Forget Charisma – You Need to Master Your 'Microskills'

Forget Charisma – You Need to Master Your 'Microskills'
From Recruiter - October 19, 2016

When we picture leadersthe real movers and shakers of the world, whether they be political figures, lauded innovators, or even a great teacher you had in schoolwe tend to think of them as larger-than-life personageswhose charisma and sheer brilliance allowed them to make massive strides in their fields.

But according to Samuel Bacharach, cofounder and director of program development at the SoHo-based leadership consultancy Bacharach Leadership Group (BLG), thats all bunk.

You can haveall the talent in the world, all the charisma, whateverit wont do you any good if you cant actually move youragenda forward, Bacharach says. All the good ideas you haveunless you have some of the fundamental micropolitical competencies you need to move the agenda, it doesnt matter.

Bacharachs not just preaching to the next Steve Jobs orMartin Luther King, Jr., of the world. No matter who you are or what you do, you have an agenda to move if you want to be successful. Job seekers need jobsthats an agenda. Recruiters need talent yes, thats an agenda. No one is exempt from Bacharachs mandate to learn micropolitical competenciesor microskills, as they are called in BLGs new book, The Agenda Mover: When Your Good Idea Is Not Enough.

As the title suggests, The Agenda Moveris an in-depth look at how to turn an idea into reality by taking a series of specificactions to mobilize support, get buy-in, and sustain the agendas success. These actions are not grounded in charisma or other such near-supernatural inherent traits. Rather, these are small skills that anyone can learn how to do.

As Bacharach puts it, [The book] tells you how to get stuff done in spite of who you are, not because of who you are.

The Charisma Problem

While pop culture tends to celebrate charismatic individuals, Bacharach finds charisma to be a discriminatory and limiting notion, one that forecloses success for the vast majority of people.

You cant simply rely on your charm. If you rely on your charm, most of us will not be allowed to play, Bacharach says. Most of us are not going to be given a chance. Well be dismissed because of how we look, how we speak. The whole idea of charismait means a lot of people are being excluded from the game.

In part, thats because our beliefs aboutwhat it means to be charismatic are largely shapedby media portrayals, whichsuggest that only people who lay claim to avery narrow set of characteristics are charismatic.

Our notion of charismatic is very much dictated by what we see in the movies, Bacharach says. [It's dictated by] who gives the grandiose speech, how people dress, how they come off, who is cool, and who is not cool.

Furthermore, our cultural focus on charisma means we often fail toaccurately assess how revered leaders actually arrived at their major successes. For example, Steve Jobs is regularlyportrayed as a visionary genius, but thats hardly the full story of his ascent. AsThe Agenda Mover points out, Jobs was successful because he was proactive and pragmatic in pushing his ideas. His charisma shaped who he was but was not essential to his program.

Bacharach also says that charisma is problematic because it is very gender-specific. We tend to only think of male figures as being charismatic.

If you ask your readers to name five charismatic people, theyre probably going to name four or five malesand theyre going to name people who arent anything like most of us, Bacharach says.


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