Charisma or inspiration? Which one is the best answer? Does it depend on who you ask or not? This question does not feature that famous ‘all of the above’ multiple choice answer that so many of us depended on in school. That wasn’t just me, right?
If you had to pick one auto manufacturer, which option do you prefer from the following choices:
This is NOT one of those conversations, so do not even bother thinking any further about the question that I just asked you. Before I even dive into all of the possible options here, I will tell you that I don’t believe that there is a right answer that is applicable for all situations. If you are a new reader of my blog, let me bring you up to speed real quick. I don’t believe in “one size fits all” approaches to anything and if you do, I urge you to reconsider.
First of all, I am going to rock the boat a bit and say that effective leadership is a matter of perspective. I spent 7 years in Human Resources and I worked with plenty of managers who made money for the companies that they worked for, but all of their people hated them. Is that effective leadership in your opinion? How can it be at the expense of everyone involved? It sounds more like a great manager (of tasks and processes) and someone with a 1950s approach to dealing with people.
I am not trying to piss any of you off, but I do want to get your undivided attention. Have I succeeded in doing that?
In those same 7 years in HR, I had the privilege of working with a few people who did consistently great work with their tasks and goals AND their people. Isn’t that a treat to see? These leaders had both charisma and they were inspirational to everyone around them. Some folks are attracted to charisma, just like a moth to a flame but charisma alone is not enough. A lot of folks respond to inspiration and I would by lying to you if I didn’t admit that I didn’t favor this quality over charisma. With that being said, inspiration alone is also not enough!
If a leader can use both charisma and inspiration to encourage behavior change on a lasting basis, then he or she has something really special going for them. These individuals seem to be really far and few between and they are highly promotable because they have an advantage that most of us do not. That advantage lies in their ability to influence people by their character and not by their position. What a concept, right?
Do you think charisma or being inspirational are learned skills or are people born with them?
Think about that and drop a comment at the end of this post and I will quickly share my thoughts on the answer to this question.
I think that you either have the charisma or you don’t but I think being inspirational is the result of your decisions and how you choose to respond to the circumstances around you. Everyone has the ability to be inspirational in the moment, but maintaining it, consistently is where the real challenge lies.
All of this that we are talking about pertains to startups with single person virtual teams all the way up to huge Fortune 100 companies. Leadership is leadership, period. If you are in a position of leadership, I really want to hear from you. What has worked for you and where do you struggle?
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