Authenticity vs. Charisma

If it came down to a choice between authenticity or charisma, what would you pick?

While being charismatic and dynamic are wonderful traits, being authentic is being precisely what the world perceives us to be. We can’t fool people. They can see us coming a mile away.

charismaBecause all things begin with trust. When clients trust you, you can chart a course together for a better future. Trust leads to reason. Wishing something so didn’t make it so. So you have to work diligently at developing your critical thinking skills.

Reason leads to focus. Focus is as important as intelligence, and the one choice you consistently make is whether you choose to be focused. Focus then leads to value, which is measured by the size of problems you can solve, and not by how much you get paid (although often the two are related). Value then leads to success, and success can lead to significance. Success is secular, and significance is spiritual, just as happiness is transient, but joy is lasting. The significance is influenced by passion, and passion is the result of purpose.

The significance is influenced by passion, and passion is the result of purpose. Being leads to doing. It’s not I do and therefore I am; It’s I am, and therefore I do. Sounds heavy, but really it is a basic understanding about life and living and how work fits into all that.

Authenticity invites inner peace, which leads to balance. Authentic leaders aren’t interested only in the fame or the money they gather, but genuinely desire to serve others through their leadership.  Their interest lies in empowering the people they lead so that they can uplift their lives somehow.  They are as guided by passion and compassion as they are of intellect and communication.

Conversely, some charismatic leaders – the most infamous examples being Adolph Hitler, Mussolini and, more recently, Saddam Hussein – are more driven by their megalomania or hunger for expression. Cults and gurus use guilt and fear to secure power over people and gain emotional control over their followers. People become too frightened or paranoid to leave these groups, which have often blinded them to reality until it is too late.

Authentic leaders know their strengths and weaknesses and are not afraid, to be honest about both sides of their personalities.

But charismatic leaders seek to hide their weaknesses behind their darker side.

If you look back on your life, you’ll probably find that the teachers who made school life more meaningful for you weren’t necessarily the most knowledgeable instructors, but they were authentic people. They imparted a full sense of themselves and were able to transmit a complete idea of humanity that made you want to be real and authentic too.

Authentic Leaders embody the values they advocate, and can model the new way of doing In the early 1960s when Warren Buffett was recruiting backers for one of his first investment partnerships, he plunged more than 90% of his personal savings into the fund.

When Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) faced a recession in 1970, co-founder Bill Hewlett took the same 10% pay cut as the rest of his employees.

During the early years at Charles Schwab (SCHW), whenever the customer-service phone lines got really busy, founder “Chuck” Schwab dropped everything and answered calls along with everyone else at the company who had a stock broker’s license.

Whenever Wal-Mart founder (WMT) Sam Walton travelled on business, he rented the same compact economy cars and stayed in the same inexpensive hotels as his employee

But the problem is that real transformational leaders are difficult to find. After they have reached satisfactory levels of power and influence, most leaders seem to lose their instincts to question and fire up people with principles and values. They don’t really like the thought of risking their own stock options with major changes that the company may need. Is it understandable that seasoned directors, only a few years from retirement, will not be willing to take the same risks that got them their prominent positions in the first place?

If you want to be engaged in a more meaningful life, you have to transform your life by renewing your mind and linking to purpose. Authenticity linked to purpose creates synergy and meaning. On the other hand, Charisma, if it is charm without substance, can be problematic.

When you practice authenticity in the family it is much more stable, happy, and balanced. The focus is on how you can support each other. There is no energy drain brought on by negativity and defence.

Authentic living means you are living in tune with your calling and your purpose. It means going to the source. It means no more lying to oneself. It means facing the truth and being aware.

The whole world can think you are great, but if you do not feel that way from deep within, the world’s opinion means little. What counts is being true to your deeper self, not to others’ opinions about you.

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