Trying to become a better leader by studying the characteristics of great leaders is futile; it is followers, through their choices and hard work, who decide who leads and how great the leader will be, according to Emmanuel Gobillot in his book Follow the Leader: The One Thing Great Leaders Have That Great Followers Want. The person who holds a position of power is not actually leading until he or she can inspire followers to exercise their discretionary efforts on behalf of the cause.
This is an interesting premise, but does a book focusing on what followers want in a leader really contain anything different from a book focusing on the characteristics of great leaders? In my view this book does bring a fresh and different approach to the discussion of leadership. Whereas many other books treat charisma as an undefinable quality which is best passed over in favour of considering other easier-to-define leadership qualities and actions, this book concentrates on charisma as the one thing that matters.
Followers, when deciding whether to exercise their discretionary efforts in following a leader, use “emotional logic” which depends upon the leader’s charisma. Charisma, according to the author, has a values dimension, a character dimension, and an achievement dimension. The values dimension is underpinned by compassion and hope. The character dimension is made up of asperity, rhetoric, integrity and simplicity. The achievement dimension is underpinned by measurements and action. Thus there are eight elements of charisma, and conveniently or awkwardly, depending on your take, these elements combine to form the acronym CHARISMA.
There may be some room for debating the exact ingredients of leadership charisma, but in my opinion the author has made a valuable contribution to the field in this book, which is an easy and enjoyable read.