I often get asked whether Executive Charisma is coachable and trainable.

My short answer is: YES.

Charismatic leaders are articulate and visionary.

Charismatic leaders use metaphor and anecdotes for a highly impactful storytelling.

Charismatic leaders share powerful, funny stories to engage their audience.

Charismatic leaders do not ask: What do I want them to know?

Charismatic leaders instead ask: What do I want them to feel?

Charismatic leaders certainly do not shy away from sharing personal stories, knowing that this will help them establish an emotional connection with their followers.

I have spent the last decade working with executive leaders and deconstructing the common denominator that the charismatic ones share. Following is the list I came up with — secret ingredients of this somewhat mysterious trait that so many leaders aspire to have:

1.Emotional Intelligence

Charismatic leaders are emotionally intelligent. They are sensitive to their environment and the needs of their followers. They appeal to the emotions of their audience. Their focus is not so much on what people say but rather on the emotions behind it. Since they are excellent at sensing the emotions of others, charismatic leaders are extremely good at finding the most adequate words that deeply resonate with their followers. They are also excellent at managing and expressing their own emotions.

One strategy that Ronald Riggio, Ph.D., a professor at Claremont McKenna College who has spent years researching the development of charisma, recommends is being more expressive with your face. Writing for Psychology Today, Riggio suggests leaders practice different expressions in a mirror and solicit feedback from others on how well they communicate their feelings.

2.Mission Talk

Charismatic leaders speak about their passion and mission as drivers rather than focusing on business methods and processes. The personal vision of charismatic leaders has great influence over their audience. In the charismatic leadership style, emphasis is placed on working toward a greater good. Charismatic leaders will address details and daily operations at the right time, and they will immediately link it to the bigger vision, stressing the importance of a single puzzle piece in the whole. But, they will never try to lead people by a “how-to” talk. Charismatic leaders lead with a “why.”

3.High Energy

Charismatic leaders are full of energy. When they show up, they show up in their full presence capacity. Their body posture, tone of voice, face mimic and gestures all send a united message. Their energy is contagious. Because they are able to step into their own power in this way, they empower others to do the same. Charismatic leaders leave people feeling more energized when they exit the room.

4.Personable and Vulnerable

Charismatic leaders understand that people bring their whole selves to work, so they are interested in finding out who their people are in their personal lives. What drives them? What do they currently have going on in their personal life? They will remember the names and stories of people and will get back to it at a later moment. At the same time, they will share their personal stories. In particular, they will not shy away from sharing personal stories that reveal their vulnerability — they know that this builds trust and creates a safe environment for their people to do the same.

5.High Standards and High Trust

Charismatic leaders set high standards for themselves and their people. When it comes to inspiring followers to perform up to those standards, they put absolute trust in their people and paint an appealing and positive vision for their followers to step into. Whenever their high-performance standards are not being met, they will address it in a transparent and positive manner focusing on the way forward. They can always clearly distinguish a person’s potential from any demonstrated performance and often see more in people than they see in themselves.


Charismatic leaders are often adept at using unconventional behaviors. They tend to be courageous, creative thinkers and less risk averse than average leaders. They can sometimes be unpredictable and even impulsive, which is a characteristic that needs to be carefully managed within an organization. Charismatic leaders feel completely at ease in their own skin and may have a unique choice of the words or even clothing they use to express themselves.

It is clear that all of the above skills can be trained and developed, which implies that charisma as such is COACHABLE & TRAINABLE.

Charismatic leaders are not only born, they can most definitely also be grown.

If you would like to become a more charismatic leader, you can consider hiring an executive coach or DIY approach. For those of you considering a DIY approach, here is a few questions to begin this self- development journey:

  • Which skill from the above list would I like to be improve, in order to become a more charismatic leader?
  • On a scale of 1–10, where are you at the moment in terms of this skill and where would you ideally like to be?
  • What is the one action you could take this week to start closing the gap between you are and where you would like to be?

If you don’t get to far with the above self-reflection exercise, consider reaching out to your personal board of directors instead — they will most probably be happy to provide feedback on where you should focus your development effort as well as suggest some actions you could take to start closing the gap!

Marina Cvetkovic is a board advisor and millennial board member. She focuses on revolutionizing the boardroom culture and processes to set companies up for success in the disruptive market. Marina also runs premium board mentoring programs for aspiring female candidates.

To learn more about Marina’s work, visit: www.thepeakalliance.com.

To connect with Marina: LinkedIn