Myth #2: “To Be A Good Leader I Have To Be Charismatic”

Is charisma a skill that can be taught?  No its not says Mark Oliver.  He gives an example of a very charismatic President of the USA who achieved very little in his Presidency.

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Mentor – Mark Oliver

  • Charisma is not very trainable but is nice to have. You can be very successful without it.
  • Myth: extraverts are better salespeople than introverts.
  • Care is the key to leadership and selling.

Property Management Matters with Tara Bradbury – In role play you need to keep it real.


Kevin: Is charisma a skill that can be taught? Well, not it’s not according to Mark Oliver, who’s our guest all this week. He gives us an example too today of a very charismatic President of the USA who achieved very little in his presidency. Good morning once again Mark, and thanks for your time.

Mark: My pleasure, Kevin. Good to be here again.

Kevin: We’re taking portions out of Mark’s book called Motivational Leadership. Where’s the book available, by the way, Mark? I meant to ask you yesterday.

Mark: Well you can get it on worldwide. You can get it from us direct. It will be in Amazon and major book sellers online in a couple of weeks.

Kevin: Excellent.

Mark: And it’s available anywhere around the world.

Kevin: Charisma. Is it trainable?

Mark: I don’t want to be too simplistic of this. Basically it’s not really very trainable. You can improve your charismatic influence to a degree. It is quite difficult to do, and does take a lot of effort. I guess you could say it is trainable to a degree. The reason why I moved away from that and basically said don’t worry about it, it’s not trainable, is because it is actually a minor thing in terms of leading, and for your audience I think it’s probably a minor thing in terms of selling well, although I say that with some hesitancy, because I don’t know the audience environment that well, what it’s like to be in the real estate business.

Mark: But the key thing about charisma is that the easy way to show that, in terms of leadership, you can be highly charismatic and a good leader, highly charismatic and a hopeless leader. You can have no charisma and be a good leader, you can have no charisma and be a hopeless leader. So it’s independent of leadership, and I’m gonna suggest it’s probably independent of being a good real estate person as well.

Kevin: I would agree with that. What do you think is one of the keys to good leadership, and to selling, Mark?

Mark: I touched on it very briefly by inference when I gave the definition yesterday or in our first session, and that was around sacrifice, and actually being selfless. That’s the big difference between leadership and management or other aspects of interaction is leadership is a selfless act. It’s actually where you do something where you genuinely care about others.

Kevin: The characteristics of the best CEO’s. What have you found them to be?

Mark: There’s been a lot of debate around that in the high profile CEO’s like Jack Welch and Lee Iacocca were very much, I guess you could say charismatic. Certainly very confident individuals, very much out there, very extroverted, and full of themselves. There’s a very good bit of research done by Jim Collins who wrote the book Good to Great, showing actually much better leaders, far better just in terms of their financial results, let alone in terms of how much people wanted to be led by them, had completely different characteristics.

Mark: And so he wrote a book called Good to Great. I do recommend it to your listeners. It’s a brilliant read on what makes a good leader. And he came up with just two qualities. And they were humility and determination. And he used a window and a mirror as a metaphor. When Lee Iaccoca or Jack Welch or one of the great leaders that all the business books tend to promote or Harvard Business School tends to brag, they are people who when things were going well, would look in the mirror, and say basically it’s because I’m such a great leader. When things were going badly, they’d look out of the window and say it’s because I haven’t got a good enough staff, or the circumstances are bad for everybody. It’s the economic environment, et cetera.

Mark: Now, everyone of these leaders that Jim Collins found through his research, to emphasise again, far exceeded the performance of GE and other companies that were associated with these so called group leaders, they looked at things the other way around. When things were going well, they looked out the mirror. They wouldn’t take credit. They’d say it’s because I’ve got great staff, or we’re just lucky, et cetera. And when things were going bad, they’d go always look in the mirror and say it’s because of me. It’s my fault.

Mark: Now that’s a much harder way to look at the world, but much more real, and actually much more empowering because if it’s not to do with me, there’s nothing I can do about it. And that’s a good metaphor for understanding good leadership. It’s humility and determination. And I think in many ways, we’ve taken two and a half thousand years to learn the lesson that was given to us by all the great guru’s, whether it’s Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Buddha, Laozi or Confucius, Moses. Two characteristics were shared by them all: humility and determination.

Kevin: I said at the opening today in the show that you’d be telling us about or giving us an example of a President of the United States who achieved very little in his presidency, but was actually quite charismatic. Who is that?

Mark: JF Kennedy.

Kevin: Yeah.

Mark: When you look at Drucker who is a management expert who I think was quite fond of JFK, but he said JFK achieved far less than Dwight Eisenhower, and also Roosevelt, who had the charisma and his words are “dead mackerel”, and yet they far out achieved what JFK did, even taking into account the fact that he was there for a shorter time.

Kevin: Tomorrow when we come back, Mark Oliver will be our guest again and we’re gonna talk about one of the big dilemmas in leadership, and that is all about change and how people are resistant to change. We’ll talk about that tomorrow. Mark, I’ll catch you then. Thanks mate.

Mark: Look forward to it Kevin. Cheers.

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