Insights

Why a charisma overdose in leaders can be too much of a good thing

Why a charisma overdose in leaders can be too much of a good thing

Charisma is often thought of as an ideal personality trait – but does it encourage leaders to focus only on goals, rather than the finer detail of how you actually get there?

From self-help books to YouTube videos, from public-speaking clubs like Toastmasters to public-speaking gurus like Tony Robbins, and from Jennifer Lawrence to Will Smith, Rihanna and George Clooney, we’re surrounded by numerous, glittering reasons to boost our charisma. It’s an inescapable, mesmerising state of mind – and a powerful amplifier for body language, too.

For many people, charisma feels like a kind of riddle that they’re itching to crack. Everyone who’s famous and successful seems to have a spare bottle of it that they can uncork, swig and bask in the effects of, wherever they go. We gaze at the bottomless energies, and easy-going media personas, of business leaders such as Richard Branson and Tim Cook – or of top figures in the Arts world, such as the Young Vic’s new artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah – and we wonder where they get their charisma from, and how we could get it, too.

Charisma is, in many ways, a kind of drug. But as with any drug, there’s a line of smallprint on the packaging warning us, ‘Results may vary’ – and an ever-present danger of getting high on your own supply.

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How should leaders prevent an Uber-style exodus of top talent?

How should leaders prevent an Uber-style exodus of top talent?

Uber’s freewheeling corporate culture may have sparked rapid growth, but it has also left the firm’s senior leadership talent in tatters. What can other firms learn from this chaos?

Who’d have thought it – now Uber needs a taxi out of town. In a move that has upset commuters, tourists and frequent night-time travellers, Transport for London (TfL) has refused to renew the app-driven cab service’s licence to work in the UK Capital. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the company founded by the combative Travis Kalanick is suffering from a serious exodus of senior talent… one that, in the summer, even claimed Kalanick himself.

It may seem on the surface that the two developments have little to do with each other – the first being a local difficulty, and the second being a whirlpool of internal politics at the US head office. But in fact, they are intimately linked. To uncover the connection between Uber’s regulatory and commercial nightmare in London and its wave of talent departures back in Silicon Valley, we need only explore the reasons that TfL provided for banishing the firm from such a lucrative market.

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Why leaders must steer clear of blame culture when plans don’t work out

Why leaders must steer clear of blame culture when plans don’t work out

As she publishes her side of her 2016 election defeat, Hillary Clinton stands accused of deflecting blame elsewhere. Here’s why leaders can’t afford to operate a blame culture

It probably wouldn’t have escaped your notice that Hillary Clinton has just published a book. Indeed, over the past week, coverage of the publication has flowed at a seemingly uncontrollable rate, with the former US Secretary of State decisively breaking her silence over a host of deeply uncomfortable matters. Titled What Happened, the book recounts the tumultuous course of last year’s US General Election campaign, which propelled Hillary’s opponent – Twitter-twitching tycoon Donald Trump – into the White House. (Incredibly, that jaw-dropping result is now almost a year old.)

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How Tim Cook knocked it out of the park in the empathy league

How Tim Cook knocked it out of the park in the empathy league

With his morale-boosting email to staff affected by Hurricane Harvey, Apple’s CEO masterfully showed how leaders can achieve empathy with their workers

There are few things in life more soothing than the message, “I know how you feel.”

Empathy is a precious commodity – much sought after, but not even half as widely available as it should be. And that’s particularly true within leadership. So we must welcome the intervention of someone with a neon-lit public profile riding into the agenda like a one-man cavalry charge to show us all how it’s done. Someone, for instance, like Apple CEO Tim Cook.

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Don’t want a whistleblower? Then maintain an ethical culture!

Don’t want a whistleblower? Then maintain an ethical culture!

It’s never on a casual whim that an employee becomes a whistleblower. Whistleblowing is a big deal – an arduous process that immediately puts a member of staff at odds with a huge, established machine. The act of speaking out when others won’t poses clear risks for an employee’s wellbeing: stress will rocket immediately at the prospect of a damaged career. This will only worsen when lawyers get involved. Who wouldn’t suffer in a climate where one has to put in full-time hours and yet must also spend a great deal of extra time doing casework relating to the very same workplace? It’s exhausting just to think about.

So, why do employees do it? What’s the trigger that makes the deeply unpalatable, not to mention daunting, prospect of whistleblowing something that must be done… a moral duty? Taking a glance at some recent cases will provide us with a few clues…

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