In Search of “It”: What Makes Great Leaders

During my years as a human resources leader with some of the finest global enterprises, I searched for the critical elements that differentiate the truly great leaders from all the others. Some leaders just have that extra something – “It” – that engages others, which allows them to build high-functioning teams that achieve outstanding outcomes.

Early in my career, I identified the “It” as I observed the behaviors of leaders at all levels and with whom I served. It transcended beyond intellectual capacity and one’s ability to grasp complex challenges. I saw that some leaders have the ability to gain cooperation from others by using a combination of awareness (of self and others) and civility to accomplish objectives. I figured out that “It” is in fact charisma – because charisma permits leaders the opportunity to achieve the desired results through the efforts of other individuals.

Charisma is tangible, we know it when we see it and we immediately choose to align ourselves with these leaders. In today’s global business community one’s ability to work with others is as important as the work itself. Integrity, respect and confidence represent the critical underpinnings of charisma. Remember, great results speak volumes, but few actually achieve these on their own.

Many years ago I learned an important lesson within the corporate enterprise – people do not usually get fired for insufficient performance, but rather because someone in a position of authority does not like them. Therefore, charisma is something you must possess. It must be real and visible even when you are executing the most boring of tasks.

In my leadership coaching practice today in New York and in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, it is a given that my clients are smart, hard-working, skilled and functionally capable. Their organizations, however, have determined that without the necessary level of charisma their future contributions and growth will be limited. As such, my advice to clients frequently focuses on the how. How do they go about doing things and not simply the what it is that they are doing.

As in competitive diving, points are awarded on style. Yes, degree of difficulty is important, but style wins.

Want to tap into your own charisma? I bet you do. And I’d love to help you. Read more about how we help leaders to succeed here. Or just give me a call at (203) 613-0228.