate Charisma online self-assessment will receive both a two dimension (2D) and a seven dimension (7D) graphic of their own charisma. Furthermore, each person contributes an assessment of a famous communicator, so contributing to our growing archive of public profiles.

Our 2D model is based on intuitive, easy-to-follow assessment of communication style. Does a leader influence most using persuasion, or using empathy? Does he or she achieve more powerful effects over large groups, or exercise more intimate appeal?

Figure 1. shows how the charisma projection profile (defined by the orange ellipse) can vary significantly between individuals, as a result of different keyword choices in their self-assessment.

Fig 1Broadly speaking, the Communicate Charisma methodology shows that individuals whose ellipse occupies the top left corner of the 2D grid use a more authoritarian and dominant style based on persuasion. Those with ellipses located bottom right, will use a more intimate and benevolent style based on empathy, as illustrated in Fig 2.

Fig 2Umberto Bossi never completed a Communicate Charisma online self-assessment. But  based on   analysis of hundreds of our 2D maps, we postulate he’d be yet one more politician occupying the top-left hand corner. Likewise, the way listeners perceived him after his AVC is very characteristic of  a figure occupying the right-hand field of our 2D chart.

Fig 3 and 4To be clear: we’re making a comparison between the real findings of Signorelli’s research on Bossi, and the likely composite assessment of many individuals completing Communicate Charisma’s famous communicator online assessments of Bossi both before and after his AVC. Yet our comparison remains a very valid exercise for showing how charisma really works.

In his research Signorelli characterised Bossi’s effect on listeners as authoritarian and dominant. Fig 5 shows the perception, while Fig 6 shows combination of  vocal  characteristics that created that perception. Before his stroke (AVC) Bossi had a low average of fundamental frequency, with a wide pitch range and normal modulation of the pitch contour.

Fig 5 and 6Figure 7 tracks the change that took place making  the Italian politician be seen as “a benevolent and competent leader, which is very different from the authoritarian perception” according to Signorelli.  Fig 8 shows shift in vocal terms.

Fig 7 and 8What’s clear is that although the UCLA research is based on acoustic parameters and not on personality projection as is the case of the Communicate Charisma word-based self assessment, there seems to be a significant corroboration.

Nevertheless does the vocal route tell the whole story of charisma? We believe that true charisma is made up of a wider and deeper range of physcological attributes than can be captured simply through voice mechanics. Voice tone is part of the story  — yet very far from all of it.

Communicate Charisma’s 2D projection map is based on a series of personality types that form the basis of ‘avatars’ that show different charisma types in action. Fig 9 shows how four quadrants of the 2D grid translate into core personality types commonly seen in political figures.

Fig 9In the case of Bossi’s own transformation through the AVC and resulting voice change, the results were irreversible. But truly charismatic leaders have the capability to match persona and to the needs of their audiences by changing vocal tone. A case in point is the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. I never interviewed her, but journalist colleagues who did told me of the husky, sexy tone of voice she adopted during individual encounters that was totally different from her usual strident voice on the conference platform of in the House of Commons.


Margaret Thatcher: surprisingly alluring

Plotting human influence around four personality types would also be an over-simplification. So Communicate Charisma’s methodology uses a more nuanced spread of “avatars” across the 2D grid (without mentioning the total of 144 variants our method produces when the 7D map is included). Fig 10 shows the arrangement of personality types upon which self-assessment results are overlaid.

Fig 10In the case of Bossi before and after his AVC (or Margaret Thatcher when giving a media interview), the transformation in perception is shown in Fig 11 and Fig 12 by the migration of the blue ellipse.

Fig 11 and 12All those who complete an online self-assessment are first invited to give their opinion of a famous communicator. The resulting data supports Communicate Charisma’s project to map and measure the charisma assets of public figures as a means of helping ordinary individuals to unlock their own power of responsible influence.

Figure 13 shows the composite picture of how three great public figures are seen by visitors to our website

Fig 13As you’ll see, there is substantial variation in the way Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Barack Obama are perceived.

It would be a fascinating experiment to see if UCLA’s group could conduct another test using tape recordings of these three English language speakers, to see if these findings are confirmed!

If, like me, you wonder whether a now-forgotten  regional politician like Umberto Bossi ever had enough charisma to attract a study from UCLA, there’s a second question: how far did it get him? Not far:  After helping prop up Silvio Berlusconi’s scandal-plagued administration in Rome, he was finally disgraced in a 2012 corruption scandal.

For this column, the votes are in: charisma may be projected in part using vocal tone or body language, but its true essence is greater than the sum of these elements. For that we must unlock authentic personality.

At Communicate Charisma we teach people how to become more engaging and effective communicators. In our Charisma Dimensions workshops, we use practical exercises coupled with our bespoke self-awareness tools to allow participants to understand and experience the impact of individual personality traits on how we are perceived by others. Together, we use these insights to develop a more effective and authentic personal style, and so raise our power of influence and communications mastery.

Find out more about our workshops.

























Fifty Shades of Engagament

Engagement among employees and teams is the fashionable ‘new grey’ of management communications.

Human Resource departments have seen to it that employee engagement scores form part of many company Annual Reports – meaning senior managers are now driven to improve scores year-on-year.

It’s all about igniting the individual motivation of employees so they will play an active and willing role in delivering the strategy, which makes personal good sense to each individual. This group experience of engagement certainly sounds sexy and alluring enough to come in at least fifty shades.

Engagement isn’t just a user experience. From a manager’s perspective, the active component of kicking off this process means being engaging. And that, alas, can betray a shockingly dull monochrome.

50 shades of grey - just dull grey?

50 shades of grey – just dull grey?

So how to make it better?

For leaders finding their teams post low engagement scores, manuals often recommend investing in an outsize toolkit of “leadership techniques and strategies” offering a straight line back to the not-so secret wisdom of Aristotle’s Rhetoric. You’ll learn how to jab the air with a forefinger, lift your voice into false interrogatives, single out audience members with a steely glare, or stand with arms akimbo, all the while sparking off rhetorical questions like a Catherine wheel.

Aliens might be fooled, but the rest of us know true engagement simply doesn’t work like that.


Employees want personality, not ‘leadership techniques.’

Translating company goals into individual motivation by appealing to enlightened self-interest can’t be achieved through “one size fits all” techniques that don’t take each manager’s unique personality into account.

We won’t go the extra mile for a manager until he or she has shown us both authenticity and personality. Generally, that means showing empathy and speaking from the heart, every bit as much as describing clear goals we can rally around.

So being engaging is personality. And, just like the colour grey, personality has many shades. To unlock the secret of how to become more engaging, we first need to define and map with much greater precision how engaging people really operate.

There are plenty of personality typing classifications that may help explain who we are in a static context – but not necessarily how we affect others in dynamic fashion.

Experience teaches us that some people have learned how use their personalities to lower our barriers of distrust, win the benefit of the doubt and get us on their side whatever the content of their discourse. Such engaging people aren’t always like us – or even necessarily likable. Yet they are influencers.

Getting Under the Radar

By temperament, we might favour the humour of the late Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais, or Mr Bean. But, skimming the radio dial on a tedious car journey, we may also feel a dreadful fascination in listening to right-wing talkshow host Rush Limbaugh (even with ratings down he still has 10 million listeners), or European nationalist political oddballs like France’s Marine Le Pen or Britain’s UKIP leader Nigel Farage. How on earth did they manage to sneak under our radar?

Dreadful fascination:  "shock jock" Rush  Limbaugh

Dreadful fascination: “shock jock” Rush Limbaugh

Like them or not, these people all share mastery of a single attribute that results in them being more engaging, characterised by the influence of personality in communication. It spans content, message, tone, and non-verbal communication too. This is charisma.

Charisma is how we experience the personality of someone able to quickly win over our attention, trust, even admiration. Charisma short-circuits the rational, cognitive process of “show me why I should believe in you and your plan.”

Of course, we can learn to use charisma to raise our own power of influence on others. For example, managers responsible for motivating their teams will become more engaging through effective use of their charisma assets.

So we believe charisma is the key to still-unresolved mystery of making a more exact science of being engaging in the workplace. And Communicate Charisma has found a way of showing you what charisma looks like in a simple visual snapshot or “X-ray.”

We’ve deliberately made in much more colourful than those shades of grey. You can find out more about our unique methodology on our website:

Charisma profiles of Great Communicators

Charisma profiles of Great Communicators

We can show you the charisma of Nelson Mandela (you can read our portrait of him by clicking here), Barack Obama, or Martin Luther King (you can read our analysis by clicking here). We can show you what a truly engaging manager’s charisma skill-set looks like. And because we can show you what your own charisma looks like, you can see what attributes to stress in order to become more engaging.

We can show you the DNA of charisma and how we’re related to well-known systems of personality typing (You can read about this by clicking here).  So, what does an engaging manager look like on the Communicate Charisma X-ray?

A common definition of successful engagement is that every individual wants a stake in shared success, and feels he/she has received a meaningful call to action. To communicate in such diverse fashion, an engaging manager should communicate across a broad range of emotional frequencies, allowing many different people to experience his or her personality.

The Communicate Charisma graphic enables us to see just how much energy a person brings to each of the seven dimensions of charisma, but also across how broad or narrow a range of circumstances they might apply that energy. For instance, it’s great to have lots of empathy. But if at a funeral you were only able to use the very same tone of voice to address the widow you’d used the day before when asking the captain of your neighbourhood football team to let you join, your condolences might fall flat.

Here’s the Charisma Essence profile of truly engaging manager and former EVP of a global multinational. Exceptionally, he has broad range capabilities in no less than four of the seven dimensions. You can see these as the broader wedges in each of the lettered segments below.

Engaging leader profile

Engaging leader profile

This manager’s energy level in any single charisma dimension is not high enough to suggest he’s single-minded or obsessive, while overall the circular chart suggests has exceptionally broad-based powers of engaging others. Proof of this comes in the commentary on his Collaboration type: “you know how to give your team a say – not just a task to fulfil.”

Broad range shows engaging manager attributes

Broad range shows engaging manager attributes

Unlock Your Charisma

Further analysis of the chart above shows how Communicate Charisma has addressed the question of “how to make it better” in two ways.

Firstly by providing clear visual tools to map, measure and manage exactly which personality assets you bring to any conversation. The problem with words like ‘engagement’ and ‘charisma,’ is that while we’re all quite familiar with their general meaning, we don’t have a forensic understanding or a visual means of plotting these effects.

Problem solved with Communicate Charisma’s, easy-to-use graphics showing the unique combination of “Charisma Essence” and “Charisma Projection” for any individual who takes a simple online self-assessment test. This generates a personal report that provides a baseline for every communicator’s journey toward wider and deeper self-knowledge.

Secondly, by practice and continuous improvement. Because charisma is the way others experience us, we need feedback mechanisms to monitor how other people are responding to our personal communication style. Because group assessment and sharing triggers this learning process, Communicate Charisma’s workshops provide a safe yet challenging forum for self-discovery. As follow-up, participants design and then execute their Personal Development Plan for ongoing development of charisma assets in their own time.

If it’s your responsibility to promote greater employee engagement, then it’s up to you to make a start by becoming more engaging. So  Communicate Charisma could just be for you. After all, people think in colour, not in grey.

At Communicate Charisma we teach people how to become more engaging and effective communicators. In our Charisma Dimensions workshops, we use practical exercises coupled with our bespoke self-awareness tools to allow participants to understand and experience the impact of individual personality traits on how we are perceived by others. Together, we use these insights to develop a more effective and authentic personal style, and so raise our power of influence and communications mastery.

Find out more about our workshops.


Playing Follow my (more charismatic) Leader

Transformational Leadership has been widely studied by executives in large organizations for decades. And today it’s relevant to those with responsibility for enterprises of every size and shape – and indeed to every individual.

Because we believe leadership is primarily exercised using communication, we explore how charisma can empower transformations great or small. And how those with charisma can actually set popular expectations – rather than just meeting and exceeding the expectations others have of them.

Great Coaching helped US become an unexpected soccer power

Great Coaching helps US become a soccer power

Strip away the management jargon and transformational leadership is really just what your grandmother was practicing, if she ever she taught you how to bake better cakes, or to sew a neater patchwork quilt. Likewise, the coach of every national soccer team that made it past the group stage at the 2014 Brazil World Cup, proved himself a devotee of the three-step skills rule:

First: Standardize and build absolute consistency in your chosen field. (Cakes that are never burned, never undercooked; passes that connect to players every single time.)

Second: Get better and better at what you do, till continuous improvement has delivered every last watt/gram/centimetre of efficiency. (Quilts that take less time, use less material; a shot on goal from every set piece).

Finally: Deliver breakthrough improvements through real innovation and disruptive change. (End-to-end creative play that wrong-foots the goalie and leaves the opposition standing. After perfecting cakes, why not try croissants?)

At each step, the leader will need to recruit followers by lowering their barriers of mistrust or disbelief. That’s where charismatic communication comes in.

In the business world, there’s no better example of this than the astonishing growth of online retailer Amazon. Back in 1995, founder Jeff Bezos built an online bookstore that delivered books cheaply and reliably, without his customers having their credit card details stolen.

By 1998 Amazon was piling on incremental improvements with advanced delivery options plus ever lower prices and interactive customer reviews; sites that spanned the globe, and by widening its range through Marketplace to today’s astonishing 230 million product lines.

By 2006, Amazon was in full innovation phase, launching cloud computing services, set-top boxes, the Kindle eBook, and ideas like the PrimeAir package delivery drone. Advanced CRM means customers just don’t pick and choose products –their preferences are picked and chosen by Amazon. Now comes the game-changing Fire Phone that, says the Economist, “will turn the whole world into a shop window” – only delivered through Amazon.

Three steps to global mastery: Amazon's rise since 1994

Three steps to global mastery: Amazon’s rise since 1994

At every stage, founder Jeff Bezos (now wealthy enough to be a space entrepreneur of the side) creating followers by setting expectations. Look back over the old business news TV clips of 15 years ago and you’ll find Jeff Bezos repeating over and over: “Don’t buy Amazon stock if you want dividends or a safe ride. We’re building a valuable company – but it will take time.”

No wonder then, that The Economists cover article on Amazon shows – perhaps only half jokingly – an astronaut delivering a parcel on the moon.

"To Infinoty and Beyond" with Amazon

“To Infinity and Beyond” with Amazon

Of course, there’s much more to both Amazon’s success and the transformational leadership concept than a simple three-step rule. Above all it identifies the next evolutionary step that comes after mastery of practical efficiency in the field of transactional leadership, or hierarchy in the field of traditional leadership.

These three leadership models were first defined by the German sociologist Max Weber in 1947. Crucially, Weber identified the transformational leader as using communication skills to set expectations and bring about change by articulating creative and visionary expectations.

Weber didn’t just emphasize that transformational leadership was a communication function. He specifically identified the ‘charismatic leadership’ qualities that set aside exceptional leaders as having to do with  the power to motivate or engage  followers through their  vision.

James MacGregor Burns, a Pulitzer prize-winning biographer of President Roosevelt and management guru, took the Weber concept further by showing how transformational leaders build influence that in turn generates respect, admiration and trust among their followers, sometimes causing them to emulate the leaders’ behaviors. These attributes of charisma were explored by sociologists such as the Wharton School’s Robert J. House (no relation).

In his 1978 book Leadership, Burns explored how transformational leaders used their relationship skills to accomplish common goals through motivation. This type of skill involves mobilizing, inspiring, exalting, and uplifting, rather than using power for its own sake. While transactional leadership depends on give and take, Burns described transformational leadership as a process where “leaders and followers help each other to advance to a higher level of morale and motivation.”

Empathy Profile #1

Mobilising, Inspiring Profile #1

Mobilising, Inspiring Profile #2

Mobilising, Inspiring Profile #2


In his 2004 Book Transformational Leadership Stephen Hacker probes a little deeper into what actually makes such a manager and what attributes accompany each character facet.

First comes enterprise mastery – or being “good at what we do.” This calls for analytical skills and drive or energy. Here the focus is inward and will likely focus on standardization (the first of the three steps).

Next comes interpersonal mastery – or being “good together and in the world.” Here the focus is outward and involves community and meaningful interactions. Often this involves the process of continuous improvement of process or actions (the second of the three steps).

Finally, comes self-mastery – or being “good at changing ourselves and the world.” Here the focus is on transformation itself –bringing ideas and change into the world. The crucial attributes for bringing such change into being both focus on communication. These are to be both creative and visionary. This, of course, is the third step.

As you can see, these thinkers established much of the groundwork upon which today’s discipline of Emotional Intelligence, created by Daniel Goleman, is based. Goleman’s recent emphasis on empathy as a leadership attribute goes straight back to Weber’s pioneering thought. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Goleman said that empathy and the ability to understand the emotional make-up of other people was a sine qua non of great leadership.

Crucially, Weber identified the transformational leader as using communication skills to set expectations and bring about change by articulating creative and visionary potential. He identified these as ‘charismatic leadership’ qualities.

It’s no coincidence that, just like Max Weber, Communicate Charisma works to visualize, map and measure this key leadership attribute. The charts you see accompanying the portraits of Nelson Mandela (above) and Martin Luther King (below)  depict the ‘wisdom of the crowds’ charisma portraits created by you online using our own system.

Think about any really effective leader you care to name, and you’ll see that his or her power to make a difference didn’t come from the ability to make the trains run on time, or to build a consistently better mousetrap. It comes from having the power to communicate potential for deep change of the kind that Jeff Bezos delivered through Kindle, or a dozen other innovations that have left both Apple and Google (no slouches themselves) gasping.

Vision Profile # 1

Vision Profile # 1

Vision profile #2

Vision profile #2

Transformational leaders don’t deliver change by meeting or exceeding expectations – they do it be setting expectations. And every time, that’s done through effective communication. Not simply knowing “what to say” (the message), or even “how to say it” (the narrative), but knowing “who to be” (persona).

In coming weeks we’ll look further into the attributes of Transformational Leadership. And we’ll explore a piece of good news: Everyone has some charismatic power of influence. Perhaps your persona manifests itself best through empathy; perhaps it’s through collaboration – or any one of the Seven Dimensions of Charisma we have identified and built into our methodology.

It’s just a matter of uncovering and then getting to know your forte as a communicator and influencer. And Communicate Charisma may be able to help with that.

Use Your Charisma to Sell Professional Services (Part III)

Charisma  Sells!

If you’re in the professional services business, you’ll know selling yourself effectively is 90% of success. Clients are buying your persona just as much as your expertise.

If a new client relationship  is developing well, you may notice the service has been effortlessly bought in without question and you’re expected to take your place at the top table as a trusted adviser.

But when  clients respond to your pitch with pointless questions, calls for endless changes, and then demand a discount, it’s a safe bet your persona has been disregarded and your light  is hiding beneath the proverbial bushel.

Are we each doing our best to help our light shine out?

Are we each doing our best to help our light shine out?

In the first scenario, clients feel the instant rapport that stimulates them to lower natural barriers of distrust. In the second, listeners are probably unable to experience the personal charisma that you’re hiding somewhere.

Traditionally, service providers have focussed on enhancing their technical skills to increase their value in the market place. But it’s not how many courses, seminars or workshops a professional has attended that may determine whether he or she makes a sale.

Charisma can do many things for all of us, but it can also help  sell professional services. In previous posts we have looked at the “don’ts” – unconscious behaviours or acquired communication habits that can alienate clients or rouse their suspicions.

Now it’s time  for the “dos” – a review of success factors in communication  to see where each person can use his or her innate resources to increase  influence.

This post is not about “sales technique.” Just the reverse in fact – it’s about recognising and uncovering inner authenticity that wins trust over time, rather than adopting a rules-based formula whose effectiveness may be short-lived.

prof servs 2

Whatever your stripe, charisma will help you sell more.

To view a definition of what charisma is and how it works, visit

Charisma is an amalgam of seven classic personality areas. These form the bedrock of all social behaviour, and for each individual we find a unique distribution of energy in each of these dimensions. What’s common to all charismatic people is that they are able to lower barriers of distrust and to quickly build a rapport that allows them to influence others.

The seven dimensions  and the classification of  energy types come from the Communicate Charisma methodology. This allows anyone to  visualise, map and measure their own charisma, using a simple online self-assessment. Via the work of Carl Jung, Communicate Charisma shares a common ancestor with other well-known methodologies based on personality typing.

We commonly associate charisma with being engaging, energetic, popular. But using charisma doesn’t mean being a popstar or someone famous for their power and influence. The quiet, influential and possibly grumpy person at the back of the room who crystallizes everyone’s thought and leads the group to a unanimous conclusion, is every bit as charismatic. Likewise in terms of effect, the dogged persuader who convinces the other 11 jurors to change their verdict is every bit as charismatic as the TV evangelist. It’s all about results!


Results, not flair, are true proof of charisma

Because charisma can manifest itself though restrained as well as effervescent styles, we will review the effects of  both high and low energy. However because we are trained to support  the “Goldilocks approach” or Golden Mean of behaviour that is “neither too hot nor too cold,” many of the most effective communication styles will lie right in the middle  of the energetic range.

It’s important to state there aren’t any Rights or Wrongs, just communicative behaviours that are appropriate to circumstances – or otherwise.

The charts below are extracts from the charisma mapping methodology developed by Communicate Charisma. This is based upon a simple online self-assessment available to those contacting  Communicate Charisma  here to request a referral code. The self-assessment test creates a report that shows in detail how each individual projects his or her charisma, and what  essence that charisma is composed of. The seven dimensions of charisma look like this:


How an extraverted, intuitive, feeling and perceiving personality might look.

How an extraverted, intuitive, feeling and perceiving personality might look in 7D.

Let’s review the seven dimensions of charisma and see what delivers effectiveness to communicators both at the upper and lower ranges, and in the middle.


High-energy Strengths: Positive aggression and confidence are certainly key attributes for alert service providers, helping to shift perceptions and drive buyer decisions. If don’t feel 100% confident of your service, why should a client?

Low-energy Strengths: Few CEOs want to be outshone by external advisers or consultants. So a combination of sensitivity and intuition helps those with modest Self-assurance to use tact to deliver positive outcomes.

Golden Mean: Confident.

Self assurance av


High-energy Strengths: Communicating what we know to be true without ambiguity or compromise galvanizes potential buyers and makes them want to “be part of it.” Expressing convictions – sometimes fervently – can de decisive.

Low-energy Strengths: Leaving would-be buyers to make up their own minds earns healthy respect. So quiet confidence and values-based conduct often earns more client trust than operating from an evangelist perspective.

Golden Mean: Convinced.

Empathy av 2


High-energy Strengths: Sharing spirits are contagious. Work is enriched when we’re sensitive to group dynamics and the needs of our clients. Collaboration types can build trust and get the best interaction with temporary colleagues around whom they’ll be working during an assignment.

Low-energy Strengths: Self-starters such as consultants must initiate tasks independently and take responsibility for tough decisions. Then they will be valued by managers and leaders. Outsiders are often chosen precisely because they must be detached.

Golden Mean: Team Player

Collaboration av 2


High-energy Strengths: Clients can recognize true change agents able to fire their people up and push them further. This hyperactive rush of energy wins sympathy for new ideas even when the style is demanding and perhaps even forceful.

Low-energy Strengths: A mature “laissez faire” approach that’s sensitive to circumstances can contrast favourably with misguided enthusiasm or dogged insistence.

Golden Mean: Motivated.

Drive Av


High-energy Strengths: Emotional intelligence  breaks down  rigidity and mistrust that often confronts external consultants. The rapport generated by open-hearted solidarity wins over those team members suspicious of  ‘outsiders’.

Low-energy Strengths: Cutting through emotional clutter to focus resolutely on the goal in hand gets results for external advisers. Making hard business choices is a lonely and responsible activity that calls for discipline and detachment.

Golden Mean: Understanding.

Empathy av 3


High-energy Strengths: When invited into the client workplace, those presenting ideas with integrity are ensured a following and will win the trust that increases influence. Firm refusal to accept compromises or yield to pressure also confers authenticity.

Low-energy Strengths: External consultants or service providers must frequently keep  positions open, showing tolerance and open-mindedness about other values as they negotiate a bigger role.

Golden Mean: Coherent.

Values av


High-energy Strengths: With Vision comes the power to influence and persuade clients to make changes, by showing them what’s just over the horizon. This can unite people and show them  short-term difficulties will pass.

Low-energy Strengths: A solid, fact-based view of life avoids dangerous ‘leaps of faith’ and  unproven or untested propositions. Focusing only on what is known to be true avoids disappointment, while reassuring clients of integrity.

Golden Mean: Perceptive.

Vision av

Every adult knows their behaviour should be context-sensitive and they should be attuned to  the  body-language of those around them.

But that advice is hard to follow because of the “somatic”  power of  old habits. As we begin communicating, we automatically slip into a default “transmission mode” built up over years. Influences from family, school and the workplace have forged our emotional anatomy in such a way that we may  unconsciously use communication styles that frustrate our own purposes.

Mapping our emotions onto the body

Mapping our emotions onto the body

One way to get a handle on this is to visualise what we are really doing, to understand why we are doing it  —  and then begin a process of change.

Traditionally, this is how actors learn “method.” But few business people — let alone  service providers — are ready for drama school. Instead,  visualising charisma by mapping, measuring and eventually managing it, offers a personal development route toward balanced and effective communications.

And when we communicate effectively, we create a rapport that allows us to influence others. And of course, that can mean selling more too.

If you’d like to find out more about the Communicate Charisma methodology and our interactive workshops, please visit our site to request a self-assessment.


2014 World Cup of Charisma

Every four years, the FIFA World Cup transforms a handful of sportsmen into household names, globally recognizable even to those of us who don’t follow football. Less for the goals they score, more for their style off the field during the tournament.

With up to a billion people following the month-long tournament on TV, the World Cup is both a laboratory and a public stage for the workings of charisma. We see the making – and the breaking – of sporting heroes up close.

Take it easy: this post doesn’t claim to show how you too can become just like Ballon D’or heroes Cristiano Ronaldo, Luís Soares or Lionel Messi. It’s just to point out that we all have something to learn from watching the charismatic behaviour of these star footballers.

Golden Ball: Stars like Messi are working your emotions

Golden Ball: Stars like Messi are working your emotions

So, as you’re enjoying the 2014 FIFA World Cup matches – and perhaps being transported into pure football passion – you can observe how these players are working just as hard with your emotions as they are with the ball.

What they are doing is using charisma to get us to follow them.

Charisma is the ability of certain subjects to establish instant rapport, so lowering barriers of distrust and thereby increasing their influence over others. Not just as for sportsman, but for all of us, for life. Charisma is the unique combination of behaviours, vital energy, verbal style and body language that makes up our personal communication style and helps define effectiveness in influencing other people.

Above all, charisma can be defined as the way groups can be influenced by certain individuals. The World Cup is a stunning display of how mass audiences voluntarily project their “followership” onto certain players – all because of the way they are perceived. To explore the definition, you can visit the Communicate Charisma website and get to know the Seven Dimensions of charisma.

Philosopher, poet - and charismatic player: Eric Cantona

Philosopher, poet – and charismatic player: Eric Cantona

There is no right or wrong about charisma, and what distinguishes it is not so much the way people project it, but the effect it has on audiences. German sociologist Max Weber defined charisma as the way leaders are perceived. He wrote: “What is alone important is how the individual is actually regarded by those subject to charismatic authority, by his followers.”

Becoming a hero of the ‘Beautiful Game’ is as close as our secular age gets to the charisma reserved in ancient or medieval times for saints and prophets. Previously we have looked in detail at the way star athletes like Usain Bolt transformed the 2012 London Olympics into the ‘Charisma Games.’

Winning influence, gaining trust and being rewarded with acceptance, are all classic charisma attributes that we associate with football heroes. Think of a few:

Diego Maradona used his "Hand of God"

Diego Maradona used his “Hand of God”

In the 1986 Mexico World Cup, the “Hand of God” justification used by Argentina’s Diego Maradona to explain use of his hand to score against England in a quarter final, undoubtedly contributed later to the mood of invincibility that secured his team victory against Germany, and the Jules Rimet trophy.

After the 2006 World Cup final in Berlin, when France lost to Italy on penalties after Zinedine Zidane was sent off for head-butting an Italian player who had issued racist taunts, the French captain stunned the political establishment to become a national hero and symbol of racial integration.

The art of  Head-butting: Sculpted tribute to Zidane

The art of Head-butting: Sculpted tribute to Zidane

Conversely, in the 1998 World Cup final against France, the psychological and physical meltdown of Brazilian striker Ronaldo caused widespread humiliation in Brazil that took years to recover from. It also took years for England striker David Beckham to rehabilitate himself after getting sent off for kicking an Argentinian player during an earlier stage of the same tournament.

Tortured legacy: Ronaldo's breakdown still rankles.

Tortured legacy: Ronaldo’s breakdown still rankles in Brazil.

And now for 2014, Brazil looks anxiously toward wing forward Neymar to take up the mantle of the nation’s leading sporting legend Pelé. Both men got their start at the Santos football club, and both have had their share of off-pitch controversy (Neymar for financial dealings with European clubs). Pelé, of course helped Brazil to triumph in 1958, in 1962 and then in 1970 in Mexico City, later becoming World Player of the Century.

Neymar showed Charisma in South Africa

Neymar showed Charisma in South Africa, saluting a young pitch invader.

As we’ll see, one of the characteristics of Charisma is “being a tough act to follow.” Pelé had it – and still has – by the bucket-load, so host-country pressure on the slim, 62 Kg Neymar is intense.

And so it has been through decades of European football, where the best-known legends have been those with strong and often tortured personalities, such as poet-philosopher Eric Cantona, tearaway humourist George Best, pugnacious Ruud van Nistelrooy, and ‘flawed genius’ Paul Gascoigne. Latterly, Italy’s “Super Mario” Balotelli of AC Milan has clowned his way to stardom.

Best at football. Best joker. Simply George Best

Best at football. Best joker. Simply George Best

For them, carefully-nurtured charisma off the field surely contributed to the myth of invincibility during play. Sometimes, as in the case of Gary Lineker, it’s opened the way to lucrative media careers.

The managers who inhabit the liveliest space in the popular imagination are the charismatic ones — figures such as José Mourinho of Chelsea or Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United. This last redoubled his charisma simply by leaving the stage. The failure of successor David Moyes to continue Manchester United’s winning run after Ferguson’s retirement simply confirmed the former’s charismatic status.

Sir Alex Ferguson proved an impossible act to follow.

Sir Alex Ferguson proved an impossible act to follow.

How do we know that the 2014 FIFA World Cup stars really have charisma? Well, we can become part of a collective intelligence or “the wisdom of crowds” to measure it.

Communicate Charisma has developed a methodology to map, measure and visualise personal charisma. Though it’s primarily a tool for personal development, we can also apply it to understand the charismatic behaviour of famous individuals, from Martin Luther King, to Barack Obama and even Christiano Ronaldo.

Using online tools, Communicate Charisma is now collecting popular judgements about the style of  ‘Great Communicators’ from politics, international affairs, celebrity and, yes – from sport.

Oprah Winfrey, First Lady of TV charisma

Oprah Winfrey, First Lady of TV charisma


You can complete the assessment of a “Great Communicator” by following this link. You’ll be helping us to build a database of Great Communicators – sporting or otherwise. Thanks to collective intelligence, the more people completing the surveys, the more accurate the portraits we can publish.

Enjoy the World Cup! And gain extra insight into the games by seeing how the greatest players don’t simply exhibit ball control – they have ‘charisma control’ too.

Communicate Charisma Seven Dimension plot yields 105 variants

How the map for a hard-driving but empathy-challenged World Cup striker might look.