Someone once said: “Brains, integrity and force may be all very well, but what you need today is charm.” This is the age of celebrity, even in the boardroom, and none of us is impervious to the presence of those legendary characters when they switch on the full blast of their glittering personality. Perhaps it is their reputation, perhaps their smile, perhaps their brilliance with words – or possibly their rapt attention.
I am often struck how often young children utter the phrase “Look at me!” They want appreciation, and fundamentally not much changes, even when we are 50. Genuine approval from the boss can taste better than anything – even a pay rise.
Are charm and a sense of humour acquired traits? They certainly improve with effort and practice. Ronald Reagan used his years in showbiz to hone his performance skills before succeeding in politics.
I have sat with stand-up comics before they go on stage. The most brilliant appear almost nonchalant, rather than rehearsed or anxious, and their acts are mostly learnt word-perfect yet appear spontaneous.
So it is with outstanding business leaders who persuade their teams to laugh and try harder: they apply themselves assiduously to the task. Most world-class chief executives possess charisma – really a captivating blend of charm and wit. And, believe me, they graft at it far more than they admit.