Sunday, December 26, 2010

Charisma: A Misunderstood Concept

I often demarcate the difference between non-charismatic individuals exhibiting charismatic traits and a bona fide charismatic personality. The key to understanding the difference between the two perspectives lies in the ability to determine when something is similar, but not that thing itself. For example, one might describe a color as “pinkish.” Although it looks pink, it has differences that suggest it is not altogether the color pink. The same analogy applies to charismatic traits versus the charismatic personality. Charismatic traits may be better defined as “charisma-ish.” It may appear that we are splitting hairs here between the manifestations of something versus the purist form of a thing. However, concepts and definitions have very little meaning and utilitarian value if we cavalierly misuse or misappropriate terms due to lazy intellectualism or because something is illusory.

When we ascribe charismatic traits as being the end all to describing a charismatic personality, we dilute or taint the “specialness” and rarity of charismatic personalities. In fact, pure charismatic personalities are so rare that it requires observers a period of time to determine if they are witnessing actual charisma or mere glimpses of it. The charismatic personality, which is driven by an internal passion and missionary zeal, may show sparks of charisma throughout the charismatic’s life and at other times remain dormant. In other words, the charismatic personality is not always exhibiting charisma. He is not constantly spewing nuggets of wisdom or astounding the world with his brilliance. Often, he may be “picking his spots,” or looking for advantages to further his mission when times are not the most ideal for movement. When nothing appears to be going on at the surface, great preparation is being mobilized at the visceral level. This is a far cry from merely possessing highly evolved interpersonal communication skills.

If one were to peruse the mind of a charismatic personality, he would see pulsating energy, filled with color and verve, with seemingly discordant concepts loping after one another. This kaleidoscopic picture would inspire great emotions similar to the fast pace action at a circus, but it would all be aligned and sequential, if the charismatic personality was asked to explain it. The charismatic personality lives in the field of ideas and thus needs an inordinate amount of information in his efforts to complete a mission. Active listening, storytelling, eye contact and strategic touching are means of connecting to others to gain buy in. These traits are used to engage others by creating a sense of connection and magnetism as a conduit for moving the mission along.

Non-charismatic Individuals, who utilize charismatic traits, often have short term goals. Politicians, salesmen, and businessmen use these traits to achieve a limited goal like getting elected, making a sale, or being promoted. The charismatic personality uses the same trait as a long term strategy for transforming or revolutionizing an industry, country or status quo. For the charismatic personality there is no real separation between the trait and the actual personality. The non-charismatic is “acting,” and separates the action from his personality. The magnitude of the objective as well as an insatiable desire to achieve a goal play a large part in determining if one is viewing charismatic traits or the components of the charismatic personality. The charismatic personality has a long term objective, because he has committed his life to transforming an idea, structure or mode of thinking. The relentless, insatiable desire to obtain a goal bigger than himself is the root of the charismatic personality versus those merely exhibiting charismatic traits with limited scope.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Charisma: The Challenges of Open Communication

Charismatic personalities are often celebrated for their ability to articulate and maintain a strong command of language. To the charismatic personality, language is a double-edge sword that can build or tear down with equal intensity. While the charismatic personality is consciously aware of the power of words, he uses words as a source of influence and control. As a thinker, he knows intellectually how to generate specific responses to stimuli, but as one who loses himself in the field of ideas, he may not always be cognizant of the power of his words or his actions. Sounds contradictory? How can one be in tune with his power over words and still allows this knowledge to become lost in the field of ideas? This can occur because charismatic personalities often view ideas with less sensitivity than the emotions of others. People are the conduit by which ideas are manifested and often may take a backseat to the ideas themselves. In the field of ideas, charismatic personalities can experiment with various thoughts and precepts. Ideas are not emotional and do not take off-handed or misperceived comments personally. On the contrary, people take every nuance and connotation of language to heart. Thus, charismatic personalities must be ever vigilant over their words, because the passion and assuredness by which they speak can cause extreme chaos. The best place for charismatic personalities to frolic in the field of ideas is alone, because once ideas are brought to the masses; they must be delivered gently when emotions run high and forcefully when emotions are low. In this respect, charismatic personalities who speak cavalierly about critical issues do so at their own peril. If Carlyle’s idea of people being hard-wired for hero worshipping is accepted, then the deification of the charismatic personality beckons for a high degree of circumspection.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Charisma: Does Measuring It Make It Valid?

Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus assert in “Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge,” that “charisma is the result of effective leadership, not the other way around.” A recent report on the measurability of charisma co-authored by Kenneth Levine, Communications Studies Professor at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, suggests that traits like: empathy, good listening skills, eye contact, enthusiasm, self-confidence and skillful speaking are measurable by social scientists. After surveying students to assess the means of defining and characterizing charisma, these learnable traits were viewed as the hallmark of charisma. Following this line of thinking to its logical conclusion suggests that any individual demonstrating these traits would be described as charismatic. In this sense, charisma would be the affectation of certain physical traits, not a specific personality trait or worldview. In this context, charismatic traits are not inborn, but learned. Going even farther, one could assert that the world would have more charismatic leaders if only more individuals possessed these physical traits. This notion is contrary to the work established by Charisma Researcher Edward Brown of Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute.

Brown asserts that traits like eye contact, effective listening skills, enthusiasm, passion and other traits are the manifestations of charisma, not charisma in its pristine form. If everyone learned the skills for becoming more charismatic, there would not be a larger number of charismatic leaders, but a larger number of people demonstrating charismatic traits. Brown is careful to not “split hairs,” when demarcating the differences. The likes of Adolph Hitler, Alexander Hamilton and Martin L. King, Jr. represent perspectives of grand ideas that transcend the physical mannerisms of charismatic personalities. Charismatic traits are the means by which charismatic leaders express ideas. The reason there would not be more charismatic leaders in the world if more people learned these behaviors (greater eye contact, empathy, effective listening, etc…) is because these individuals would not necessarily be motivated by compelling ideas. This is the critical distinction between charismatic personalities and individuals exhibiting charismatic traits. In addition, when charisma is measured based on these physical attributes, the results could be a “false positive.” Yes, one may score high on charismatic mannerisms, but low on the ability to create transformational ideas. The distinction can be characterized as one merely going through the motions versus one who thinks, feels, analyzes, synthesizes and embodies a crusade or mission. To relegate charismatic leaders to mere “actors” would suggest that behind the mask is a chameleon who seeks merely to inspire good feelings within others rather than transform a specific human condition. This is largely why charismatic leaders have been more effective during times of crisis and instability. Charismatic leaders believe they are best suited for the situation at hand, which encompasses ego, narcissism, insecurity and visions of grandeur which are inextricable traits within charismatic personalities. Individuals who score high on charismatic scales would view such traits as oppositional to their self-image as well as antithetical to their ideals on charisma.

Measuring charisma and its manifestation is valuable for developing more effective interpersonal skills within organizations. The ability to coordinate and create alliances will always be indispensable to the viability of organizations. However, there must be a distinction between what it means to be congenial versus what it means to be transformational within organizations. To confuse the two would merely create more questions than answers.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Charisma, Products and Passion

The difference between a star and a genuine charismatic personality hinges on the star’s willingness to merely be a product and the charismatic personality’s need and desire to lead a crusade. To go a step further, it is the difference between a movie star and an artist/actor. The movie star makes movies to be popular, while an artist builds a body of work demonstrating the range and variations of his talent. A movie star may have a body of work, but it is like a high school student who joins organizations to enhance his resume for college consideration compared to a student who campaigns for student government, because he is preparing for a future in politics. The two individuals may very well become successful, but the future politician engenders something much greater than the “resume builder.” The student government official, artist and charismatic personality all have one thing in common---passion. Each is driven by a goal that begins with incremental steps leading to a grand design. It is the difference between Matthew McConaughey and Johnny Depp; Jerry Springer and Ted Koppel and Cornell West and Stephen Hawking. One group panders to the low brow in the theater of the absurd, while the other passionately and carefully considers each step to a compelling goal. Depp, Koppel and Hawking can provide a cogent, consistent reason for their work that has not deviated from the first time they opted towards their medium of expression. The difference between the two schools of thought is largely philosophical based on a specific worldview. The product driven individual sees the world as a business where fame and popularity can be traded. The passionate creator believes the body of work done properly and carefully can be profitable without having to look outside the medium for expression. To be sure, both parties realize the economic realities of the world, but choose to go about it differently. A disparity in the human will for excellence emerges when the goal of the individual is not to master a craft, but leverage it “half developed” for pure profitability.

Too many individuals are opting to take the product driven route without a balance towards the creation of excellence through disciplined passion. To rest future ingenuity and innovation in an environment of mediocrity and apathy is the cessation of what has made civilization great and sparked imaginations beyond our wildest dreams.

Invariably, charisma is a rare trait within any individual no matter what vocation he might participate. But, there is one thing that any individual can embrace under the charisma marquee, the ability and willingness to consider and care for the long term affects of one’s body of work. Passion is only one component of the charismatic personality. However, this one trait can ascend to the highest heights of possibilities when excellence is the goal.

For more information, visit: Charisma

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wanted: Charismatic Leaders and Ideas

Since the election of President Barack Obama, the conversation surrounding charismatic leadership has quieted. This is a dramatic shift from candidate Obama who regaled the world reminiscent of John F. Kennedy’s “Camelot.” Obama’s youthful vigor, enthusiasm and good looks were a breath of fresh air in an attempt to “reset” the agenda for geopolitics and commerce in a global economy. The world had waited for a change in business and politics and Obama seemed to answer the clarion call. What happened? How could a candidate who came out of virtually nowhere have a meteoric rise and then the connectivity and charisma ascribed to him become muted? The obvious question would be, “Was candidate Obama a bona fide charismatic or merely more interesting compared to the field of his non-charismatic competitors?” More importantly, is society so desirous of leadership with passion and a compelling vision that it will support anyone who comes close to this ideal? Suffice to say that when leaders, generally, and charismatic leaders, specifically, are not in abundance, any uptick towards a semblance of leadership is not only embraced, but revered. The fact is that charismatic leadership is scarce because there are too few people steeped in the field of ideas. Sexy marketing is in and the hard fought battle of reconciling disparate ideas and concepts is out. Contemporary society is witnessing the “dummying down” of intelligence in an information, digital age. Such a thought appears oxymoronic. How could the democratization of information produce so few great men and women of ideas? How could the great universities of the world not produce a sea of Einsteins or a phalanx of Alexander Hamiltons? Only in a time where one does not have to dig for information could ideas that produce compelling and magnetic leaders be quashed.

What is the connection between charismatic leaders and ideas?

When the mind is disciplined to read and absorb a great deal of information, it sees patterns and voids in ways the less intellectual cannot. If the mind is a computer within itself, it arranges ideas that seem disconnected into a tapestry of form. It fills empty spaces within the human experience with substance hoped for, but not realized until now. It is like someone having a taste for something sweet, but does not know what dessert would actually fulfill the desire. If one was posed options to select from, the person would decide the appropriate treat based on taste and satisfaction. Thought leaders who turn ideas into compelling visions do not create to lead, they create and the audience embraces the viability of the idea and follows. The thought leader revels in the field of ideas. Ideas revitalize, capture and spark new realities converse to mere existence. The individual devoid of ideas is a lifeless lump of clay. Better yet, a living, breathing, “Lifeless,” lump of clay.

Thought leaders with compelling ideas delivered with passion reflect charismatic leadership. They breathe life into individuals that either encourages similar initiatives or a renewed purpose on the part of individuals. The field of ideas creates these leaders, but one must be intellectually curious to wallow in the possibilities. Because the Information Age has not produced individuals with great intellectual curiosity, it has not produced an abundance of thought leaders who inspire hope and the manifestation of ideas. It has created people who regurgitate information as a means of satisfying limited needs (Term papers, answers to immediate questions, trivial pursuit, etc…), but not the next Alexander the Great, Emerson or Machiavelli.

Within any presidency or position of leadership, it is important to inspire hope and optimism, but at the end of the day, the continuous creation, processing and implementation of ideas are essential. The world can become saturated with entertainment, sports and even technology, but the field of compelling ideas with never be overrun. The charismatic leader chooses the road less travelled. To choose the road less travelled makes all the difference in the world.

For more information, visit: Charisma

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Prada" is a Charismatic

This review is from: The Devil Wears Prada (Full Screen Edition) (DVD)

"The Devil Wears Prada" is a staple in my personal movie library. Rarely has a lioness been more enticing or vicious in corporate America as Meryl Streep's "Miranda Priestley." Priestley is equal to task to Michael Douglas' "Gordon Gekko" in the movie "Wall Street." But, why do we love these characters that would do anything to achieve and maintain professional success? I believe "...Prada" is a microcosm of the world. Most people are afraid to wholeheartedly go after the "Brass Ring." When we see the likes of a Miranda Priestley (Streep) entering onto the world stage, we love and loathe her simultaneously for her viciousness as well as her victories. While she may exhibit somewhat psychopathic tendencies, she is not the shrinking violet many would have her be. In fact, her subordinates become victims of the "Stockholm Syndrome." While the fashion industry isn't a philanthropic endeavor, the characters become sucked into her vortex, enamored by the passion and sheer excellence Miranda puts into her vocation. Meryl Streep was edged out by Helen Mirren's "The Queen" for the Oscar, but it's Streep's riveting performance that keeps me repeating the experience.

Watch "The Devil Wears Prada" to be entertained and educated about the ways of the world. The most salient one liner in the movie was Streep's divulging a truism of contemporary society and its pursuit of acclaim, fame and fortune, "Everyone wants to be us."

Related: Charisma

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Charisma Of A New Concept

This review is from: Fling (DVD)

"Fling" is one of those "sleeper" hits. The kind of movie that doesn't have blockbuster appeal, but creates its own cult following on the DVD scene. Why? Because it challenges conventional thinking in ways that frighten mainstream mores. To engage in romantic relationships, where each party isn't attempting to own the other person, is counterintuitive to our Judeo-Christian socialization. "Fling" makes an overt commentary that might be missed by the typical viewer--conform or be alone. Granted, it's difficult to be emotionally detached and compartmentalized when feelings emerge in relationships. But, does the emotional conflict derive because we legitimately feel expectations from love or have we been socialized to respond a certain way, because of the societal scripts we read from? If we respond emotionally from the framework of our socialization, I suspect it'll be the later--we feel emotional connection from our psychological scripts.

"Fling" attempts to dissect and explore the emotional possibilities of "Free Love." In keeping with conventional wisdom, Hollywood let's the explorer lose in the end. Not because the idea is preposterous, but because "Free Love" would disrupt life as we know it.

I highly recommend "Fling" to the intellectually enlightened.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Charisma of Simone

This review is from: Simone (DVD)

"Simone" is "A Thinking Person's" movie. It's one of those "would if" movies where the concept trumps the acting and cinematography. Would if you could digitally produce a musician, athlete or actor for the pure purpose of entertaining a population and didn't have to worry about prima donnas, excessive salaries and bloated budgets? What if, for the first time, a bona fide celebrity could be created from the dark recesses of a computer and appear more real than the latest phenom? From the election of the President to the latest fad, "Simone" shows how far society has come in creating illusions that people not only buy into, but relish as a way of life better than reality. There is philosophical subtext throughout "Simone" commenting on how far we've devolved as a society without being sermonic. However, what initially was a moral dilemma becomes an acceptance of the world "as is." In the end, the audience is left with the option of fighting an uphill battle over reality or surrendering by adapting to the environment of illusion. Darwin said that the person best able to adapt to an environment would thrive.

"Simone" is a comedy, but the concept is strikingly real.

Related: Charisma

Friday, October 29, 2010

There is an "Upside" and "Downside" to Everything!

This review is from: Up in the Air (DVD)

"Up In The Air" is a reality check for individuals who have chosen professional and material success over family obligations and mainstream sentimentalities. Yes, Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) has made great sacrifices that seem unconventional, but does not conventionalism come with its own price? "Up In The Air" reconciles unorthodox reasoning with collective thinking. At one point in the movie when it appears that Bingham will become a relic of the past, he is redeemed. It's a man versus machine moment when corporate heads decide to disband its new technology of contractually terminating employees through teleconferencing in favor of face-to-face relations. In an altered reality, the boilerplate would have Bingham losing his job; due to the changing work environment and lamenting about the personal relationships he sacrificed to be a corporate dweller. Fortunately, this doesn't happen, which is a "thumbs up" for personal choice.

In the end, the clear message is that life is filled with choices that have an "upside" and a "downside" attached. As one undergoes a "Cost-Benefit Analysis," it is important to take the long view of a myriad of decisions. There are no moral absolutes! Rather, happiness is a culmination of core choices surrounding individual contentment.

"Up In The Air" is a great movie for individuals on both sides of the equation--those who have abandoned personal relationships for professional success and those who have abandoned self actualization for familial responsibilities.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Charisma, Government and Other Businesses: Measuring Outcomes

This review is from: Performance Budgeting for State and Local Government (Paperback)

"Performance Budgeting for State and Local Government" isn't a page turner. In fact, you're more apt to read a few pages and put it down. Not because of its profundity, but because of its tedium. But, building the foundation to any business for long term sustainability requires a degree of monotony. Kelly and Rivenbark's "Performance Budgeting..." is about power and the inner workings of state and local governments tasked with measuring services to the public.

As a master degree candidate, this book was a requirement for a course of the same title. While it's only 8 chapters, readers are left with a greater appreciation for taxes and how it greases the wheels that keep governments operating. While you can read another type of business book, "Performance Budgeting..." shows you how the private sector has largely influenced governmental operations. While, the government isn't quite as efficient, "Performance Budgeting for State and Local Government" spends a long time attempting to make its case.

As performance review is important, it becomes increasingly difficult to make the same case for the public sector as the private sector. In fact, "Performance Budgeting..." fails to make a compelling case, because certain departments within city government are immeasurable based on the nature of the services.

Whether you're a student of politics, government or business, this book is a helpful tool for aligning programs with outcomes and objectives, albeit limitations. For one who teaches on charisma, measuring service deliverables is essential.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Coco is Charismatic

Audrey Tautou in "Coco Before Chanel" is compelling and has charisma galore. Coco was self-empowered and smashed the rules of proper etiquette for women far before it became fashionable. Her indomitable spirit leaps off the screen with very little movement. Charismatic personalities can make reading from a telephone book an awe-inspiring experience. Throughout the movie, viewers witness Tautou's penetrating stare as an observer of the people around her. What is she observing? She sees the masks they wear; Women overly adorning themselves in an attempt to fit into high society when their true selves cry out for simplicity. Coco saw it all and captured it with fashion. She wasn't merely dressing women, she was leading a crusade.

A French movie with sub titles provides an air of authenticity that would have been lost in English. To those who dear to dream and who pay the price for success, watch this movie.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Charisma of Knowing It All

This review is from: Sherlock Holmes (DVD)

"Sherlock Holmes" portrays the downside of the "Renaissance Man." Imagine being able to outthink, outwit and outfight most people and then become trapped in a cocoon of self-misery based on these facts alone. The genius and lamentations of Sherlock Holmes is excellently played by Robert Downey, Jr. While one usually would need to be an anglophile or at least appreciate the backdrop of England (circa) 1880's--1900's, Downey and Jude Law make it fun. The intellectualism of the characters is a breath of fresh air from the mindless, hackneyed movies normally on the modern day roster.

"Sherlock Holmes" is an odyssey through human nature and the need for illusions, whether it is the need to believe in the dead or delusions of grandeur based on self importance. "Sherlock Holmes" shows the upside and downside of human nature and the vagaries in between.

I highly recommend this movie for the comedic erudite.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Charismatic Sociopath!

This review is from: The Sociopath Next Door (Paperback)

Dr. Martha Stout's "The Sociopath Next Door" starts out as a riveting analysis of the part of humanity (4%) that permeates our existence right under our noses. Dr. Stout's case studies of sociopaths as a clinical psychologist gave the book the scientific heft needed for credibility. In describing the traits of sociopaths as charismatic, it helped further my own body of work on Charismatology ("One of the more frequently observed of these traits is a glib and superficial charm that allows the true sociopath to seduce other people., figuratively and literally--a kind of charisma that, initially, can make the sociopath seem more charming or more interesting than most people around him, p. 7)

In part, there could even be a case made that she is describing President Obama as a sociopath on page 93 when she says, "Insidiously, when such a `savior' abducts the normal population to his purposes, he usually begins with an appeal to them as good people who would like to improve the condition of humanity, and then insists that they can achieve this by following his own aggressive plan."

The groundbreaking news comes on page 107, when Dr. Stout reveals the core motivation and warning signs in sociopaths being the need for pity and for people to feel sorry for them. It is pity not fear that sociopaths are after.

However, the scientific pattern established up to this point changed around page 171. "At least 96 percent of us are fundamentally thus (Filled with Conscience). What we will end up doing with the species survival problems created by the other 4 percent (sociopaths) is, at present, unknowable. From this point to the end of the book, it sounded like another person wrote it. Dr. Stout goes to great lengths to vindicate her sense of humanity as well as attempt to convince the 96 percent of the population that having a conscience is better than not having one at all. Her careful analysis seeps into a cacophony of internal dialogue, waxed poetry and girlish innocence. If sociopathy is a combination of biological predilections and environment influences, she makes a better case for sociopaths being born not created through their own choices. Once more, she describes the tragic end to all sociopaths as part of their fate, but feels compelled to warn moral bound individuals of impending doom if these sociopaths are not stopped.

Through Dr. Stout's sermonizing, she loses her sense of objectivity, which turns "The Sociopath Next Door" into an emotional rant by a doctor who claims "End of Times" at the hands of sociopaths. She admits that all humans have the ability and propensity towards sociopathy when humans are perceptually turned into "Its." She uses Osama Bin Laden as an example. Most conscience bound individuals would separate the likes of Osama Bin Laden from the rest of humanity labeling him an "It" and as such rendering any heinous destruction upon him without compunction.

Could a child be born with a heart of gold and the cruelty of the world make his heart grow cold? If so, would the catalyst for becoming a sociopath be marked by the 4 percent of the population who are already sociopathic or the other 96 percent filled with conscience? The numbers alone favor the latter.

The few nuggets revealed in "The Sociopath Next Door" are valuable enough to read the entire book. In this instance, you have to sift through a lot of chaff to get to the wheat.

Edward Brown
Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Charisma of Body Language

This review is from: Body Language Secrets: A Guide During Courtship & Dating (Paperback)

R. Don Steele's, "Body Language Secrets: A Guide During Courtship and Dating" is a good introductory book for becoming better aware of the nonverbal language that goes on between men and women during potentially romantic settings. A key take away of the book is to look for "clusters" of behavior from the person you are attempting to engage. Is their body in an open and receptive position? Are they smiling? Exercising friendly touching? Pupils dilated?

Steele outlines why all these factors are important in assessing one's interest without verbalization. If over 50 % of communication is nonverbal, it behooves us to align our thoughts with effective nonverbal communication. To do otherwise, leads to extreme miscommunication and failed attempts at connecting. To be as attractive as possible, it is essential to manage one's physical and kinetic expressions.

For more information, visit:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Charisma: The Power of Personality

This review is from: The Sins of the Father: Joseph P. Kennedy and the Dynasty he Founded (Hardcover)

Kessler's,"The Sins of the Father," is a page turner, not merely for the colorful and bombastic life of Joseph P. Kennedy. But, a gut check for those fraught with extreme ambition and a thirst for power. Joseph Kennedy answered the age old question, "How far would you go to achieve ultimate power?" His life's response was, "To the ends of the earth." That he did and more.

In addition, Kennedy is an excellent case study on a small percentile of individuals steeped in an insatiable desire to achieve great success at all costs. The statement,"Men do not differ an any respect from other animals, but survive, according to their aptitudes, by adapting themselves to exterior conditions which prevail at the moment of their birth,"(P. 102). The gene pool, environment, and conditions that create a Joseph Kennedy is more prevalent in contemporary times than they ever were.

"The Sins of the Father" is the potential for greatness and vile we all have within us. The ending words speak volumes to our best and worst--"...He did not care about his reputation. What he cared most about was having power. Through the political dynasty that he founded, Joseph P. Kennedy achieved that for generations to come. If he hurt and corrupted others in the process, it was because no one had the courage to challenge him. For that, they only have themselves to blame" (p. 428).

Related: Charisma

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Art of What Works Builds Charisma Empire

William Duggan's, "The Art of What Works..." has become one of the guiding principles by which the Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute (Core Edge) bases its innovations. The other principles of Core Edge are: Albert Humphrey's "SWOT" analysis and Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema's, "The Discipline of Market Leaders." It is essential to take these three bodies of works collectively, if you are to build a 21st Century enterprise.

"The Art of What Works" provides the foundational principles by which contemporary "break-throughs" are made. Duggan's ideas work within any industry. Take for example, the musician "Prince". While his music is defined as transformational, his musical success is laid by the prior success and styling of Jimi Hendrix, James Brown and Sly Stone. Now, Duggan's doesn't provide the myriad of examples by which using past contributions to tweak contemporary innovations, but you begin to see the patterns of possibilities by laying his concept within any social phenomenon. The great contributors, past and present, used "hybrid' approaches towards achievement, which lays bear the idea of "pure" innovation within any industry. Nothing is really "new' nor created in a vacuum. Duggan's analysis of success trumps those of Napoleon Hill and Dale Carnegie, because it's based on historic or factual reality over metaphysics. The notion, "It is what it is" takes precedent over theories that fail to look behind what is qualifiable and quantifiable.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Neeson Exudes Charisma in a Machiavellian Way

This review is from: Taken (Single-Disc Extended Edition) (DVD)

"Taken" is one of those movies for your personal library. Liam Neeson does a convincing job of demonstrating the virility and vitality of the aging Baby Boomer. He's what Jason Bourne grows up to be. Neeson's character doesn't knock you over with quick quips and a bevy of beauties. He's merely a dedicated former government agent who has learned some "tricks" of the trade. The screenwriter did an excellent job of creating a "He-man" without becoming a cliché'. By Neeson recovering his daughter where his ex-wife's new rich husband isn't able to rise to the occasion, says the man who can really protect his family with sheer prowess is the better man. How could the ex-wife go back to a normal life when the real man (Neeson) lives across town? Of course, all this is subtle subtext.

The salient point is that Neeson is amoral, doing what is appropriate for the situation to affect an ideal outcome. Neeson does the unthinkable in ways that are believable. No extraordinary special effects, no superhuman feats only possible for a man 20 years younger. In short, just plain old "Americana." Man encounters challenge. Man meets challenge head-on. Man triumphs!

I highly recommend "Taken". Neeson exhibits the subtle charisma of a Harrison Ford.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Charisma is Founded On "Understanding Human Nature"

This review is from: Understanding Human Nature

Eminent psychologist Alfred Adler's (1870-1937), "Understanding Human Nature" is a ground- breaking book outlining the dynamics, psychology and neurosis of human nature. For me, Adler's salient point in his "Individual Psychology" is that we are all slaves to our motivations. Whatever, driving need within all of us, move us to act in fulfilling that need. Adler says,"...A change of attitude in adult life need not necessarily lead to a change of behavior pattern. The psyche does not change its foundation; the individual retains the same tendencies in childhood and in maturity, leading us to deduce that her goal in life is unaltered." (P.4) He further asserts, "A person's mental life is determined by his goals. No human being can think, feel, wish, or dream without all these activities being determined, continued, modified and directed toward an ever-present objective." (P. 15).

Adler's conceptual framework served me well in constructing my model on charisma. Whether you witness the magnetism of President Barack Obama, the magnanimity of Oprah Winfrey or the altruism of Bono, they are all moved by their compelling drives and motivation, which are all self-serving.

Adler cut through the chase in defining the human psyche that was de-mystifying in ways that eclipsed Sigmund Freud. Although contemporaries, Adler's contribution to psychology seems much more visceral and pragmatic than that of Freud.

I highly recommend "Understanding Human Nature" as a timeless tome more
relevant today than a century ago.


Adler, A. (1998), Understanding human nature. Minnesota: Hazelden Foundation

For more information, visit:

Friday, August 20, 2010

Lessons Learned for Enhancing Charisma: "The Stepfather"

This review is from: The Stepfather (DVD)

The movie "The Stepfather" is a psycho-drama where you don't need Michael Myers or Jason Vorhees to be your worst nightmare. It's the nice looking, Kurt Rusell-esque guy next door to be concerned about. In this instance, "The Stepfather" has a few things going to exemplify the weaknesses of human nature. For one, David Harris (Dylan Walsh) is invited into these homes by women who are attractive, single and operate as the primary parent. But what does he do to enamor himself with these ladies? Charisma and charm can be used for good and evil, but you decide your own case. David does a few things that speak to the voids in the women he entangles in his web. David:

--Finds attractive, single mothers shopping in stores with their children and engages them by being open and vulnerable ("My wife and daughter were killed in a car accident...I'm new in town and don't know my way around.")

--Targets attractive women with children, because an attractive, eligible, and tolerant man to bring into their world might initially be challenging. David makes himself available.

--Plays it cool. David isn't stressed and seems indifferent to what the women might do. But, because he's figured out their psychodynamics, he feels confident he can predict what they're inclined to do, which is to invite him into their lives.

---Interacts well with the children. To get the cow express interest in her calf! If David demonstrates he is father material, the women can quickly envision him being an addition to a newly formed family. They get a new mate and the children get a new father.

All in all, "The Stepfather" is instructional for illustrating the precepts to getting one's feet in the door to any opportunity, whether it's finding a new love or exploring new job opportunities.

I recommend "The Stepfather" for these "Take aways" alone.

Related: Charisma

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Charisma & Presidential Characteristics Unseen

This review is from: Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (Paperback)

I searched Barack Obama's, "Dreams from My Father," in hopes of finding signs forecasting his ascension to the U.S. Presidency as well as evidence pointing to his inclusion into the School of Charismatic Leadership. Interesting, I saw all evidence wanting. There were no signs as exemplified in David Maraniss', "First in His Class," a biography on President Bill Clinton's evolution to power.

At best, it is a reclamation of a man who idealized an element of black sub-culture, based on skin color, only to find his own truth in a world fraught with contradictions. The climax of the book came while in Africa, as Obama and his sister Auma are speaking with an old history teacher of Auma's. Dr. Rukia Odero says," ...You know, young black Americans tend to romanticize Africa so. When your father and I were young, it was the opposite -we expected to find all the answers in America. Harlem. Chicago. Langston Hughes and James Baldwin. That's where we drew our inspiration. And the Kennedys---they were very popular" (p. 433). Throughout "Dreams from My Father," Obama is expressing the disconnection of his personal experiences with those who share the same skin color. As usual the case when one feels he's not "Black enough (complexion and psychologically)," he over compensates believing that the sub-culturally described definition of being black is the objective definition. Dr. Odero's insights closes the gap of the proverbially, "Grass being greener on the other side." By closing the psychological gap, Obama is allowed to embrace the truism that his global experiences have allowed: Born In Hawaii to a white Kansan mother and black Kenyan father, reared in Indonesia by an Asian step-father, educated in the highest pedigreed universities in the world, and finally, being able to point directly to a country (Kenya) that engenders his future aspirations being manifested in America.

"Dreams from My Father" is an immigrant story in the vein of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rupert Murdoch with sociological underpinning of the Black Experience as a construct. The beauty of Obama's writing is the social experiment he engages himself in to find a panacea for the psychological malaise (part self-induced, part uncontrolled social forces) he experienced growing up. Obama is reminiscent of a scientist who uses himself as a guinea pig to find a special elixir. As such, he has produced a psychological blue print, steeped in hybridized cultural influences of power for the ages. A call to action would be, "Find an authentic socio/psychological philosophy to base your understanding of the world and consolidate power from that perspective."

A must read by a man who would become the most powerful person in the world and the process that got him there.

For more information, visit: Charisma

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Charismatic Influences That Created Pop Culture

Steve Jobs (Technology). Even before Apple became a technology company, Steve Jobs was instrumental for making computers “user friendly” and sexy. Jobs’ charisma made him the first technological rock star whose impact is seen in every form from sleek and aerodynamic computers to multimedia.

Craig Venter (Science). Venter is credited for being one of the first persons to sequence the human genome. Craig Venter’s accomplishments have influenced the future of biotechnology fused with entrepreneurialism. Much, like Alexander Graham Bell, Venter is a scientific businessman, which made science sexy by taking research out of the laboratory and placing it into the marketplace.

“Superfly” (Movie). Ron O’Neal’s portrayal of Priest made the drug culture attractive, although the movie was meant to provide an anti-drug message. This 1970’s explosion captured imaginations through O’Neal’s charisma, Curtis Mayfield’s soundtrack, a tight storyline and the styles of that period. Movies like: “Scarface,” “New Jack City” and “Sugar Hill” are cut from this genre.

“The Mack” (Movie). “The Mack” starred Max Julien, which revolutionized and glamorized the pimp lifestyle. This 1970’s megahit showed the rise and fall of a pimp much like Al Pacino’s portrayal of Tony Montana in “Scarface.” While “The Mack” attempted to show the downside of street life with some peppering of messages like “Staying in school,” it largely influenced a generation of Rappers who point to “The Mack” as a rags to riches saga for achieving one’s goals at any cost.

Evel Knievel (Stunt man). Robert Craig Knievel was the first rock star stunt man who captured the imagination by jumping over cars, buses and a canyon with a motorcycle. Knievel can be credited for influencing today’s extreme sports from motorcycle jumping to bikes and skateboards.

Julius Erving (“Dr. J”-Basketball). Dr. J influenced contemporary basketball played “above the rim”. Erving’s impact created the legendary Michael Jordan, who mesmerized a legion of basketball players whose acrobatics on the court has raised the NBA brand to global proportions.

Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five (Rap). This group broke ground in 1982 by producing the first urban experience song “The Message.” “The Message” changed the whole genre of Rap music from boasting about personal exploits to characterizing the visceral experiences of life in urban communities.

F. Lee Bailey (Law). While there was a line of influential attorneys before F. Lee Bailey, he was instrumental in ushering the “super lawyer” as a media darling. Bailey was instrumental in raising the profile of the law profession through high profile cases to where today’s court shows are media successes. The likes of Johnnie Cochran and Willie Gary come out of Bailey’s influence and impact.

Gianni Versace (Fashion Designer). Versace was instrumental in placing fashion on the front burner of contemporary minds as he placed clothing on celebrity behinds. Versace impacted the fashion industry by making individuals rock stars by merely wearing the Versace label.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Are Charismatic Leaders Motivated By A Love For People?

Often, the notion of charismatic leaders having a great affinity for people is attributed to this form of leadership. However, the charismatic leader’s desire for power and control comes into question as to whether the love of people is a motivating factor. McClelland (1985), under the Leader Motive Profile, asserts that effective leaders have: A high conscious need for power, low need for affiliation and a high concern for moral use of power. Weighing these traits with charismatic leaders, charismatic leaders are motivated by a great need for power. Their self-identity hinges on vainglorious and missionary pursuits. Also, charismatic leaders live in the field of ideas and imagination and thus do not necessarily form close relational bonds or affiliations. Their advanced interpersonal relationship skills tend to make associates, colleagues and followers feel closer to them then they actually are. Finally, charismatic leaders’ use of moral power is largely subjective. In a Machiavellian sense, they use morality interchangeably based on the needs of the situation.

In the end, the mission of charismatic leaders supersedes a passion for people. People are mere means for accomplishing a vision. Followers become enraptured in a task bigger than themselves, which give them a purpose for existing and societal needs are fulfilled through the sheer force, determination and fortitude of the charismatic leader. Arguably, without the efforts of the charismatic leader, great achievements would be far and few between.

McClelland, D.C. (1985). Human motivation. Chicago: Scott, Foresman and Co.

Related: Charisma

Friday, July 23, 2010

Charisma Through Ideas

Often charisma is experiential based on the connection between the charismatic leader and followers. But, could charismatic leaders be detached from adherents and connect purely through ideas? Weisberg (2010) asserts that there is a difference between the charismatic traits of Presidents Clinton, G.W. Bush, Reagan and Obama. Clinton, Bush and Reagan were described as “relaters” in that they made visceral or deep connections with the people they came in contact with through shared experiences and common interests. A great deal of their political savvy was attached to this ability to “feel the other person’s pain.” However, Obama is described as cool, aloof, detached, not warm, and highly analytical. Supporters are more enamored with his ideas than his connectivity. If this description of Obama is correct, how does this bode with the idea of his being charismatic?

Such a notion actually upends the traditional concept of charisma as a driving force based on sheer magnetism. If ideas can be described as charismatic, what is more important, the message or the messenger? Ideally, the pure charismatic is a combination of both. He can arouse audiences with a compelling idea through sheer passion and steel determination as well as conceptualize the larger vision. To the point, either President Obama fits squarely into the Charismatic leadership model albeit less of a connector than Clinton, Bush and Reagan, has some traits of charismatic leaders, but is not a full- fledged charismatic or charismatic ideas stand on their own devoid of the charismatic personality. If research suggests that the prototypical charismatic leader has a compelling vision as well as passionate oratory, than the message is only part of the total picture. In reading Obama’s autobiography, “Dreams from My Father,” there is no evidence that Obama has a mesmerizing personality nor had a far reaching vision such as that demonstrated by Adolph Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”. In fact, there is no evidence provided in “Dreams from My Father” that Obama had political ambitions, let alone aspirations for the presidency. This is in stark contrast to Bill Clinton’s political aspirations in David Marinnass’ book, “First in His Class.”

The compelling passion of an overarching vision is so intertwined that one would be hard pressed to determine where the idea begins and where the passion articulated by the charismatic leader ends. All told, President Obama would probably best fit into the category of possessing some charismatic traits of charismatic leaders, but not a full-fledge charismatic. As articulated in the movie, “V for Vendetta,” ideas are perspectives. Without the will, passion and fortitude of the charismatic leader, ideas mean nothing in the long run. Action is the active ingredient for moving a mere idea to its ultimate manifestation.

Can ideas be charismatic? Only when the will of a leader is committed to an overarching vision tailored to the need of the people who believe the time has come and waiting would engender a missed opportunity.

Related: Charisma


Weisberg, J. (2010 Feb. 1). Alone in a crowd. Newsweek, Vol. 155, Issue 5, p. 14-14, 1p.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Raw Charisma of Mike Tyson, Mickey Rourke and Bobby Brown: A Case Study

What is it about boxer Mike Tyson, actor Mickey Rourke and singer Bobby Brown that keep audiences on the edge of their seat anytime these men give an interview or tie themselves to a project? If you say “charisma,” then we have to review how do these men’s charisma differ from the likes of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama? Or even a fellow entertainer like actor Denzel Washington. How do Tyson, Rourke and Brown compare to carefully crafted images of Clinton, Obama and Washington? If charisma requires a certain level of finesse, the former characters have found a way of assuaging difficult situations with a sense of flair. defines “finesse” in part as: “skill in handling a difficult or highly sensitive situation; adroit and artful management; a trick, artifice, or stratagem.” In short, Tyson, Rourke and Brown have used sheer personality, great will and shrewd ambition to meld their brand of charisma into a synergistic, seemingly edgy concept. No matter what level of professional success each achieved, they seemed to be unfazed by the glitz and glamour that attaches itself to marquee athletes and entertainers. For these men, they would be equally entertaining and mesmerizing even if the klieg lights were off. It is easy to suggest celebrity as the cause for audience interest. But, they are not buffoons or charlatans attempting to extend their 15 minutes of fame. No, they interact on the world stage as if success and money are incidental to a higher purpose, not always clearly understood by the populous. As they attempt to exorcise their personal demons, their honed professional craft is used to exercise the muscles of the internal battle.

In a recent Detail magazine interview, when asked about his bout with Evander Holyfield, Tyson said:

“Man, I didn't care about boxing anymore. I was wrong to do that—all wrong—all crazy to do that. But that wasn't about boxing. I just wanted to f--king maim him. I had no business being in that ring. A year out of prison, 16 months out of prison, already with two belts to defend? I had no business with those belts. I was already done. They put you, a writer, in prison, for three years, hands tied behind your back. Then they put you up against some hack, and you outwrite him, and they give you two awards. And then I put you up against a Nobel Prize winner? Absurd.”

Bobby Brown talks about his need for control and focus:

“I like being in control of making all the major decisions pertaining to my projects. That`s something that you don`t get to do in a group. Everything has to be voted on - every minor decision.

“I could really care less about what they think about me, but at the same time, I do have something to prove.”

Mickey Rourke talks about his career and choices:

“A couple of guys won Academy Awards for the things that I turned down. Today, after coming to terms with everything, after being in therapy for a long time-there are areas where I will compromise.”

“What I've got to do now is let them judge me for who I am as an actor and not for my notoriety.”

The raw charisma of Tyson, Rourke and Brown emanates from intense authenticity with incomparable ambition. Their focus is the pureness of their craft and inner voice rather than image management. In this regard, they are freer than Clinton, Obama and Washington to push their creativity and thus their charisma to the limit.


Bobby Brown Quotes. Lucy.Com, Retrieved from:

Mickey Rourke Quotes. Brainy Quote. Retrieved from :

Solotaroff,I. (2010 August). Everything you think you know about Mike Tyson is wrong. Details Magazine,Retrieved from:

Related: Charisma

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Charismatic Leadership: Loved By Some, Hated By Others

Recently, I had Brenda Neckvatal, author of a white paper on charismatic leadership, as a guest on my online radio show, Charisma live. Brenda’s research echoed much of what I had discovered about charismatic leadership and so I wanted her to elaborate further. As we discussed her findings, she was pretty candid about having some misgivings about the traits characterized by charismatic personalities; mainly, extreme narcissism, rebuking anyone who disagrees or pushes back against them, a missionary zeal and manipulation (my addition). Initially, as Brenda discovered these traits during her early research, she decided these traits were not ideal. Later, as she analyzed the conceptual framework of charismatic personalities, she begin to expand her paradigmatic predilections to accept that charismatic personalities were a special breed and contributed greatly despite those traits that were antithetical to mainstream thinking. Largely, she followed the data to determine, what, if any real value, charismatic leadership contributed to organizations. We also agreed that charismatics caused schisms among people, because as one segment of the population loved charismatics and their contributions, the other half of the population abhorred their symbolism. The dichotomy came with an understanding that for every benefit to a group of individuals, the same benefit often proves disadvantageous to another group. Consequently, trying to please everyone proved erroneous and shortsighted.

The take away for students of charismatic leadership is to be fully aware and prepared to be loved and despised if you become immersed in an idea that you believe to be transformational. Charismatics accept this truism, although like anyone else, they would wish to be loved and accepted by all.

To listen to the show in its entirety, link to:

Friday, July 2, 2010

Charisma: The Human Will

A client, Stan, recently asked me why I did not talk about any other topics other than “charisma” and “Charismatic leadership.” I casually asked, “What other topics would you be willing to pay for?” Stan laughed and said, “Is it about money?” I then chuckled and said, “If you had mentioned a desire to know about another subject, other than charisma, I would have referred you to someone else.” He continued with,” Would you leave an opportunity to grow your business on the table?” I said, “If the subject does not have some relativity to charisma, I would have to leave it on the table.” He walked away puzzled as we set up an appointment for our next training. I thought about the look on Stan’s face as he left and decided to call him later to inquire further.

As Stan picked up the telephone after about two rings, I said,” Hello Stan this Ed Brown, is this a good time to talk?” He said, “Sure, what’s up?” I said, “I was thinking about our conversation earlier and I couldn’t get that look you gave me out of my mind. After I told you I would pass up an opportunity, if it didn’t fit my specialty, you seemed confused. Just curious, why the look?” Stan responded, “Well Ed, it is an economic recession and I know, as probably you do, there are a lot of people out of work. They would die to grab any opportunity they could to feed their families and pay their bills. You came across as beyond all that as if you couldn’t find yourself in a similar situation.” I paused a few seconds, because I didn’t realize Stan had emotionalized my response to that extent. I carefully considered his words and said,” Stan, I can understand your feelings and I was not, under any circumstances, trying to demean those who are unemployed. Of course, I could be in similar situation, if fortune was against me. But, do you know how long I’ve been pursuing my dream to find a concept and a plan that I could commit my life to? Stan asked, “How long?” I said, “30 years.” He said, “30 years? You’re not even that old.” I said “I’ve been looking for the one thing that would separate me from everyone else, since I was a child. I was influenced by everything in 1970’s from Super Fly to Evel Knievel. From Earth, Wind & Fire to Parliament-Funkadelic. Once I realized who created these surreal emotions as a child, I needed to know how they did it. When I determined that all of these influences had a high degree of charisma, that’s all I wanted to study. You came to me, because you found my work on the Internet. Do you think you would have found me if I talked about different subjects with no passion for either?” Stan said, “Maybe, if you were in different arenas, you would be known for different things.” I concluded by saying, “Stan, the days of being a Jack-of-all-trades, master of none are over. It’s just too many people trying to grab the megaphone spewing mere opinions with no research, background or homework. You pay me the price of my services, because I eat, sleep and drink charisma. If I died tomorrow, my body of work and system of thought would surpass anyone who has not spent years developing a compelling idea. I do not worry about the economy, because my lifestyle and commitment to my work will always allow my mind to create opportunities no matter the financial forecast or conditions. What you perceived as arrogance was a testament to the human will of a determined mind.”

Stan grew silent. I said, “Stan, are you still there?” He said,”Yeah Ed, I’m here. What you said inspired me. Rarely do I meet people who have settled on their own truth and drawn a line in the sand daring anyone to cross it.” I said,” When you get to that point by finding something that gives you a sense of purpose, nothing else matters…not money, people or things.” Stan seemed to become a bit rushed and weary. He said,” Ed, I’ll see you at our next appointment, I have to go.” I said, “What’s up? Are you okay?” He said,”Yeah, you gave me an idea for a plan I’ve been holding off for a long time. If I don’t get to it now, I probably never will.” I asked, “Can you talk about it?” Stan said,”Ed, your passion and words make talking at this point, a dead subject. I have to do it. I’ll tell you about it the next meeting.” I said, “Okay, take care.”

The next few sessions, Stan would be elusive about his project saying, “You’ll see when it’s done.” To date, I don’t know what Stan has up his sleeves, but not only has he referred other clients to me, he has added more sessions to his contract. I don’t believe the weak shall inherit the earth, I truly believe the world belongs to the brave and courageous.

Related: Charisma

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Charisma: A Random Experiment on Influence

Recently, I gave a seminar titled, "The Principles of Charismatic Leadership” at the 2010 Power Networking Conference held in Downtown Atlanta at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. The seminar was filled to capacity, much to my surprise. There were several other seminars going on at the same time, which made the attendance even more special. I gave an overview of the philosophy behind charisma and asked the audience, “What problems or challenges does charisma solve?” I favor the Problem Based Learning Model, which essentially is solution oriented in its mechanics. The solutions I received that charisma addressed ranged from moving up the corporate hierarchy using advanced interpersonal skills to persuading and impacting audiences to fulfill a mission.

Shortly after, I divided the room into two groups and asked participants to choose a candidate for President of the United States. After some internal campaigning within both groups, two men were selected (the groups were nearly equally divided with women and men). The two candidates had to give a stump speech at which the audience would vote collectively for the next President of the United States. The two men did not have a platform of issues and were relatively unknown, until that day, by the general audience. Guess who won?

Without much information, contact or questioning, the audience chose the candidate who aroused the greater of emotions, spoke about the difficulties ahead, and talked about the interest of the audience’s children and grandchildren (sound familiar?). The same “hot buttons” that real politicians use to get elected worked during a staged, impromptu election.

Can the tools and machinations of charisma work in situations where an individual has to go in “cold” without any knowledge of the people he or she has to influence? This random experiment suggests they can when they know the common motivation, interests and desires of the populous.

For more information, visit: Charisma

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Impact of Narcissism on Charismatic Leadership: The Conclusion

Narcissists and charismatic leaders often are so commonly link, one cannot determine where one personality trait ends and the other begins. While all narcissists are not charismatic, it is believed that all charismatic leaders have some form of narcissism greater than the average individual. The hard-wiring of narcissists is highly Machiavellian in that they have “changeable” or mutable consciences. Instead of being tied to a specific method of getting things accomplished, narcissists change their minds and paradigm according to the needs of the situation. Consequently, narcissists are difficult to pigeon hole, because they adapt to a situation for the sole purpose of winning. As Vidal Gore once stated, “It’s not enough to win, the other guy has to lose.” This will to achieve is believed to stem from early childhood experiences of degradation that positioned the narcissist to excel at all cost. Lubit (2002) asserts that narcissists are inclined to leave projects unfinished once they become bored. Conversely, Fleming (N.D.) contends that charismatic leaders become inextricably tied to a project. So much so that the challenge is motivating the charismatic leader to leave or delegate power rather than remain, once the mission has been accomplished.

Charismatic narcissists are often more persistent than the average individual based on the need to achieve. This drive is a benefit for organizations in that the charismatic will stay the course until the task is accomplished or deem the challenges unwinnable. As noted earlier, the downside is the unwillingness for charismatics to leave or create a succession plan once a goal has been achieved. Evidence also suggests that charismatic narcissists will abdicate the mission or forego alliances if persisting acts contrary to their self-interest.
All in all, charismatic narcissists can be beneficial in creating an innovative, fast paced and groundbreaking environment for employees. Their “Big Picture” sentimentalities allow for individuals to feel a part of something bigger than themselves. For charismatic narcissists, accomplishing a grandiose mission becomes the driving force of their existence.

As demonstrated by musician Prince, Hitler and Stalin, the mission is so critical for vainglorious and self-aggrandizing measures, anyone who poses either a threat or ceases to be valuable will be eliminated. Charismatic narcissists are persistent in their endeavors and will unload any “baggage” at will. In their minds, they are indispensable where everyone else is expendable.

For organizations wrestling with charismatic narcissists, it is essential to weigh the pros and cons of this type of leadership. For organizations that are receding, irrelevant and complacent, charismatic narcissists can be valuable for jump starting the organization. The cautionary note is to have parameters, boundaries and oversight to the actions of charismatic narcissists. Not to have some measure of control is fodder for the charismatic narcissists to wreak havoc on the long term aspirations of the mission. Like fire, charismatic narcissists can be beneficial for building an organization or they can obliterate everyone and everything around them if left unchecked.


Fleming,G.(N.D.). Student leadership styles: Charismatic leadership. guide. Retrieved from:

Lubit, R. (2002), ‘The Long-Term Organizational Impact of Destructively Narcissistic Managers’, Academy of Management Executive, Volume 16, Number 1, pp. 127–138.

For more information, visit: Charisma

Friday, June 11, 2010

What Sacrifices Would Charismatic Personalities Make to Achieve Their Goals?

If the charismatic narcissist uses individuals to affect a bigger mission, would he sacrifice individuals for the sake of he mission? Bizumic and Duckitt (2008) contend that given the choice between self-interest and the interest of others, the charismatic narcissist will choose self-interest. They cite information pointing to the fact that both Hitler and Stalin were willing to give up their countries when it no longer served their goals. When Hitler realized that he would lose the war, he started to despise Germany and was ready to sacrifice it, saying, “Germany is not worthy of me; let her perish” (quoted in Hershman & Lieb, 1994, p. 187).

So whether it is the musician Prince switching out bands for the sake of his music or Hitler and Stalin abdicating their country for individual gain, research suggests that the charismatic narcissist is relentless when achieving a goal and will discontinue and forsake all alliances when it is in his best interest to do so. The upside for corporations and organizations is that usually a charismatic narcissist has checks and balances through by-laws, corporate governance and board of directors. The recent debacle in the housing and financial industries reflects what happens when a megalomaniac goes unchecked—he brings down a company. Both empirical and theoretical evidence suggests that narcissistic individuals
lack integrity. For instance, narcissism has been found to be negatively related to integrity outside of organizational settings (Mumford et al., 2001).


Bizumic, B. and Duckitt, J. (2008 June). My group is not worthy of me: Narcissism and ethnocentrism. Political Psychology, vol. 29 Issue 3, p. 437-453, 11 p., 5 charts.

Hershman, D. J., & Lieb, J. (1994). A brotherhood of tyrants: Manic depression and absolute power. Amherst: Prometheus Books.

Mumford, M. D., Connelly, M. S., Helton,W. B., Strange, J. M., & Osburn, H. K. (2001). On the construct validity of integrity tests: Individual and situational factors as predictors of test performance. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 9, 240–257.

For more information, visit: Charisma

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Narcissism Fuels Passion Within Charismatics

In many respects, narcissism is the fuel that prompts charismatics to go farther than the average individual in achieving goals within and without crisis situations. Eminent psychologist Alfred Adler described this aspect of narcissism as the “Superiority Complex.” Maniacci (2007) asserts:

They see others from the vantage point of who is above—or below—whom. If they are not on top, they feel grossly inferior. Others tend to feel inadequate around them. They are overly responsible, too involved, and far too controlling. When confronted with the possibility of not being superior, these people blame, attack, and criticize others. They may be wrong, but others are more wrong than they are. They hate the notion of not having a purpose in life, and they often work too hard and far too long. Winning is everything, and they are willing to cut corners, cheat, or even hurt others if they perceive themselves as losing. Winning is not the only thing: It is everything. They are excessively concerned with their appearance, and while they often take care of their outward appearance through dressing well and superb hygiene, they often neglect their inner health, both emotionally and physically. They are far too busy achieving to be worried about such things, and after all, they are special, so they don't have to worry about diets, sleep, and their health—nothing could ever happen to them (p.138-139).

When these characteristics are exemplified within charismatics, it is often seen as “missionary zeal” and “the love and concern” for people. In actuality, people are mere pleasantries utilized to implement and bring to fruition an ultimate goal. “In advance of performance, narcissists seem to care most about attaining desirable rewards associated with meeting or exceeding performance goals, and they typically show less concern about the prospect of failing to achieve the desired goal” (Wallace, et al, 2009. P. 79). It is important to note that these vainglorious acts are cultivated by an enabling culture. Western culture, which relishes and embraces its Judeo-Christian leanings, inherently support the narcissism of individuals generally and charismatics, specifically. A tenet which espouses man being created in the image of an omnipotent God-head, by definition relegates man to a superior position. If everything is created by a superior being than how did man become the inheritor of this largesse? Man’s self-importance, through scriptural edict or ethnic domination, saw fit to find self-defining roles to pit his esteem against real or perceived adversaries. “Throughout history, the pretense of masculine superiority has had to be continually reinforced by patriarchal laws, religion, and cultural rituals and ceremonies that elevated men and made woman subservient, all too often through the application of brute power and violence. The appearance of harmony between the genders was more often the experience of subjugation by fear, male dominance followed by the submissive acts of women who had been stripped of power and status in the world” (Bitter, 2008, p.271).

Bitter. J. (2008 Fall). Reconsidering narcissism: An Adlerian-feminist response to the article in the special section of the journal of individual psychology. The Journal of Individual Psychology, vol. 64, issue 3, p. 270-279, 10p.

Maniacci, M.P. (2007 Summer). His majesty the baby: Narcissism through the lens of individual psychology. Journal of Individual Psychology. Vol. 63, Issue 2, p.136-145, 10 p.

Wallace. H.M., Ready, C.B. , and Weitenhagen, E. (2009 Jan-Mar.). Narcissism and task persistence. Self & Identity. Vol 8, Issue 1. P. 78-93, 16. Chart.

Related: Charisma

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Charisma, Narcissism & Power

It is challenging to objectively demarcate the impact of narcissism on charismatic leadership, because narcissists can be very compelling and persuasive without necessarily being charismatic. The Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute defines Charisma as “The creating of perceptions that impact the mind and emotions of others through flair, finesse and glib language.” In other words, charismatic personalities utilize emotional and mental stimuli as a means of control. While they create perceptions and experiences that draw others in, they operate from biological and environmental influences. Narcissists and charismatics share similar traits including the desire for power and control. Bitter (2008) suggests “In the end, it is not self-confidence or even self-love that takes center stage: It is power, control, demanding-ness, privilege, and exploitation. Narcissism may be a part of the disorder, but it is not the disorder itself’ (p. 277). Guilfoyle (2005) suggests that charismatics emerge from early childhood experiences,” Research in the fields of leadership and social psychology offers evidence that charismatic behaviours are learned and regularly emerge from adverse early experiences. Many charismatic personalities it seems were talented children who experienced family crises and counterbalanced those early losses with self-sufficiency and a stronger sense of purpose in their lives” (para 7). Eminent philosopher Thomas Carlyle said that individuals were “hard-wired” for hero worship. That catapulting images and personalities into demigods seemed to be in the human DNA. In addition, Bitter (2008) says,” Human beings, it seems to me, do indeed absorb the dominant culture, even when a given individual may not be a privileged part of that culture” (p. 273). If Carlyle’s impressions are correct then it is reasonable for adherents to worship narcissists and by association, charismatic leaders. With the deification of narcissists, narcissists have turned the hardwiring of worshipping inwardly. As individuals look outwardly for iconic representatives, narcissists have found their hero within themselves.


Bitter. J. (2008 Fall). Reconsidering narcissism: An Adlerian-feminist response to the article in the special section of the journal of individual psychology. The Journal of Individual Psychology, vol. 64, issue 3, p. 270-279, 10p.

Guilfoyle, D. (2005). Charismatic communication: The importance of form. Retrieved from:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Prince: The Fusion of Charisma & Narcissism

An example of narcissism fused with charismatic leadership, in a nontraditional sense, is the musician Prince. Since 1977, Prince has maintained total creative control over his work including: writing, producing, singing and playing all the instruments on his recordings. Unlike many groups who begin as equal partners splitting revenue proportionally, Prince has switched out band members according to necessity. Reportedly, Prince is notorious for having a tight rein on his individual work as well as the acts he produces. There have been countless books extolling the virtues of collaborations and team building. While, Prince has worked repeatedly with some of the same artists, he shifted the big group concept of the 1960s and 1970s opting to use technology to truncate the process. Where ten to fifteen musicians used to frequent a performance, Prince used five musicians, excluding himself. Singlehandedly, Prince slashed the notion of big bands and summarily ushered in the one- man show with the big band sound. Prince showed the dispensability of artists under his tutelage as he formed different bands as he experimented with new music. Charismatic leaders find innovative means of trumpeting their mission when the number of adherents is paltry. For the charismatic narcissist, this speaks to the notion that the mission, crusade or idea is bigger than individuals. Individuals are mere means to an end and operate to bring bigger-than-life ideas to life.

Related: Charisma

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Charismatic Leadership: Going Against the Grain

Charismatic leaders have often been lambasted for creating chaos and shaking things up within organizations and on the world stage. One typical criticism might be,”He’s trying to change the way we do things around here—overnight.” Another criticism is taking on more responsibility than the capacity of an organization allows. While these assessments may be warranted, what really is going on inside the charismatic that tumult is almost implored? In short, why must he go against the grain? While this core question goes to the heart of charismatic motivation requiring expansive discussion, the fundamental reason charismatics go against the grain is the rightness of their cause and the certainty of their ideas. This sounds pretty cliché’ given the fact that many people who are not charismatic share similar sentiments. However, there is a difference. While many non-charismatics are content to express a contrary opinion on occasion, charismatics have an insatiable need to live a contrarian worldview. They view the world from a perspective not even conceived by the masses. This is more the case when the charismatic is a voracious reader. Left alone in the field of ideas, the unthinkable is possible. To the charismatic, his lineage is tied to the likes of Alexander the Great, Hannibal and Napoleon. His reading varied from Machiavelli to Rousseau. Not only are his visions epic, his imagination is kaleidoscopic. With all this internal activity going on, how could the charismatic not see the world different from dilettantes and neophytes? If anything, he is a prisoner in an external world of mediocrity and apathy.

But, lamentations are not necessary for the plight of the charismatic as he traverses the path of his ambitions. No more than for the plight of biological and environmental conditions that produce any entity that is occasionally at odds with its social environment. Why do charismatics go against the grain? Because they have to! If it is a choice, the choice is so compelling, it feels like a compulsion.