How much real influence do you have?

In her book “The Charisma Myth – Master the Art of Personal Magnetism”, Olivia Fox Cabane contends that “charisma is a skill you can learn and practice.”

Certainly there are skills that can be developed that help us be more present, more focused, more considerate, more engaging. These make us more attractive to others.

Robert B. Cialdini says in his classic book, “Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion” says that these skills can turn influence to selfish ends. By using social norms and unconscious bias, we can make people buy things they don’t really want, vote for ‘popular’ candidates that don’t truly match our values, and even persuade otherwise good samaritans to perform heinous acts of torture.


How often have you been ‘duped’ into buying raffle tickets, or attending a social function you didn’t really want to go to because you felt obligated? This is influence – manipulation – at work.

I’ve been pressured into wine club subscriptions, monthly charity contributions outside of my budget, even buying books, clothes, and knick knacks because I felt obligated to the gracious, friendly sales person. (I know! I sound like an easy target. But I’m not alone.)

Influence can be manipulation. Charisma can be deception.

Charisma without a purpose of service is rampant ego.

What we want as centered, connected leaders is to influence from an ethical, purpose-driven place. We want to call people to action that is good not only for us, but for them, for the community, and for the planet.

Charisma without connected purpose is like all gravy without the meat, icing without the cake. It makes us feel a little sick.

To develop real influence and genuine charisma, start with intention. Who are we serving? How might we help them? What difference will that make?

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