By Chet Yarbrough
By Olivia Fox Cabane
Narrated by Lisa Cordileione
Olivia Fox Cabane is a management consultant, a sketchy profession that is loved, hated, and feared by organizations. The profession is loved because it offers opportunity for objective assessment of management strengths and weaknesses. An outside consultant offers newly hired leaders an expedited assessment of an organization’s management quality. It is hated because expense is often greater than benefit. Internal organization leaders abdicate part of their responsibility by hiring outside consultants.
Consultants have no skin in the game. Consultants make recommendations and then leave. They leave uncertainty in their wake because managers fear losing their jobs based on outsider assessment.
However, Cabane’s book, “The Charisma Myth” is a refreshing and encouraging dissection of the best that consultants can offer struggling managers. Though considerably more squishy than consulting work done by management development gurus like Peter Drucker, Cabane is a life line to struggling managers that underestimate and under-utilize their innate abilities.
“The Charisma Myth” will help corporate moguls, teachers, and other leaders with presence and power over others, to understand their responsibility for developing themselves and future managers. Contrary to the full title of the book, this is about leadership and management development more than charisma or magnetism.
The best and worst leaders and managers may have charisma with the best leading to good and the worst leading to bad results.
Cabane defines charisma and explains how everyone can acquire it with practice. In 13 chapters, Cabane draws on her personal experience, sociological studies, and statistical analysis to reveal how a manager of people becomes both a charismatic leader and effective manager. Though Cabane draws on many erudite sources of information, her book is like having a conversation with a good friend that knows what they are talking about.
Cabane suggests good leaders and managers exhibit three characteristics—presence, power, and warmth. She proceeds to show how each of those characteristics can be learned and practiced. Cabane explains how to focus on being in the right place, being in the moment, and truly listening to feedback from other’s verbal communication, body language, and expression.
Cabane acknowledges position carries presence and power but being a teacher in front of a class or a CEO at the head of a table is only one factor of an unbalanced equation. Presence comes from showing up as a forthright and properly attired leader/manager and power will (at least in the short-term) accompany assigned title, but it is practiced relaxation, speech rhythm, and attention to others as a communicator that creates charisma. Warmth is generated by eye contact, expression, and empathetic understanding of those with which one communicates. To complete a charismatic equation one must have presence and power balanced by warmth.
Cabane avoids clichés and speaks directly and clearly to all human beings that wish to be leaders and/or good managers.