What Is Charisma? It’s a Myth. Here’s What You Really Need to Succeed

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Julia McCoy

Creator and Co-founder

the charisma myth

“Find the next Steve Jobs, and you’re golden.”

Ever hear that one before?

There’s a myth out there that the most profitable companies have charismatic leaders at their helms. It’s the only way to succeed, they say.

I used to believe it. When I escaped from a cult in the middle of the night at 21 years old, I wasn’t sure I’d make it. I thought I was missing traits like charisma, which would hold me back from long-term success.

Ten years later, I’ve broken free of that limiting belief. I’ve grown a digital business that thrives and provides over 100 jobs for others.

And you know what? I didn’t need charisma.

Today, I believe the thought that you have to have charisma in order to make it is a total myth. You absolutely CAN turn your dreams into a reality and live your most fulfilling life – no charisma needed.

Here’s why.

Here’s the Cold Truth: Charisma Isn’t Competence

In today’s video, I shared a few surprising statistics and studies around the effects of a charismatic CEO. Research literally shows that emphasizing charisma as a key trait of your public-facing leader can prove detrimental to your organization.

Why? The answer is simple: Charisma isn’t competence no matter how often it gets mistaken for it.

A study done by MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found that nearly half Germany’s winners of the title “Manager of the Year” were responsible for dramatic missteps.

That study prompted even deeper research, and MIT found in a study of 100-year-old European corporations, that leaders of the higher-performing companies were often not charismatic — and were, in fact, less likely to be charismatic than the leaders of the lower-performing companies.

The problem with charismatic leaders, revealed in these studies? They found that the gift of persuasion makes it easy for them to overcome resistance and opposition to their chosen course of action.

If your company is heading in the right direction, a charismatic leader will get you there faster. Unfortunately, if you’re heading in the wrong direction, charisma will also get you there faster.

Charisma is a MYTH!

Another study by HBR found out through experimentation that managers and leaders could adapt to make legitimate and creative change decisions that fueled the company forward. Yet, those changes weren’t brought about by charismatic speeches, or demonstrations of their leaders’ innate genius or passion.  Instead, it was an awareness of someone else’s unexpected decision to cut back on an old thing in order to do a new thing. 

So for example, after seeing the tech support rep reduce data security to increase supply chain efficiency, the manager in the group suddenly became aware of new possibilities for change in their own areas of work.

What they SAW created change…

Not an innate charismatic leadership capability.

A charismatic leader looks good. They’re energetic and persuasion comes easily to them. They may know how to put on a good show and talk a good talk. But at the end of the day, talk is not what creates success.

It’s a mistake that a lot of people make. And from nearly sinking multi-million-dollar projects to elaborate scams to fool the public, the results frequently prove disastrous.

The next time you find yourself sitting across from someone who seems just a little too polished, remember to pay attention to their actions, not their words.

the charisma myth

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What Do You Need Instead of Charisma?

Thinking I needed charisma was an incredibly limiting belief, which is why I made today’s video. If you think you’re not extroverted, eloquent or friendly enough to succeed, never fear. I’m about to cross ten years of entrepreneurship in my journey, and I’ve come to realize that you don’t need charisma to succeed.

What do you need? These three things.

1. Inspiration as Your Fuel

There’s a reason I lay out the four Ls pathway in Skip the Degree in the exact order that I do: You must absolutely LOVE what you’re doing. You must be inspired, fueled by your passion. When you are, it infuses everything you do with an energy that others will find irresistible.

And this isn’t just me giving you a feel-good spiel. Research by CB Insights shows that 9% of startups fail due to a lack of passion (another 8% fail from burnout).

But there’s another reason why you must demonstrate passion for what you do: If all you’ve got to show is a lackluster interest, nobody’s really going to believe that you’re putting forth your honest, authentic self.

In today’s environment, 86% of consumers expect a brand to demonstrate authenticity. It’s not enough to have a great product or service – you must also genuinely be passionate about what you do, and eager to share your vision with the world. That’s the only way they’re going to trust you.

Loving what you do helps keep you inspired even when your nose is to the grindstone and your head isn’t in the game. Speaking of which…

2. A Head for Strategy

Everyone says finding the next Steve Jobs is like searching for a needle in a haystack, but what if I told you finding a truly competent leader or partner is nearly as difficult?

According to McKinsey, only 20% of organizations truly excel at strategic decision making. Those that do report greater returns, faster and more frequently.

Inspiration must power you, but you also must take strategic steps forward. That means making smart moves every day that further your overall vision.

Fortunately, a head for strategy isn’t something you’re born with. You can develop it. Here’s how: Treat every day as if you’re there to LEARN how to do your job all over again. Don’t approach tasks as if they’re just one more thing to knock off your never-ending to do list.

Be inspired and ready to rediscover your passion every single day. Then, as they say, stay humble and hustle hard.

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3. A Commitment to Consistency

It’s going to get hard, but what we do when it gets tough is what defines us and our character.

Are you prepared to show up every day and LABOR?

Even when you don’t feel like it? Even when it feels like you’re getting nowhere?

If the answer to any of those is “no,” then your path up the mountain lies elsewhere. ⛰️

Don’t get me wrong – consistency is hard. But it’s often the difference between success and failure. That’s because, when you emphasize consistency, you gain:

  • A way to measure progress. You need a track record to establish a baseline before you can measure how far you’ve gone.
  • The foundation for accountability. Consistency promotes accountability by making clear your goals and the deliverables for which you’re responsible. You’ll know where you’re supposed to be every day and will have to answer – to yourself or your clients – if you aren’t there.
  • The ability to stay relevant. Consistent effort will force you to adapt and recalibrate as you struggle toward success. It means you’ll zip right ahead of someone who learned something once and never touched it again.
  • A means to build your reputation. The time you spend honing your skills gives you more than just sharp tools. It’s also the period where you’ll establish yourself as a serious practitioner in your industry or community before you LEVEL UP.

The Bottom Line: Charisma Is a Myth

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in the last ten years, it’s this: You don’t need to be the next charismatic visionary that sweeps the world off its feet.

You don’t need charisma. In fact, charisma can and does blind others to serious potential shortcomings capable of ruining dreams.

You’ve got plenty of strengths and talents (or you wouldn’t be here trying to figure out how to turn what you love into a living). ❤

Remember: Focus on action and the next step forward, and you’ll get so much more done than someone who’s only good at being charismatic.

Next, next step: build real content strategy and marketing skills. Build real business skills. Build your brand without burnout.

My mentorship program will show you how it’s done through every turn of the path. Let’s work on your brand together so we can get you to the impact you crave.

Apply today for the Content Transformation System.


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