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The Importance of Charisma in Leadership

Guest Blogger Richard Tarran explores the importance of charisma in leadership as well as the downfalls of having too much.

As an Executive Coach, many of my clients want to discuss how they can go about increasing their level of influence.

This inevitably boils down to a discussion and reflection on their leadership style and the consequent behaviours. It seems to me without any research that we naturally get on with about a third of the people we interact with. With a tiny bit of application, we get on well with the next third. Then it all starts to get a bit tricky. At work, we have a pretty good coping mechanism for those we don’t ‘get’. We avoid them, work through third parties or as is often the case we end up in conflict with them, either professionally or personally. Never a good situation. As senior leaders, we will be more successful if we get on with more people. However, this takes effort.

Transformational leadership styles versus transactional styles is often a good starting point. Summarised well using Bass and Avolio’s full range leadership model.

In layman’s terms, what you do as:

  1. an influencer (being a good role model)
  2. an inspirational motivator
  3. an intellectual stimulator
  4. a compassionate leader

As opposed to transactional leadership which is about measuring, monitoring, reacting, avoiding, firefighting, etc.

Being a great role model as a leader is not an easy task. Bass and Avolio acknowledged that part of this is down to your natural attributes, your DNA perhaps, but some skills can be learnt.

An article in the Harvard Business Review (Jan-Feb 2018 Issue 96) states,

“Conventional wisdom suggests that the most charismatic leaders are also the best leaders. Charismatic leaders have, for instance, the ability to inspire others towards higher levels of performance and to instil deep levels of commitment, trust, and satisfaction. As a result, they are generally perceived by their subordinates to be more effective, compared with less charismatic leaders. But our research shows that while having at least a moderate level of charisma is important, having too much may hinder a leader’s effectiveness.”

Does that ring any bells?

This does reinforce the need for managers to adjust their style as they become more senior and have responsibility for more people. The need to lead through inspiration is a key transformational skill. They need to stop, reflect and try new things.

When people come to work and feel they are:

  • intellectually stimulated
  • treated as an individual
  • in an optimistic, enthusiastic environment
  • working for people who practice what they preach

They are significantly more likely to put in the extra effort and go the extra mile. This means they will be more effective and more satisfied. A win-win.

If you want to discover what you can do to lead in a more effective manner as you become more senior or how you can get on with more people then perhaps consider being coached.

Alternatively, discover more about how you present yourself as a leader with our free open event.

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Richard Tarran

Written by Richard Tarran

I was a Military Officer for 16 years and for the last 17 years have worked extensively in training and personal development. Executive coaching is my forte which is enhanced by my ability to back up concepts with evidence. I have a very client-focused ethos and feedback says that I am flexible and willingly focus time on the challenges in hand.

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