The Unspoken Taboos of Leadership: Exploring Charisma

Leadership is messy — and not for everyone. It’s a contact sport, and people get hurt.

Unfortunately, the subject remains poorly understood. Part of the problem is the expansion of the term “leadership” to refer to anyone who is relatively skilled, holds a position of some authority and has a modicum of charisma.

We talk about servant leaders who influence quietly, leading from the heart or by example, or passionate, irreverent, inclusive and visionary leaders. We fail to discuss the importance of power, intelligence, self-centeredness, political gamesmanship, double standards, insecurity, arrogance, competitive fire or manipulation—the unspoken leadership taboos.

From a psychological standpoint, we prefer our leaders to be like movie stars and elected officials—idealized versions of who we want to be. It’s now time to tackle taboos: emotional hot buttons that are too painful, embarrassing, threatening or complicated to discuss openly.

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This is a brief synopsis of a 2000 word article suitable for consultants’ newsletters for executives and leaders in organizations. It is available for purchase with full reprint rights, which means you may put your name on it and use it in your newsletters, blogs or other marketing materials. You may also modify it and add your personal experiences.

There are two versions of this article: 2000 words and 1000 words (approximate word counts). The full article covers the following sub-topics:

Placing a Taboo on Taboos
Taboo #1: Charisma Shouldn’t Matter
Charisma Does Matter
A Leader Like Me, Only Better
A Developmental Path to Leadership
Skill Builder
Motivator
Visionary
The Mystic Factor
How to Cultivate Your Mystique
Should Leaders Use Charisma?

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