Overcoming the Seduction of Charisma


Charismatic leaders are bigger than life. You aren’t one of them.

Very few leaders move people through charisma, personality, and up front skills. It’s not likely you have enough charisma to lead through charisma.

Successful leadership doesn’t require charisma.

Weak people want leaders to be bigger, brighter, and prettier than they are. But, everyone’s a mess somewhere. Those who’ve arrived haven’t! Drop the façade. Everyone’s on a journey.

Charismatic leaders create followers.
Great leaders create leaders.

Hypocrites say leadership is about others and then say look at me.

Do you enjoy someone:

  1. Looking over your shoulder?
  2. Telling you what to do?
  3. Rushing to fix?

How do you like it when someone “helps” you? I hope you hate it! Potential leaders hate it too.

If they don’t hate being helped, you’ve trained them to be helpless monkeys looking for bananas from their zookeeper.

Create leaders by asking questions like:

  1. What are you accomplishing through others? Why is it important?
  2. How are you impacting the emotional state of others? Lift potential leaders out of their own world and into the world of others.
  3. What’s frustrating you? Help them clarify priorities. Leaders who aren’t frustrated with something are losers.
  4. Where and how can you make the greatest impact? Establish focus.
  5. Do you need anything from me? Don’t help until you’re asked. If you see a train wreck coming, determine if it’s worth it to let it happen. Step in reluctantly and never say, “I told you so.”


  1. Expect ownership. The more you own, the less they own. Ownership includes owning the good and the bad.
  2. Be available. Don’t meddle.
  3. Listen don’t solve.
  4. Everything is a learning opportunity.
  5. Allow or create strategic disadvantage. Moderate stress creates growth.
  6. Agree on high standards.

Develop the ability to develop others. Forget about developing charisma.

How might charisma get in the way of leadership?

How can leaders best create more leaders?