Charismatic leaders

HRM 28 Dec 2012

Soo Kam Tatt

Director, Hypertherm Asia

Charisma and extroversion are good traits for leaders to possess. A charismatic leader has the ability to draw people into what they are sharing. In the process, he can motivate and steer them in the desired direction.

While being charismatic is great, it is an innate characteristic rather than something that can be nurtured. To a certain extent, an engaging leader tends to be one that’s outgoing as well.

As long as this does not come across as aggressive or arrogant, extroversion is a good trait. Being extroverted complements charisma in that: in the absence of the latter, an outgoing leader can reach out to his people in order to understand them better.

This is another way the leader will be able to motivate the employees in the right direction to meet the corporate vision and goals.

If a leader does not exhibit either of these characteristics, it is not the end of the world as there are quiet leaders who perform very well too. However, these are more of the exception rather than the norm.

An engaging leader is one that will make a difference with his team and these qualities, although not must-haves, are very good characteristics to possess as staff will be more inclined to follow the leader and this will in turn drive the success of the organisation.


Logan Velaitham

CEO, AirAsia Singapore

Extroverted leadership is about leaders with an open mindset- those who have no physical and mental blockage. Someone who can communicate with people from all walks of life freely and casually falls under this category. Fostering two-way communication and removing hierarchies to achieve a fun and homely work environment are some of the other attributes of extroverted leaders.

Getting to know people at a personal level and ensuring that their voices are heard will certainly make them feel important. Maintaining professionalism at work is good but getting to know your employees at a more personal level is better. This expectation is on the rise as Gen Y are entering the work force. Being extroverted allows a leader to understand, engage and manage Gen Y as they themselves are getting more extroverted with the rise of social media. They care and feel for others and how others treat them in return.

Social media indirectly gets introverted leaders into an extroverted mode. Leaders on the same social media platforms as employees can quickly find out how they are feeling at work, information can be shared, and feedback can be received promptly.

When a leader is engaged via social media, it can elevate one to become a charismatic leader as you are a leader who listens. Taking the effort to engage, listen and understand are qualities of a good charismatic leader.


Siew Yim Cheng

Chief Information Officer, JTC Corporation

Looking back at the great leaders I had worked for and worked with, I would say that great leaders are people who can inspire trust, connect well with their followers and can paint a clear and passionate vision of the better place that they are all aiming towards. Charisma is not as important a factor as one may think as there are many other traits that make a great leader.

A great leader is only successful if he or she is supported by a great team. A team that is prepared to follow him or her and go over and beyond the call of duty to give their best and more.

Such great teams don’t happen overnight as they need to be built. There are no shortcuts to achieving this – charisma and being extroverted are advantageous attributes but not quite enough.

For authentic leadership, you have to be yourself, create a lasting impact that is reinforced by actions that demonstrate that you walk the talk, and build trust by ensuring follow through on all commitments.

This would ultimately be the mark and legacy of a great leader – a genuine person who has the capability to make people feel so important and valued that they are prepared to continually give their best and more.

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