Not many would vouchsafe that Tony Blair was a great prime minister. Indeed other than his several wars it’s unlikely he’ll be remembered for much other than a widely held view that he misled the public and Parliament over the Iraq war. Nevertheless he has one quality that many business leaders and I suspect salesmen and lotharios would love to have: charisma.
Witness his performance last week before the Chilcott inquiry – the man oozed the charismatic stuff. Indeed he could well have a first class honours degree cum laude in it!
More to the point can charisma be taught? Can a charisma expert take a characterless twerp and turn him into a charismatic dynamo that can command attention and sway others?
Well Nikki Owen, who modestly describes herself as the UK’s leading expert on charisma and confidence, has announced her 2010 dates for her Audience with Charisma seminars. In addition to three events at the Globe theatre in London, she’s going on a regional bringing charisma to the citizens of Bristol and Brighton,Birmingham, Harrogate and Glasgow.
Some of these places need all the charisma they can get but surely not Glasgow?
The two day course features techniques and exercises including quantum physics, emotional intelligence, Neuro Linguistic Programming, kinesiology and reiki and dowsing. Dowsing? isn’t that what happens when there’s water shortage? Can’t see how that applies to a charisma shortage. perhaps the waving of a forked stick near Alistair “Big Charisma” Darling’s head could be the ultimate test.
My view is that charisma is inextricably linked with confidence, if not over confidence and position. And too much of it can be a bad thing – witness the reverend James Jones and his toxic mix of charisma and poisoned kool aid in the jungle of Guyana.
Yet Jones truly measured up to the Oxford English dictionary definition of charisma as a “divinely conferred power or talent and the capacity to inspire followers with devotion and enthusiasm”.
Which is why, to this day I avoid charismatic leaders offering me a free drink. For my 2006n thoughts on charisma training click here.