Charismatic Leader vs. High-Trust Leader

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Many times people say things and I’ll think, “YES! That’s what I’m thinking.”

During a Knowledge Project podcast, Jennifer Garvey Berger beautifully described the difference between a Charismatic Leader and a Great [High-Trust] Leader:

“…So much of leadership ability is about how other people experience themselves in
your presence. So, a great [High-Trust] leader has a presence that makes other people bigger.

I have a client who’s a chief executive of a big company. I was with him a couple of
weeks ago watching him as he met with people and as he had his meeting. The way
he speaks to people brings out their goodness.

  • You can see people actually grow in his presence.
  • They feel more comfortable to take risks.
  • They feel more comfortable to say a thing that maybe is controversial.
  • They have more room to play.
  • You can actually watch it physically happen in their bodies.
  • They stand a little straighter.
  • They look at him in the eye.
  • They smile.
  • They’ve got this resonance that I think a truly stupendous leader brings into the world. 

A charismatic leader, when he walks into the room or she walks into the room, makes you feel good about her or him. I walk into the room and I’m a charismatic leader and you think, “Wow!” and you think about that person.

A great [High-Trust] leader, I think—that great leader walks into the room and you feel bigger. You don’t think, “Wow! What a great leader.” You think, “Wow! I’m willing to say this thing. I feel more comfortable on my own skin. I’m just having ideas I haven’t had before.”

A great [High-Trust] leader makes other people better.

I think that’s the fundamental difference between the charismatic, heroic image of
leadership, that has been a help for us and also a hindrance for us as a human right
for a long time, and the kind of leadership that we need now, the kind of leadership
that the world is calling for from us now, which is not about having one person and
following that one person, but having someone who can create the conditions that
make us all better—make us all bigger, smarter, more creative, more moral, just

Be a High-Trust Leader: The world is calling for you now. It’s about making everyone on your team bigger, smarter, more creative, more moral, and simply just better.

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