“The Risk Of Charisma – Have You Got It?”

“You can go a long way with a smile. You can go a lot farther with a smile and a gun.” Al Capone

My Home page on Safari (yes, I have an Apple laptop) is iGoogle and today’s quotes included this one. I laughed – a recognition reflex. Al Capone, the notorious gangster of Chicago’s speakeasys and guns in violin cases had a sense of humour.

When aiming to influence your audience with your presentation, is there room for the ‘smile and a gun’ approach? One aspect of charisma is that air of danger – or at the very least, risk. What constitutes that dangerous quality of charisma?

  1. Charismatic people are true to themselves. Take for example, Jack Nicholson. He is unashamedly himself. He senses pretence, pricks conceit and makes no apology for it. His ‘take me or leave me’ attitude lends him a big following.
  2. Charismatic people ignore the status quo. Richard Branson set up Virgin Atlantic in direct competition with the big carrier, British Airways and was prepared to challenge them all the way, even when they launched a “dirty tricks” campaign against him.
  3. Charismatic people have great energy. A friend who has met Bill Clinton says he has an aura about him that magnetises people. This energy is directed with laser focus at the people around him so he influences them to pay attention and respond warmly towards him.
  4. Charismatic people have an iron determination. Love her or hate, Margaret Thatcher had great will to become Prime Minister in 1979 and exerted it for 13 years as leader.
  5. Charismatic people can be very charming. Mahatma Gandhi was hugely persuasive and brought about the end of British rule in India through his personal charm and great integrity. He truly had the ‘smile and a gun’ approach (though non-violently!) in marshalling the forces of the Indian people, both Hindu and Muslim behind him to make sure he got listened to.

These people are not necessarily the easiest of people to be around. They are leaders in their respective fields. Their charisma arouses people to follow them.

So how to cultivate the ‘smile and a gun’ style in your presentation? Any ideas?


About anrah

Anrah is a business development consultancy specialising in helping senior women in engineering and science, their teams and doctoral students increase 'presence', improve communication and generate impact to win stakeholder buy-in at the highest level.
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2 Responses to “The Risk Of Charisma – Have You Got It?”

  1. Pingback: “The Risk Of Charisma – Have You Got It?” – charismaticleadershipblogs

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