Character versus Charisma: The Ingredient of Leadership

“But charisma only wins people’s attention. Once you have their attention, you have to have something to tell them.”

Daniel Quinn

As a sugar lover, which one would you prefer, the doughnut with sugar sprinkled only on its surface or the one stuffed with jam and sugar even from the mixing of its dough? Leadership is majorly about influence, how much you can make the people see from your perspective and follow your course. There are a variety of ways through which this influence can be achieved but there is a specific way to create a lasting one.

Charisma is a charm, a grace, a disposition that attracts others to you. It can be superficial and in-grained in a person, but it depends on others to be appreciated. It is the ability to inspire and create zeal in another person. Remember leadership like I’ve said is about influence, charismatic individuals can garner a good amount of influence with their charm of enthusiasm.

But the thing about charisma is that you will need to keep putting up the show. It is an outward display that calls attention and draws others to you. The main characteristics that are attached to charisma like making others comfortable, getting along with people easily, having a noticeable presence are all that you will need to keep doing of your influence will remain.

One without the other

It is very easy to win people over to your side when you can appeal to their senses with your charm. It is almost impossible not to notice a charismatic person in a group, he/she exudes such a high amount of enthusiasm that calls for attention. It is the fastest way to create an influence but does it keep it? Charisma is like a nice wrapper, no one eats the wrapper. It is only a matter of time before the wrapper is done away with.

“Charisma without character is postponed calamity.”

Peter Ajisafe

Without the right character backing, charisma will only amount to a danger waiting to happen. Imagine a poison nicely wrapped with an attractive chocolate wrapper. I once had a story of a dear lady who was swayed by the guile and charm of a young man. His eloquence of speech and mastery with words was really beyond exaggeration, he was indeed a word bender. But there was more to the nicely fashioned apparel and warm gestures of the young man.

A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together.

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

With due respect to the comely females, we do get attracted to the outward appeal of men easily. Yes, the appeal and charm must be there, but that is not all that is needed. The lady did not at that time see beyond the allure and poise and that is common with many supposed leaders. Take note of it that leadership is not just about elevated positions, it is first about how you lead your personal life. It was too late already before the lady discovered that charisma cannot suffice or take the place of character.

A more worthy course

It is worthy and necessary to have the appeal that calls attention. It is necessary to have the mastery of words and be superb in style. Charisma is a required ingredient but it is not enough, I am here to tell you about a more worthy ingredient for leaders. Irrespective of the level of leadership you fall into, leading from the crowd or at the fore or it is your personal life, this is a necessity.

“Character is the firm foundation stone upon which one must build to win respect. Just as no worthy building can be erected on a weak foundation, so no lasting reputation worthy of respect can be built on a weak character.”

R. C. Samsel

Character is the qualities both moral and mental that someone possesses. This is where we talk about qualities like honesty, integrity, trust, loyalty, honor, chastity, reputation, perseverance, and patience. The essence of a character is from within an individual, it cannot be worn like a garment. It must be groomed and nurtured. This makes it possible to mask negative characters with a façade of charm but like smoke, it will inevitably come forth.

True influence is one that is genuine and lasting. Such a deep-seated trust and loyalty cannot be gotten with a superficial demeanor but an ingrained set of quality that sets each person apart. It is wonderful to combine both character and charisma, but character alone can create a persisting influence that is at the core of leadership. It is a character that can sustain influence and keep followers motivated.

“Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are to some extent a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it piece by piece—by thought, choice, courage and determination.”

John Luther

Developing good characters is a journey that takes commitment and dedication. It is like a sculptor trying to chisel out a lovely piece from a stone, it is a whole lot of work. But the taste of the pudding is always in the eating, the result is worth the process. Don’t settle for the transient attention that your carriage and charm can bring you, get your character sharpened for a lasting influence on others.

Look not at others and settle the score of self-leadership first, character is what keeps you afloat when the times are rough or smooth. When a man is in affluence, it is character, not charisma that keeps him from going overboard. Power and money are more intoxicating than liquor, if you fail to develop virtues of honesty, integrity, moderation, fairness, and discipline, you may be on a fast ride down the lane of destruction. It is character that helps to tame the desire for absolute power, manipulations, and control over others.

Charisma is never enough, character is the better ingredient for leaders. You want to improve on your self-leadership ability, or your ability to lead others? Prioritize the development of positive character. Charisma can fail, but character never fails.

The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor but without folly.

Jim Rohn

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