Charisma is a personality trait that is actually quite difficult to define, because no one is exactly sure what it really entails. Someone who is described as “charismatic” is generally viewed as having a very charming, persuasive personality, and often it's viewed as an almost supernatural trait, with such individuals being remarkably skilled communicators who can often be quite convincing. One notable individual who was often described as charismatic was former US President John F. Kennedy.
The word “charisma” was originally used by members of the Christian faith. It comes from a Greek word meaning “divine favor,” and it was used to describe individuals like Christ who were capable of creating divine miracles. In its earlier incarnation, the term had much less to do with leadership and communication skills, and much more to do with unusual or extraordinary powers that suggested that the individual was favored by God or the saints.
The idea of charisma as a personality trait was introduced in the early 20th century by Max Weber, a noted German sociologist who studied the sociology of government and leadership. He pointed to several examples of such leaders of various nations, and the term began to acquire a life of its own. Today, leaders and government officials are often described as charismatic, as are prominent religious officials, and on occasion, an ordinary individual may be considered to have this trait as well.
Someone with charisma has a personality that is almost magnetic, paired with superb communication skills. When people associate with someone who possesses this trait, they often have a feeling of well being, contentment, and security that makes them happy to follow the individual. Charisma allows someone to connect with many people on a personal level, paying attention to small details to make them feel more comfortable and to establish a personal connection that could be used later.
For politicians, it's a very useful trait, because it allows them to connect with voters and other officials. Many people remember meetings with charismatic politicians for months or years, taking that memory into the voting booth with them. These politicians also find it easier to get things done, thanks to an extensive network of relationships with people who are willing to help them out.
Many religious figures are also very charismatic, using their persuasive personalities to spread the message of religion and faith. The Reverend Billy Graham, for example, is often described this way, as was Martin Luther King, Jr.