Charisma and humility are not necessarily two ends of one spectrum. Charisma is a special magnetic charm or appeal one has with others (Merriam-Webster, 2004), while humility a quality of not thinking you are better than others (Merriam-Webster, 2004). There is no reason these two cannot coexist without violating the nature of the other. If fact, it is likely that humility will increase a leader’s level of charisma.
To be humble is to possess an ability to have the patience to listen and learn from others, which leads to establishing productive relationships (Terrell & Rosenbusch, 2013). By listening to others, leaders communicate that they value what others have to say and are in a teachable position. This teachable posture provides opportunities to learn and grow, while also cultivating relationships.
Jim Collins (2001) provided four aspects of humility for leaders: demonstrating compelling modesty, acting out of a calm and quiet determination, selflessly seeking multi-generational growth, and being self-reflective enough to take blame whenever possible. Leaders who do implement these four aspects of humility in their daily lives will increase the influence they have with others by becoming endearing to followers and others they come into contact with. Their calming demeanor will create a sense of peace for others, and when people encounter calming personalities that possess a quiet strength in their fast-paced, media-drown lives, they want to be in their presence more.
Humility starts and ends with God (Bekker, 2008). This may be why humble leaders are more likely to possess true charisma. Christ’s followers are not to act out of selfish ambition, but humbly value others over themselves (Phil. 2:3). If leaders do this, leverage their influence and position for the well-being of others, valuing them first, then they will enjoy a supernatural appeal to others.
Bekker, C. (2008). Leading with the Head Bowed Down: Lessons in Leadership Humility from the Rule of St Benedict of Nursia. Inner Resources for Leaders, vol. 1(iss. 3), pp. 1–10.
Collins, J. (2001). Level 5 leadership. The triumph of humility and fierce resolve. Harvard Business Review, 79(1), 66–76, 175.
Merriam-Webster. (2004). The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (Revised edition). Springfield, Mass: Merriam-Webster Mass Market.
Terrell, R. S., & Rosenbusch, K. (2013). How global leaders develop. Journal of Management Development, 32(10), 1056–1079. http://doi.org/10.1108/JMD-01-2012-0008