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An informal, stream-of-consciousness reflection on business ideas, events and issues in modern business, modern life and with some specifics to the web-software industry by Paul Tomori, Internet Entrepreneur

Charisma is Over-Rated
In quietness and confidence... shall be your strength.

By Paul Tomori
Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 17:22:53 (EST)

I am not often one to quote the Bible these days, but I saw that sub-title on a shirt today and couldn't resist seeing the tie-in with a thought that has been running through my brain in recent weeks: charisma tends to be a whole lotta feathers and not much chicken. Which of course I state in the context of business. Let's face it, if your goal is to be the next American Idol, then charisma will be an inherent necessity.

So, here's what I mean... In the context of business, is it not true that the geeks tend to rule the roost? From Alfred P. Sloan to Andy Grove... to Bill Gates... these guys, while entertaining in their own right, don't really captivate with their charismatic charms.

In fact, I think that larger-than-life personality, at the head of an enterprise can often be a major distraction from core purposes and core values and team-building. In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins describes the typical leader of truly great companies as being quietly but steadfastly in pursuit of their audacious business goals. They don't alienate their team by standing apart and blah-blah-blabbing about what they are going to do - they simply set their course and then quietly get to work. By contrast, companies with bold, outspoken leaders often get lots of TV time, but their companies are constantly course-correcting, their teams are constantly switching gears, their goals and values change with the wind and ultimately, they don't end up running truly great companies. Not to mention, companies with such leaders may enjoy short-term success from all the attention their charismatic leader brings, but then fade off the radar as soon as he/she leaves or dies. Nice legacy.

Of course, there are always exceptions... Perhaps Donald Trump? His companies are mostly (or perhaps completely) privately held, so it's hard to position him against the likes of General Electric or IBM. Either way, I think he tends to be a whole lotta sizzle and not much steak... just on the surface... as a strategic play. It distracts his competitors for him to wear his intentions on his sleeve, while in the background, he hammers away at his next new development. But, let's not worry about the exceptions like Mr. Trump... Let's focus on the other 98% of companies. You don't have to be charismatic to have audacious goals... and in fact, it probably will hurt you to be so.

So, I guess the thought of the day is... do you want to be a personality with lots of attention for your grandiose notions of what your business is "going" to do? Or do you want to just get the job done and perhaps be celebrated after the fact?

My only concern is: how am I going to dispense with all of my overflowing charisma in order to live up to this new conclusion? :-)

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