The Hidden Flaw in Visionary Leadership: Why Charisma Isn’t Enough


Are you relying too much on charisma in your leadership role? Find out why character is crucial for lasting influence and how it can transform your approach to leadership. This post reveals the often-overlooked flaw in relying solely on vision and charisma, offering practical insights for developing deeper, more effective leadership skills.

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You’ve heard it a thousand times in leadership: People engage to VISION.

The thought is that casting a compelling enough vision compels everyone (staff, employees, customers, etc.) to engage in your organization.

But this suggestion is only partially correct.

Vision alone isn’t enough. A trusted vision through proven execution engages people. Words may trick people once, but not twice.

Leadership Charisma is Like Empty Vision Statements

There’s a connection between unexecuted vision and charismatic leaders.

Just like a vision that never comes to fruition, a leader relying only on their charm and charisma finds it challenging to build influence with their team, employees, and organization.

A charismatic leader looks great on the surface, but like beauty, charisma is only skin deep.

If leadership is about influence, then time is required. Influence takes time to grow and requires more than charisma to sustain.

Stepping Into New Leadership Roles

In my new book, Big Shoes To Fill, I walk leaders through stepping into new leadership roles. While researching the topic, I found how frequently leaders rely on their charisma to win over their inherited teams.

And then they find out charm isn’t enough.

Sure, a portion of charisma is helpful, but more is needed.

This is true for all leadership spaces but is especially critical for leaders stepping into new roles. When you inherit a team, department, division, or organization, everyone has one predominant question: How will this leadership transition affect me?

With your predecessor, the team knew where they stood. They understood how the leader worked. They knew (mostly) how to win. Now you’re here, and that “understanding” has evaporated. The lack of comfort is overwhelming.

Stepping into this reality with charm and charisma is fine, but those you’re inheriting want to know who you are and how you operate beyond the catchphrases and winsome smiles.

Winning Influence with Character

Gaining influence is the key to long-term leadership success. After all, leadership is influence.

Like an empty vision statement, charisma without character is disingenuous. Leaders with great character interact with their team through:

  1. Respect and Integrity: High-character leaders respect each employee as an individual, valuing their unique contributions and treating them with dignity.
  2. Open Communication: They foster an environment of open and honest communication, encouraging employees to share their ideas and concerns.
  3. Empathy and Understanding: They show empathy and strive to understand their employees’ challenges, both in and out of the workplace.
  4. Fairness and Equality: They treat all employees fairly, providing equal opportunities for growth and advancement.
  5. Recognition and Appreciation: They acknowledge and appreciate their team’s hard work and achievements, giving credit rather than taking credit.
  6. Encouragement and Support: They support and encourage professional development, offering guidance and resources for growth.
  7. Constructive Feedback: They provide constructive feedback in a positive manner, focusing on growth and improvement rather than criticism.
  8. Leading by Example: They lead by example, demonstrating the values and behaviors they expect from their team.
  9. Trust and Autonomy: They trust their employees and give them autonomy, allowing them to own their work and decisions.
  10. Personal and Professional Balance: They understand the importance of life balance and support policies that enable their employees to maintain it.

To Summarize…

Leaders with high character are FOR others over themselves.

Some Thoughts From Big Shoes To Fill

I unpack many practices and tactics that help leaders go beyond charisma in the book. To be clear (again), I’m not suggesting charisma is bad; it’s just that charisma without character leaves everyone frustrated over time. Talking a good game without elevating the players around you is a recipe for failure.

If you’re a leader hopping to maximize your character, pay special attention to the following chapters in the book:

  • Chapters 4 & 5: The Organizational, Team, and Personal Tensions of Leadership Transitions
  • Chapter 7: Learning The Team
  • Part 3 (Chapters 11 – 15): The Emotional Journey of Leadership Transitions
  • Chapter 17: Attracting and Retaining Leaders of Leaders

Each of these chapters focuses on the character side of putting those around you first while understanding their experiences.

P.S.: After you pre-order the book, GET YOUR FREE BONUS RESOURCES HERE!