Contextual charisma

Most successful founders are charismatic. However, this doesn’t mean that they have what we commonly think of as a charismatic personality. They’re not all life of the party smooth communicators. Some of our best founders are reserved, thoughtful, and deliberate in character. Most people wouldn’t describe them as being charismatic in every day conversation.

In other words, their charisma isn’t an overarching character trait, but one that comes alive in the specific context of their startup. It’s when they’re talking about their company and what they’re going to accomplish in the future that their charisma surfaces. They’re obsessed with what they’re doing and this obsession earns the respect of others (employees, business partners, the media, investors). They find what they’re doing of utmost meaning and, since we each look for meaning in our own lives, we want to be part of helping them realize the meaning that they’ve found.

Fortunately for investors, this contextual charisma isn’t easy for entrepreneurs to fake. You just have to take in all the signals, trust your interpretation of them, and not confuse your own belief in the meaning of the startup with that carried by the entrepreneur.

Also published on Medium.