An Interview with Martina Gleissenebner-Teskey

I had the pleasure to do an Interview for the Austrian Magazine “Die Niederösterreicherin” and as the Topic “Charisma”, especially in connection with “female charisma” is so important to me, I have chosen to come up with the English Version. Questions by Editor in Chief, Dr. Angelica Pral-Haidbauer.


The meaning of “Charisma” is something like “Gift of Grace”, an innate talent. Can Charisma be learned, too?

We have to differentiate between two kinds of Charisma: first, “Communicative Charisma” which we are able to observe in speakers that truly catch us. This kind of Charisma can be acquired by everyone and can be used in every communicativesSituation, even in one-on-ones.

The second kind is the “Innate Charisma”, the above-mentioned Gift of Grace, that can be developed only from within. Of course, there are distinctive methods to develop that kind of Charisma, but you cannot “learn” it. Its seed is innate in everyone but it needs specific conditions to become visible, a specific human, geographical, professional and social environment, for instance. On the other side: innate Charisma cannot be avoided under the right circumstances: it needs to manifest itself, it basically makes its way from inside out.

In our Media-focused and professional world we very often encounter pseudo-charismatic people or movements. What is the difference to the “truly” charismatic personality?

A charismatic’s actions are filled with dedication – and, we may say so – with exclusiveness and drive close to obsession. Charismatic people are driven by their inner vision of what they wish to make come true (note: rather than “achieve”!), respectively a vision of how things should be/ should work. Because of that, the highest potential of change lies in charismatic personalities. Through the vision that fulfills them completely, they inspire others to new ways of thinking and behavior.

You mention Franz Kafkas mouse in his “Little Fable” (note: whichever direction the mouse choses, she will always run into death). Is it correct that whatever women do, it is wrong, and that they will never escape the rat race of wanting to please others?

Women do not do anything in a wrong way. However, they very often PERCEIVE themselves as doing it wrongly or at least to never do it right. And that’s the crux of the matter: girls are still taught to adapt, to be pretty, nice and most of all pleasing. The passion, the rebelliousness and differentness characterizing Charisma – the exclusiveness that comes along with it – do not comply with the socially preferred female nature. It demands courage to free oneself from the rat race of wanting to please. On the one hand, it demands the courage of drawing limits and on the other hand the courage of giving in to ones passion without any limits. Charismatic people are very often characterized by an inner strength: it stems from that kind of courage

Why do people in leading positions need Charisma?

Scientific studies have shown that charismatic leaders succeed well in strengthening the cohesion of their teams, that their employees show a higher level of commitment and are more willing to accept change. Charismatic people are able to convey their views in such a way to instill the wish in others to be part of the game and to commit themselves to a common goal. Their strength and decisiveness creates a feeling of safety and individual power in others, even in times of insecurity.

You say, “It is time to become visible.” What do you mean by that?

Women are still underrepresented in economic, political and important social power positions and where they are, they tend to Assimilate the “Code of Conduct” already in place. I wish for women to follow their own “True North”, to put their values into practice in the professional environment and to co-create this world actively – and unassimilated. I wish for female charismatics.

Which communication strategies can be acquired?

All verbal, non-verbal and para-verbal communication strategies can be acquired– and this is applicable to situations of public speaking as well as to one-on-ones.

Are you charismatic?

Even though charisma can be analyzed objectively, it cannot be valued objectively and is therefore a trait that can only be attributed by others, not by oneself. When I connect to my deepest passions in my work as a trainer and developer, I often get the feedback of being perceived as charismatic.


One video I have come across lately has inspired me a lot in my own quest for “charismatic women”. Watch it here:


This post is also available in: German