Character vs. Charisma in Leadership

Character-based leadership is leading from who you are, not your position or power. Your character creates true influence, especially when your character also includes being competent.  Your rank in the company or your title doesn't create real leadership influence, but a substitute influence that manipulates others to do what you want done.  Your true influence comes from the people who volunteer to join you on your quest, from understanding the mission and trusting you have the strategy and the competence to help them get there.

But character is difficult to know and easy to mask.  We often don't know or even like who we truly are.  For me, the real Mike Henry can be much less than I'd like.  I'm reminded of the line by Frank Cross (Bill Murray's character) from Scrooged. (It's at the 9:09 mark in this video.)

It's Christmas Eve! It's... it's the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we... we... we smile a little easier, we... w-w-we... we... we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be!

Charisma can become a counterfeit for character.  Charisma, defined by Wikipedia as a compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others, can help character-based leaders.  When a leader has charisma, their charm inspires others.  Charisma works like an emotional intelligence that enables leaders to be graceful in relationships.

But if that charisma masks the truth, it becomes a counterfeit of character.  Our world is one where image matters.  Character-based leaders try to fix the true person, the source of the inspiration, influence and leadership rather than simply trying to mask it.

Character is what's truly on the inside - the real you.  If we believe in the power of character-based leadership we won't substitute charisma.  Our character will dictate the charisma.  Maybe we're not very charismatic.  Character-based leaders don't need charisma.  Charisma makes a few things easier.  But in the end, true character inspires, especially when bundled with a great idea and excellent execution.  True character creates true influence. To generate influence through any other means is simply manipulation.

True character creates true influence.

So this year, for more than just a couple of hours, I will be the person I always hoped I would be.  I will trust more (and for me that means I will trust Christ more, too).  I've got to risk being vulnerable and I've got to stick with my plans.  I must resist the temptation to change my mind and my commitment and persist with projects and ideas.  I don't want to be a quitter.

What about you?  You don't need permission to lead... you don't need permission to change the world, if you start with yourself. If you're going to spend more than just a couple of hours being the person you always hoped you would be, what will you change?  Go ahead, ink it below.  And thank you for reading this blog and being part of this group this year.  I appreciate it.

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