Charisma and Success In HR: Is There a Connection?

I read in a Brian Tracy newsletter the following “There is a close association between personal charisma and success in life. Probably 85 percent of your success and happiness will come from your relationships and interactions with others. The more positively others respond to you, the easier it will be for you to get the things you want.” Charisma is a powerful thing and we can think of many past leaders who have successfully used their ability to attract people by force of personality. Even today many attribute Barak Obama’s success in getting the Democrat Party nomination on his charisma.

This got me to thinking of human resources and the effect of charisma. Is it a prerequisite for being successful in HR? Do you get promoted to the Vice Presidential level as a result of it or can you achieve that level without it? That may depend on your definition of success and your definition of charisma.

To me charisma is the ability to attract people to you. That attraction is made up of likability, trustworthiness, the ability to instill confidence and the perception of competence. Given that definition I think charisma is critical to success in HR. You must be approachable, you must be trustworthy, you must make people feel like you know what you are talking about and they must feel that you will accomplish what you say you will. Without that your knowledge of HR and you time in the field counts for little.

To make it to VP I think you need to add the ability to spur people to action and the abiltiy to clearly communicate your ideas and vision. This adds that very visible component of charisma.

Of course we all know people in HR positions, even VPs, who do not have this charisma. They may be great technicians, but they are not approachable and thus not charismatic. This is unfortunate for the profession. What is worse is the people in the job who are not only uncharismatic, but also not technically sound.

If you are not currently the charismatic leader you would like to be, the good news is you can change that. You can:
  • Work on how you communicate (Writing classes)
  • Work on how technically sound you are (PHR, SPHR)
  • Work on being trustworthy (keep confidences)
  • Work on your speaking ability (Toastmasters)
  • Work on your self perception (See Brian Tracy, Earl Nightngale, Dale Carnegie, etc.)

Although I have never met him in person Kris Dunn of The HR Capitalist has charisma. VP level, superb written communication, attracts talented people and spurs them to action (Fist Full of Talent bloggers) and is very technically sound. So if you are looking for an example he is a good one to start with.

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