Resist The Charms Of Charismatic Leaders By Focusing On Context

We naturally find charming and well-spoken people more compelling than those lacking such characteristics. This is usually not a problem, until those with the gift of the gab (and good genetics) use their skills for nefarious purposes. So, how can you make sure you don't get hoodwinked by a good set of teeth or a piercing gaze?

Image by Gage Skidmore / Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

According to author and Strategic Performance Solutions Inc. co-founder Karissa Thacker, the key is context... and to fight the urge to get swept away, as it were:

First, stop just listening to what leaders say in isolation. Charisma often makes it easy for us to be captivated by someone's message at the expense of the surrounding context and other factors. Instead, make a conscious effort to observe the dynamics of the team or teams surrounding the charismatic leader you're tuned into.

She also points out that a leader relying on sheer personality will have more of a "good guys / bad guys" mentality, among other negative traits:

Collectivist leaders talk more in terms of challenges, opportunities and reaching potential, whereas self-interested leaders focus on competitors and villianising the opposition. Both types pay careful attention to the competitive landscape, though, so listen for leaders who spend more time attacking others than they do articulating possibilities.

How To Avoid Being Subtly Manipulated By Charismatic People [Fast Company]


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