The Idea: Our culture is addicted to charismatic figures – government officials and higher profile leaders with the gift of public speaking, personal impact and persuasion. We are pulled in by these attributes even when there is a void in competence or character. Why are we vulnerable to these traits? Style and image are magnetic, but substance matters. Management guru, Peter Drucker, once argued, “no effective leader he’d met was ‘charismatic.’” In other words, the best managers are not showy, excessive, colorful, or ostentatious. Why do understated managers drive substantially more growth?
The best managers are trustworthy, teach well, encourage others and get the best out of their teammates. Others may call them boring, but what some mistake for boring is really emotional stability.
In comparison, many of the most celebrated icons in business, the arts and government are quite the opposite. They often times have very poor emotional intelligence, and their frustration with others damages trust. They are prone to quick frustration, are poor listeners and fall apart when others criticize or critique them. Ironically, their high emotions are one of the reasons they get derailed, and everyone in their sphere feels the effect of their mood swings.
So what characteristics create healthy dynamics?
Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a professor at University College London, explains in the Harvard Business Review that great managers are “boring.” They often struggle with charisma and public speaking skills, but they are trustworthy, supportive and very productive. He argues the best managers are honest, candid, apolitical, not selfish and good at coaching their teams. When thinking about bringing on or promoting someone to a new leadership position think through the following questions.
- Is the person aware of how they affect others?
- Does the person manage pressure well or do they alienate others?
- Do they take personal responsibility when others confront them with a mistake?
- Are they great listeners, mentors or coaches with members of the team?
- Can they say the words “I am sorry” or “How can I help you?”
Emotional stability is fertile ground in any organization. It is the sole of a healthy culture. Disruption, speed to market, game changing ideas are necessary to achieve advantage. But it must be led by balanced, healthy, thoughtful leadership who foster confidence and certainty in others.