Talking Point

On the Seventh day of Christmas – Charisma

Today, Rachel Royall, Director of Communications for NHS Digital writes about charisma;  Rachel and I first met at an event for aspirant NHS Directors of Nursing – and greeted each other with the words “I cannot believe we haven’t met before”.  She’s now not only a great colleague, but a good friend.  An inspiring woman bringing up three strong boys and leading cutting edge, creative communications within the NHS.  It’s been a privilege to get to know her and also to work with her through PPC’s media training offer.



What does charisma mean to you?

Charisma to me is the X-factor! When someone walks into a room with a compelling charm and presence that draws others to want to be with them or to be part of their ‘circle’.

Charisma is often associated with leadership. When you google charisma presidents like Obama, Bush, Clinton are at the top of the search list. Not all references are male with Michelle Obama, Meryl Streep, Oprah Winfrey and many, many other women up there too.

The thing with charisma, is that it can’t be faked. Those individuals with world changing, inspiring charisma have an authenticity to them. They refuse to leave their personality at the door and are confident in who they are and their values base. As a result they attract a following, and perhaps unintentionally, people advocate for them, based on their personality, values and charm. However, it perhaps isn’t universal.

A little like beauty, it’s in the eye of the beholder, and when associated with characters such as Trump or Adolf Hitler can have a dangerous edge, as individuals blindly follow charisma at the expense of ethics or integrity. Elections and business decisions throughout history appear to have been affected by charismatic personalities.


Interestingly charisma has some Greek origins that suggest that it is gift from God, and therefore are some people just simply born with it or can it be cultivated? Possibly… through building confidence in who you are, techniques to improve gravitas and other personal development tactics – charisma could be mimicked. However, true, authentic, instinctive charisma would always win the day.



What importance has it been to you in 2017


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have epitomised charisma for me in 2017. It isn’t just about what individuals do, but charisma is about how they make you feel. They have absolutely lifted the spirits of the nation and maintained their values base and their individual personalities shine through.

Throughout 2017 I have had the real privilege of working with some charismatic leaders, individuals that are inspiring and driving change throughout the health service and within the communication profession. Individuals who although there are challenges and the context in which we work can be complex, they have an ability to transcend the drudgery and with an unerring optimism and sense of humour are always able to find a way through.


Epiphany is all about looking forward what are your hopes for 2018?

Calmness, happiness and new beginnings. I’ve had a pretty turbulent couple of years with some significant life changing events, including a new job. I’m looking forward to settling into the new order of things, building and developing my team and new relationships, and being liberated to enjoy the things that make me happy.


Who are your three wise men or women?

Maire my coach, I’ve worked with Maire for the last few years and she’s incredibly wise, she’s really helped me to understand who I am in order to help me be the best person that I can be.

Jake my eldest son – no matter what the issue, Jake will always have a sensible, simple, pragmatic solution, seeing the world through the simplicity of a child’s eyes can be quite liberating at times.

My dad – late at night, often with whisky, we’ve often been known to put the world to rights.

What or whom is your guiding star?

In my professional capacity it’s always to do what’s right for the patient or the member of the public, to view things from their perspective, to walk a mile in their shoes. If you act and make decisions with kindness and the right intent, you can rarely go wrong.

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