Jim Collins

The point is not just that leaders don’t need charisma; it’s that if they have it, it’s a problem they need to address and overcome. There are, of course, leaders who manage this, which doesn’t mean they must lose it, but they need to understand its liabilities. Chief among these is that charisma enables you to convince people to do the wrong things, hence to be charismatic and wrong is a bad combination because you can win arguments and persuade people to make the wrong choices. We saw the effects of this in any number of our comparison companies. Being charismatic and right, however, is a good combination. If people find your argument to be unpalatable – with charisma you can sway them. If, on the other hand, you are uncharismatic, you will need to win the argument based on its merits.

A charismatic leader poses another problem in that the company may feel it needs him or her in order to succeed. But what happens when that leader is no longer there? A charismatic leadership model is not good for building a great company over time because eventually that leader will leave or die. This is not an issue for an institution that does not depend on charisma.

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