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Vol. 6, No. 4
(626) 350-1500 Ext 102  

Extraordinary achievements demand extraordinary leaders.

© 2008 William A. Cohen, PhD

The Table of Contents for this Month’s Edition of the Journal of Leadership Applications

News for Leaders: Below

This Month’s Topic: 7 Actions to Develop Your Charisma

This Month’s Thought for Leaders: Below

Leadership Lessons from Last Month’s Book:  Cohesion

This Month’s Free Downloadable Book: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

News for Leaders

Want to Go to Yale — Free?  Yes, believe it or not famed Yale University is now offering free courses online. Right now only basic college courses are offered, but the future . . . who knows? You can get full information at .

A Class with Drucker to Appear in an Audio Version. I spent several days in a studio last week reading A Class with Drucker. After editing my sneezes and coughs (I was getting over a cold) it will be published in audio format. Look for an announcement, I’ll keep you informed when it is published and from where you can get a copy.  

Seminar on the Lost Lessons of Peter Drucker at the University of Rosario in Bogotá, Colombia. I will be giving a three-hour presentation of the Lost Lessons of Peter Drucker followed by an autograph signing of my book in Spanish at the University of Rosario, Bogotá, Colombia on April 10th. If you are in Colombia and are interested in attending, contact:

Luisa Fernanda Godoy I.

Asistente de Internacionalización

Facultad de Administración]

Universidad del Rosario

Tel 297 02 00 Ext 623.


Book Reviews of A Class with Drucker.  As promised I am posting all book reviews available — good, bad, and indifferent — as received. If you see one not posted, please send it and I will include it. Just click Drucker Book Reviews.


by William A. Cohen, PhD

As I write these words former Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson has just endorsed Senator Barack Obama  as Democratic candidate for President of the United States over Obama’s Democratic rival, Senator Hillary Clinton. This endorsement was significant and unexpected for a number of reasons. First, Richardson was a long time friend and political ally of the Clintons. Many say that Bill Clinton had “made” Richardson, appointing him to important positions when Clinton was President including U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and U.S. Secretary of Energy. Also, Hillary Clinton had openly sought Richardson’s endorsement for her own presidential candidacy. It was even said that if Hillary Clinton were to become the Democratic candidate, she would pick Bill Richardson as her running mate for vice president. It was an important endorsement. As the only Hispanic Governor, Bill Richardson could sway a significant Hispanic vote in both the primary and general elections. Despite this, Richardson gave his endorsement to Obama. “Obama has something special,” said Governor Richardson, “and I want to be part of it.”

For months reports in the media noted that the crowds in Obama’s audiences for his speeches rivaled that of a Rock Star rather than that of a political candidate. Some even said that Rock Stars would be overjoyed to have crowds like Obama’s. For some time political analysts from both parties have agreed that Obama does have something special, and they spelled it out. Barack Obama has charisma, and for or against him, few would argue that point or deny that this charisma has been a tremendous assist in his campaign.

What is charisma? Charisma comes from a Greek word meaning a divine gift. This implies that it is something that you are given. The further implication is that this is done at birth. Napoleon Bonaparte didn’t see it that way. He said: “My power is dependent upon my glory, and my glory on my victories. My power would fall if I did not base it on still more glory and still more victories. Conquest made me what I am; conquest alone can keep me there.”1

What Napoleon was saying is that his being perceived as a charismatic leader, was based on his success. To maintain his charisma, he had to keep being successful. There is some truth in this. Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus, two researchers from the University of Southern California did find that successful leaders tend to be viewed as charismatic.

This says that if you want to be a charismatic leader, you must first become a successful one. This may contain an element of truth, but I’ve known individuals who may have been on their way to success, but were not yet successful. Still, they were perceived as charismatic. What if you don’t want to wait until after you are successful to be a charismatic leader? There is no question in my mind that being charismatic can help you to be a successful leader.


The Charismatic Leader

Some years ago, I was fortunate in being selected to attend the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C..The Industrial College of the Armed Forces trains selected senior military and civilian officials destined for positions of high trust and leadership in the federal government.

Prior to a student beginning his or her studies at the National Defense University, detailed leadership evaluation surveys are sent to a number of the student’s subordinates, superiors, and colleagues. All three categories of respondents complete these surveys anonymously. Each survey contains 125 questions in 21 major areas having to do with the student’s leadership abilities, attributes, and characteristics. Those selected as students for National Defense University are already proven leaders. As you might expect, these leadership evaluations are generally pretty favorable. In the year I was at National Defense University, the scores for 995 questionnaires for 115 students at the university averaged above 4.00 out of 5.00 for all characteristics measured.

The expected average for a population of leaders is 3.0. Thus above 4.00  means that those surveyed thought that these leaders demonstrated every single one of 21 major areas of leadership fairly often. This is much better than the average leader. The average in the “charisma” area for the 115 students was 4.32. That’s an amazingly high score. But one individual’s score was off the chart. Every single one of his subordinates had scored him in this leadership area as a perfect 5.00! Translated, it said that every single subordinate felt that this leader demonstrated charisma frequently, if not always.

Eagerly, I sought this individual out to discover the secrets of his unusual evaluation in this mysterious quality. I found an average looking man of average height. If you had met him and did not know of his charisma score, you would not have suspected him of anything special. Yet as famed social scientist Max Weber wrote, “Men do not obey him by virtue of tradition or statute, but because they believe in him.”2

What was his secret? He maintained that a great deal of his success as a leader was due to his being perceived as charismatic. Another words, it wasn’t that he was successful as a leader first. He did agree that once he was successful, being perceived as charismatic was a lot easier. However, according to this man, he became successful as a leader partially because he was charismatic. More importantly, his charisma was not accidental. He intentionally set out to develop it. Further, he took definite actions to develop his charisma again in every new group that he led.

Dr. Ronald Riaggo, a social psychologist who is director of the Kraviss Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College has developed  his own methodology for  creating charisma. Dr. Riaggio says, “But charisma is not something that is given to a person. It is not an inherited or inborn quality. Charisma is something that develops over time. More importantly, each and every one of us has the capacity to develop our own charisma.3

To develop his charisma, the proven charismatic at National Defense University told me that he took seven different actions. Over the years, I observed that others with charisma take similar actions. If you want to develop your charisma, here are the seven actions that they took and that you can take to develop your charisma too:

1.      Show your commitment.

2.      Look the part.

3.      Dream big.

4.      Keep moving toward your goals.

5.      Do your homework.

6.      Build a mystique.

7.      Use the indirect approach.

Let’s see what each action entails.


Show Your Commitment

If you want to be perceived as charismatic, it’s not enough to be committed to whatever it is you are trying to accomplish. You must show your commitment to those you lead. Several historical military leaders have burned their boats after landing for an assault from the sea. Usually their biographers indicate this is done to give their followers “no alternative.” The apparent message is that they must win, since they can no longer return to the sea. I do not think this is the main reason for this action. The attacking troops could still surrender if they wished. I think the real reason that these leaders burned their boats is that it was an extremely effective method of demonstrating the leader’s own commitment to the goal or objective.

There are many ways to demonstrate commitment. These include being persistent in the pursuit of a goal, going to extraordinary lengths, self-sacrifice, risk taking, and the expenditure of personal resources. Do you perceive the founding fathers of our country to be charismatic? They demonstrated commitment in all of these areas. They committed their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” to the goals of the group.


How Demonstrated Commitment Helped Made A Man A Millionaire

Joe Cossman died several years ago as a multimillionaire. I had the good fortune to meet him and he and I actually wrote a book together. I like to tell his story again and again because there are many lessons in it for leaders. Joe died a millionaire many times over, but he was born dirt poor.

After service during World War II, Joe got a job in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania working for an export company.  Not being a college graduate or having any special skills, he earned the princely sum of $35 a week. After supper every night, he wrote letters from his kitchen table to contacts he had made around the world. He wanted desperately to export products on his own. He spent more than a year writing hundreds of letters, following false leads that went nowhere, and giving up all his free time to this activity. Remember, this kind of persistence demonstrates commitment.

One day he saw a small ad in The New York Times advertising cases of laundry soap, which at that time was scarce. He confirmed the availability of the soap by telephone, and send letters to his contacts abroad. Several weeks later, he was notified that his bank had received a letter of credit for $ 180,000. That corresponds to about $1.8 million today. This letter of credit meant that he would receive the $ 180,000 when he produced bills of lading that the soap had been loaded on board the ship. The letter of credit gave him thirty days to do this. If he failed to supply bills of lading within thirty days, the letter of credit would be worthless.

Joe’s soap wholesaler informed him that he had the soap in New York City. All Joe had to do was to get to New York to make the financial and shipping arrangements. Joe approached his boss and asked for several weeks leave of absence from the job. His boss refused. Joe than went around Pittsburgh and offered friends 50% of the deal to anyone who would go to New York City to put the deal together. No one was willing to accept Joe’s offer.

In desperation, Joe approached his boss again. If he couldn’t get the time off, he would quit. His boss saw Joe’s commitment and gave in. Joe and his wife had a total of $300 savings in the bank. But Joe’s wife knew his commitment also. She had faith in him. They took the $ 300 out of the bank and Joe headed for New York City. After checking into his hotel, Joe again called his soap wholesaler. The number had been disconnected, and the “wholesaler” was no where to be found. But Joe was still fully committed.

He went to the library and found lists of soap companies in the Thomas Register of Manufacturers. Returning to his hotel room, he began calling soap companies all over the United States. But there was a telephone strike! It took him a long time just to get an operator. Through the strength of his commitment, he convinced her to stay on the line while he made all of his calls. After running up a phone bill of more than eight hundred dollars, he located a company in Alabama that had the soap. But he would have to come to Alabama to pick it up.

Joe searched all over New York for a trucking company that would go with him to get 3000 cases of soap, and do so on credit. At this point, he began to have another problem. Much of the thirty days had gone by. Could Joe bring the soap to New York in time?          Joe continued to demonstrate strong commitment to his goals. Those who leant him money would have said that there was just something about him that led them to believe that he was going to succeed.

He got the soap to New York City with less than a day to load the soap on the ship. The unions weren’t as strict in those days, and Joe himself helped load the soap. They worked all night. By noon the following day, it was clear that they weren’t going to make it by the time the bank closed. With less than an hour before closing time, Joe abandoned the loading dock to look for the office of the president of the steamship line. As Joe told me, “I hadn’t bathed in more than a week. I hadn’t slept all night because of helping to load the soap. I was unshaven and had been borrowing small change from the truck drivers for lunch. The soap company was after me for the money for the soap, the trucking company for the money I owed them. The hotel didn’t know where I was, and they wanted their money too. Even my wife didn’t know my whereabouts. I looked and felt like I could use a case of that soap, myself.”

In this condition he barged into the office of the president of the steamship line and told him the whole story. The president looked Joe straight in the eye. Joe’s commitment must come through. “Cossman,” he said, “if you’ve gone this far, you’re not going to lose the deal now.” So saying, he gave Joe bills of lading, even though the soap was not fully loaded. This meant that his company assumed the risk of loss for the soap until the loading was complete. He also had his personal limousine take Joe to the bank.

On this first successful business deal, Joe made a profit of $ 30,000. That’s not bad for a man that had been making $ 35 a week. Again, multiply this times ten and you’ll have a rough estimate of how much this was in today’s dollars.

How was Joe able to lead and successfully influence everyone that he came in contact with on this business deal? Joe was committed. His commitment was compelling. To others, his commitment was seen as that certain something we call charisma.


You Can’t Show Commitment If It Isn’t For Real

It’s hard to show commitment if you really aren’t committed. In fact it’s impossible, because those you want to lead will see right through you. Commitment is something that can’t be faked. Dr. Tony Alessandra, a top business expert who has made presentations before some of America’s top corporations asks, “What do you feel passionately about? What do you care really deeply about? Whatever your objective – whether it’s ending world hunger or ensuring better care for stray animals – you’ll never influence anyone to change their ideas or take action if you don’t feel strongly about it yourself.” But if your commitment is real, listen to Roger Ailes. He’s a top media consultant who has consulted for a number of CEOs and political campaigns says: “The essence of charisma is showing your commitment to an idea or goal.”5 If you want to be perceived as charismatic, think of ways to show your commitment.

Look the Part

Some years ago, a man did serious research on the effect of what you wear and success on the job. The results were so astounding, that his book, Dress for Success6 became a nationwide best seller. John T. Molloy’s research demonstrated conclusively that what you wear is important in becoming successful in what you do. For most jobs in the United States, Molloy’s advice can be extremely valuable.

However, you should know that what kind of leader you are and who you are leading can call for different types of dress for maximum effectiveness. You wouldn’t be perceived as much of a charismatic leader if you tried to lead ranch hands in a business suit. In some countries even businessmen or women do not dress in the way businesspeople dress in the United States. Also, the way you dress should be carefully built around the particular image of the kind of leader you represent.

The military has recognized this for a long time. When permitted, generals have designed their own uniforms for the image of themselves they wish to portray. Field Marshal Montgomery was known for his special beret on which he had fixed the emblems of the major units that he commanded. He also made a pullover sweater a part of his uniform. He effected a casual image, even in the heat of battle. When soldiers saw someone wearing a multi-emblemed beret and casual sweater they instantly knew it was their commander. U.S. General George Patton also strongly believed in “looking the part.” His special uniform consisted of a shiny helmet, pistols on both hips, and a knotted tie, even in combat! Few of his soldiers could mistake him either. General Eisenhower invented the special short military jacket that he wore. Eventually the entire United States Army adopted it. They called it the “Ike Jacket.” MacArthur effected a different image. He started wearing a special uniform even as a young colonel in combat during World War I. He refused to wear a helmet or carry a sidearm. He stated his reasoning as: “A helmet hurts my head, and decreases my effectiveness as a leader. I don’t carry a sidearm because it is not my business to fight, but to direct others in fighting.  During World War II his sometimes tieless khaki shirt, leather jacket, gold braided hat, corn cob pipe and sun glasses became famous and a symbol of the MacArthur mystique and charisma.

Many other military leaders have looked the part by their dress. Some have worn standard uniforms, but had them tailored and made of better material than the standard. Some commanders carry a “swagger stick.” This is a sort of short cane like affair that could be described as the American version of a marshal’s baton. General Matthew Ridgway, commander in Korea after MacArthur always wore grenades over his winter greatcoat. Brigadier General Robin Olds F-4 commander and ace in Vietnam wore a non-regulation oversized mustache. His pilots loved him for it. General H. Norman Schwarzkopf wore the desert battle dress he wore in the Middle East even after his return to the States after the war. That uniform was part of his charm and his charisma. When my classmate Colonel “Tex” Turner was Director of Military Instruction at West Point, he wore camouflaged battle dress even in the classroom environment. Tex, who formerly commanded the U.S. Army’s Ranger School is a tiger leader, and he makes sure that he looks the part. The Cadets feel that Tex can walk on water. When General Alfred M. Gray was Commandant of the Marine Corps, he also wore camouflaged battle dress . . . even in the Pentagon. To my knowledge, he is the only one of the Chiefs-of Staff ever to have done so. But you couldn’t miss him when you saw that uniform. It said, “I am a warrior, and my Service is a fighting outfit.” You don’t need to wear battle dress. But if you want to appear charismatic, you must take the time to define the image of your type of leader, and then dress that way. Two hundred years ago, Joseph Joubert said:” A well-dressed soldier has more respect for himself. He also appears more redoubtable to the enemy and dominates him; for a good appearance is itself a force.”

When I was promoted to become a general officer, and attended the orientation course called “charm school” by all, one senior general told us. “Remember, even when you are wearing civilian clothes – dress like a general.” That’s good advice for all of us, regardless of what profession or occupation we may be in. Dressing “like a general” means dressing like a professional of our profession, whatever it may be.


Dream Big

You can achieve in life no higher than you expect to achieve. It is the same in setting goals for others or for a group. There is one additional important thing you should know. No one wants to work hard or make sacrifices for small goals. And why should they? They can reach small goals any day by themselves. They don’t need you. Accomplishing them means nothing. They aren’t exciting. They give no great feeling of accomplishment when achieved. But if you show those you lead difficult goals, big tasks, and truly worthwhile missions, people will sacrifice everything in order to help you achieve them.

Psychologist Dr. Charles Garfield observed an extraordinary leap in performance among engineers, workers, and production people in a major aerospace corporation that was building the Lunar Excursion Module for Apollo 11. “Every week, I heard stories about people who were lifting their performance to levels that none of them would have predicted a few months before,” he said.7  This continued during the entire period of preparing for the moon mission. Than on July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. It was over. People’s performance returned to their normal average level. “They had risen to a peak; then they had fallen back to earth,” said Garfield.8

To maintain performance, the leaders of this organization should have immediately gone on to the next big dream. For as long as you ask for really big things, nothing is impossible.


How Dr. Robert Schuller Built the $20 Million Crystal Cathedral When All He Had Was $500.

Have you heard of Dr. Robert H. Schuller? Dr. Schuller is a minister. He is also the author of more than twenty books, many cassette tapes, and has his own television show. He came to California with no congregation and only $ 500. Twenty-five years later he built the $ 20 million Crystal Cathedral which seats thousands. Millions listen to his sermons every week. How did he build a $20 million cathedral when all he had was $25? Dr. Schuller preaches what he calls “possibility thinking.” He says emphatically that you can accomplish the impossible. According to Dr. Schuller, it’s only a matter of finding the right person to help you. People will help you to reach goals that are impossible. In fact, they will give you their blood, sweat, and tears, as Winston Churchill demanded if your goal is big enough.


What Kind Of Goals Are Possible?

What kind of goal are possible? They can be anything, so long as they are big and worthwhile. In his book Battle Cry, Leon Uris wrote a fictionalized account of Uris’ own experiences as a Marine during World War II. His hero, Lt. Colonel “High Pockets” Huxley marches his battalion on a grueling twelve hour march to set a divisional training record. With difficulty, bruises and bleeding feet, they make it and set the record. Then instead of taking trucks back to camp as did the other battalions, Huxley orders a few hours rest and than a return march back. His men come near to collapse. But as they rest at the side of the road, they see the other Marine units returning to camp by truck after their treks.  That they are being made to do something big and difficult inspires Huxley’s battalion for one final effort. They make it back to camp and beat their own record going the other way when they were fresh and rested at the same time.

At the Battle of the Bulge, the 101st Airborne Division was cut off and surrounded by superior numbers of attacking German units. Who would come to the rescue? General Patton announced that he would disengage from the enemy on one front, march a hundred miles, and be in action with three divisions within forty-eight hours. Patton knew that if he demanded the just barely possible, if it was a really important, tough job, his men would come through.

If you want to have big dreams, you need only recall the words from the song “High Hopes” sung by Frank Sinatra. They go something like this: “You may not think that an ant can’t do much with a rubber tree plant, but if he has high hopes then: Whoops! There goes another rubber tree plant!”

Motivational speaker Tony Robbins has changed the lives of millions of people. He has worked with many heads of state, including the President of the United States. As a motivational speaker, Michael Jeffreys, who wrote the bible on the subject says, “Many people in the United States feel that Anthony Robbins is the most dynamic, most charismatic speaker on the platform today.”9 Yet, Robbins is only a high school graduate and has never been to college. What’s his secret? I’ll let Tony Robbins tell you himself. “For most of my life I’ve had a sense of destiny. I can remember at seven years old having images in my mind of reaching mass numbers of people and making a huge difference.”10

Have big dreams and foster high hopes among those you lead and your charisma will never be in doubt.


Keep Moving Towards Your Goals

Having big dreams and goals is important. But you can’t let it rest at that. You must actually keep moving towards the tough goals that you have set. Remember, you are the leader. People don’t move until you move first. But when you do move toward a big dream, it will have a marvelous effect on those you lead. Your backers will be pleased. “What did we tell you,” they’ll say to others. Than there will be those that were on the fence. They supported you, but they could have gone either way. “We knew he could do it all the time,” they’ll say. Than there are those who were against whatever it was your big dream is. They said that it couldn’t be done. They won’t say much. They’ll only mutter, “Well I’ll be damned.” And your charisma will increase among all concerned.

Moving towards your goals is tougher than just setting the goal, but it isn’t all that hard. First, it means that you have to have a plan. Then you set a number of intermediate goals. Dr. Schuller didn’t start out right away building the Crystal Cathedral. He set his overall goal. Than he accomplished a number of intermediate objectives. Every big goal has a number of smaller intermediate objectives that are accomplished first. And every objective has a number of tasks.

To show movement towards the big goal, know what the intermediate objectives and the tasks are, and make certain those you lead know as well. Assign each task to a specific individual along with a time when you expect that task to be accomplished. Then, check periodically to see what’s happening. Publicize every success, every movement toward your big goal. When those you lead run into problems, give them the help that they need in order to proceed. But never stop. Whatever your goal is, maintain progress toward it. Then, like Joe Cossman, few can resist your charisma, and those you lead will be commenting on it too.


Do Your Homework

Have you ever watched gymnastics on television during an Olympic competition? Incredible wasn’t it? Many of the performances seem flawless. Even more amazingly, in many cases it appears to take no effort at all to do something you or I couldn’t have done in “a million years.” The fact is, however, that those we watched turn in such marvelous performances are made up of the same stuff as you and me. When they first started out, they couldn’t do any of those things either. It would have been beyond their wildest dreams. Yet, there they were doing incredible things and winning well-earned medals for their accomplishments. How do I know this? Because it happened to me, and I know the secret first hand.

When I was a boy I had recurrent rheumatic fever. As a result, as I grew up, I couldn’t participate in sports. I was generally weak. At age 15, I knew that I had to get strong if I was ever to get to West Point. West Point required a minimum of six pull-ups. I couldn’t do a single one. Over the next two years, I worked hard to prepare myself. The result was that I overcompensated. When I took the test at age 17, I did 15 pull-ups.

When I got to West Point, all New Cadets who had demonstrated more than average upper body strength were screened for the gymnastics team. The reason was that very few Army gymnasts had previous experience with the sport before coming to West Point. The gym team needed whoever it could get. I managed to make the team as a rope climber. Rope was a very simplistic event. You sat on the floor with your arms stretched above your head and your hands clenching the rope. When you felt ready, you exploded off the floor and climbed handed over hand, without the use of your legs, since they would only slow you down. At the top of the rope, twenty feet off the ground, was a circular pan coated with charcoal. You reached out with one hand and made a swoop at the pan. The pan was coat with a black charcoal like material. So as if you successfully touched it, you got a little of this charcoal on your fingers. You were timed by three timers from the time you left the ground until you touched the pan.

An acceptable time for completing the climb I described was something under four seconds. The best time I could manage my first year was about six seconds. That was not very good, but it was the best I could do. But every day I did my homework. This consisted of climbing the ropes again and again while wearing weight belts weighing about twenty pounds. I have never seen such a direct relationship between work and progress. So week by week, I could see my time getting just a little bit better. At the end of my first year, someone jokingly asked me if I was going to set a record. By than I knew that the secret of improvement was all in the practice. I answered that I would, but not until my last year. I thought it would take me that long.

Three years later, I did this, climbing 3.35 seconds. Unfortunately it wasn’t an official record as the NCAA rules were that to set a new record you had to beat the previous record by at least .1 of a second. So officially I only tied the old record at 3.4 seconds. However, I knew what I had done. To Further, climbing during my last year and my first was a world of difference. I could climb twenty feet on a rope repeatedly in less than four seconds and not even get winded. It felt like no muscular effort at all. The feeling was that of a balloon carrying me upward. People who watched me said I climbed “effortlessly.” What made the difference between a record climb and just a good climb was only how fast I could move my arms without a hand missing its grasp for the rope. It was always exactly eight strides and a lunge with my free hand reaching for the charcoal coated pan. The secret between my early poor performance and my later outstanding performance was simply one thing: homework.

It is the same thing with charismatic leadership. Those that see you perform see only the effort you make on the spot. They don’t see the hours and hours of homework that you put in. Yet, if you do something difficult apparently without effort, you will be perceived as charismatic. Doing your homework can make your reputation for a lifetime as a charismatic leader. At the Battle of Chippewa during the War of 1812, British General Phineas Riall attacked the American defenders with 1700 regulars and about 700 Indians and Canadian militia. He headed for Winfield Scott’s brigade. Riall identified them as militia by their gray uniforms. He had seen and beaten this militia in the past.  In fact, they had broken ranks and run in previous engagements. Winfield Scott who commanded this militia was still a young man in his twenties. What Riall didn’t know was that Scott had done his homework the previous winter. He had drilled his militia until they were ready to drop and they cursed him for it. But know they weren’t going to break. Under intense fire from Riall’s forces, they maintained their line and did not break ranks. Then, with parade ground precision they attacked to meet Riall with bayonets.

Riall starred at the advancing Americans in amazement, and uttered a tribute to Scott’s abilities that has come down through the years: “Those are regulars, By God!” Scott drove Riall back with heavy losses. He became a general before the age of thirty, and years later, General-in-Chief of the American Army. He was known as “Old Fuss and Feathers” by then, an acknowledged charismatic commander. But the homework Scott did prior to the Battle of Chippewa was the original source of his charisma.

Build A Mystique

Have you ever seen a magic show? The magician does all sorts of wonderful tricks. These tricks may be grand and involve the disappearance of elephants or the freeing of the magician after being chained in a locked trunk and lowered under tons of water. Or the trick could involve simple cards or coins. The size of the trick doesn’t matter. That we are fooled does. Most magicians seem to have charisma. This is because we don’t understand how the magician is able to do his tricks. This gives him a certain indefinable mystique. And this why magicians never tell you how they do their tricks. They know that to do so means loss of some of their mystique. Sure, we know we are being fooled. It doesn’t matter. The magician knows how to do something that we don’t. He has an aura of mystery and charisma. When someone seems to know how to do something that we cannot comprehend, we follow them eagerly. Somehow they seem to possess this special quality which arouses both loyalty and enthusiasm. Somehow they have charisma.

The interesting thing if we think a person has a secret of how to do something, that person can attain a certain measure of something very close to charisma even after he or she is long dead. Let me prove this to you. You probably have heard of Clausewitz. He was a general during the Napoleonic Wars. His book On War, was published after his death. Today it is read and studied by military men and politicians the world over. But did you know that a hundred years ago, Clausewitz was not so well thought of by those that study strategy. As 20th century strategist Liddell Hart said, “Clausewitz invited misinterpretation more than most.”11 Clausewitz was German, but even Germans did not think as much of Clausewitz as almost every professional military expert does today. Who did military men favor more than a hundred years ago? They studied the works of another Napoleonic general who was Swiss. His name was Jomini.

Major General George B. McClellan writing in 1869 said, “Jomini was the ablest of military writers, and the first author in any age who gathered from the campaigns of the greatest generals, the true principles of war, and expressed them in clear intelligible language.”12    Although Clausewitz was available, the great generals of the U.S. Civil War read Jomini.

Why did things change? In 1870, Germany won some remarkable victories over the French in the Franco-Prussian War. Clausewitz was a German. Everyone assumed that the reason for the German victories was some secret found in Clausewitz. Clausewitz began to acquire a popularity that has continued with German prowess on the battlefield. The irony is that the German victories were based probably primarily on Jomini’s concepts.

The same principle was demonstrated again in the early 1980’s. At the height of the interest in worldwide Japanese business success, it was reported that Japanese managers studied Miyamoto Mushashi. Mushashi was a 17th century Japanese Samurai who was reputed to have killed more than sixty men in personal combat before the age of thirty. Mushashi had published a small book on strategy in dueling. This obscure work had been found and translated into English. It was published accompanied by scenes of Japanese art as a curio. In one year, this “tabletop” book became a management best seller and sold more than 100,000 copies in one year. You can still occasionally find a copy at a bookstore.

If men who have been dead one-two hundred years can suddenly acquire a mystique after their deaths, surely you and I can acquire the full dose with a little effort. The basic way to do this is never to explain how you did something. People are amazed that you accomplished so much in so little time? Fine, let them stay amazed. Don’t explain that you were up every night for a week. Just smile. If everyone wonders how you lost twenty pounds, don’t tell them you were on a diet or have been exercising. Smile. You developed a major marketing strategy in three days?  So what if it was due to updating a strategy you worked out five years ago? Don’t explain yourself, just smile your mysterious smile.

Now please don’t confuse this with another issue. You want to keep those you lead informed and give them the maximum information that you can. You need to train and to lead them.  But never explain how you did something unless you are instructing, teaching or coaching, or a subordinate is asking for help. For the routine “Wow! How did you do that?” just smile and you’ll build your mystique.

As sometimes controversial General, General Charles de Gaulle, President of France, who many said returned France to its glory during World War II said:


“There can be no power without mystery. There must always be a ‘something’ which others cannot altogether fathom, which puzzles them, stirs them, and rivets their attention…. Nothing more enhances authority than silence.”


Use the Indirect Approach

One of Aesop’s fable is a story about an argument that the sun and the wind had as to which was the strongest. The wind noticed a man walking along wearing a coat. He challenged the sun. “I am the stronger, and to prove it, I’ll bet I can get the man to remove his coat before you can” The sun accepted the bet. The wind blew and blew. But the more he blew, the tighter the man held on to his coat. The wind increased his power to hurricane force, but still the man held on to his coat. Finally, the wind gave up. The sun went on an entirely different tack. He merely shined down warmly on the man. After a little while, the man removed the coat on his own. Aesop’s fable is a perfect example of the indirect approach. The idea is to get people to do things because they, and not you want it so.

The indirect approach in strategy was developed more than two thousand years ago by a Chinese general by the name of Sun Tzu. In this century, B.H. Liddell Hart was one of the first to realize that it applied not only to war strategy, but to a wide range of human activities, including leadership.  In his book Strategy, Liddell Hart said: “In all such cases, the direct assault of new ideas provokes a stubborn resistance, thus intensifying the difficulty of producing a change of outlook. …The indirect approach is as fundamental to the realm of politics as to the realm of sex. In commerce, the suggestion that there is a bargain to be secured is far more potent than any direct appeal to buy.”13   The indirect presentation of your ideas to others has a major advantage. It implies that you and those you make your suggestions to agree and that there is no coercion.14

Donald Trump tells the story of how the manager of the Grand Hyatt was successful with him by using the indirect approach. Trump built the Grand Hyatt and still owned a fifty percent interest. The former manager couldn’t stand the interference of Trump and his wife. So, he complained to the head of the Hyatt Hotels. Trump didn’t appreciate this and said: “You’re fired!”

The new manager was a lot smarter. According to Trump, “The new manager did something brilliant. He began to bombard us with trivia. He’d call up several times a week, and he’d say, ‘Donald, we want your approval to change the wallpaper on the fourteenth floor’ or ‘We want to introduce a new menu in one of the restaurants’ or ‘We are thinking of switching to a new laundry service.’ They’d also invite us to all of their management meetings. The guy went so far out of his way to solicit our opinions and involve us in the hotel that finally I said, ‘Leave me alone, do whatever you want, just don’t bother me.’ What he did was the perfect ploy, because he got what he wanted not by fighting but by being positive and friendly and solicitous.”15

Many military posts and bases require inspection of the family housing areas weekly to insure that the lawns are being cut and the grounds cared for. But General George Marshal, Chief of Staff of the Army during World War II, and later Secretary of State had a better way. According to Mrs. Marshal, the then Colonel Marshal took command of a shabby and uncared for post and got it fixed up without a single word of criticism. Colonel Marshal industriously cleaned and trimmed his own grounds, cut the lawn, and planted flowers. Before long, everyone on the post was out working on their own grounds, and the whole post flourished. That’s the indirect approach!16

When I was a high school student, I met the grandfather of my boyhood friend, Ted Wells. Ted Wells’ grandfather was a retired major general. One evening I was sitting next to the general and watching a basketball game. Having just finished eating a hotdog, I let my used paper napkin fall on the bleachers. For a minute, the general didn’t say anything. Than very gently he said, “You know, Bill, I hate to leave any trash on the bleachers. It sets such a poor example for others.” Needless to say, I fell over myself picking up that napkin. The general well understood the indirect approach.

There is an old line that goes, “You can tell a fighter pilot, but you can’t tell him much.” You’ve probably heard the same with “Marines” substituted for “fighter pilots.” In fact, this saying is accurate when applied to any group. Fighter pilots aren’t the only ones that don’t like to be told what to do. The truth, is no one does. This tells us  that we should use the indirect approach whenever possible.

To use the indirect approach, look for opportunities to get people to do things without telling them to do it directly. Look for a way that doesn’t hurt the pride or self-respect of those you lead. One way to do this is simply to present the facts of the situation and let those you lead come to the obvious conclusion. When they do, given them the credit for the idea. Another way is to be courteous in giving orders. “Betty, we’re going to have a division meeting at eleven o’clock. Would you please notify the department managers?” That’s usually better than, “Get the department managers to my office at eleven o’clock!”

Sometimes, you can give an order by turning it into a request. “George, don’t you think you can get the move made by Monday?”

The indirect approach is based on suggestion. When using suggestion, keep these facts in mind:17

n  You must have the attention of the individual you are trying to influence. There must be an absence of conflicting ideas and distractions. If you don’t have this attention, you may not be able to use the indirect approach.

n  The more personal prestige you have due to position, birth, money, accomplishment etc. the greater the strength of your suggestion. However, even the fact that you are a leader gives your suggestion some strength.

n  The closer you are socially to the person you are trying to influence, the stronger the strength of your suggestion. But social closeness isn’t essential for using the indirect approach. It just means that it could make it easier to use the indirect approach in a specific instance.

n  Repetition of a suggestion increases its strength. Once you get someone to do something through the indirect approach, it will be more and more difficult for them to stop. For example, once others emulated then Colonel Marshall taking care of their grounds, it would be increasingly difficult for the to stop.

n  Positive suggestions are more effective than negative suggestions. You can use the indirect approach to get people to do things, or to get people to stop doing things. But it is easier to use the indirect approach to get the to do things.


Seven Actions To Build Your Charisma

So here they are again, seven actions you can take beginning today to start building your charisma. Don’t be surprised when before long some says about you: “He (or she) has something special, and I want to be part of it.”

1. Show your commitment.

2. Look the part.

3. Dream big.

4. Keep moving toward your goals.

5. Do your homework.

6. Build a mystique.

7. Use the indirect approach.

1 John Wareham, Secrets of a Corporate Headhunter (Atheneum: New York, 1980) p. 35.

2 Max Weber, in Hans Gerth and C. Wright Mills, From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (New York: Oxford, 1958) p. 79.

3Ronald E. Riaggio, The Charisma Quotient (New York: Dodd, Mead, & Company, 1987) p. 4

4Tony Alessandra, Charisma(New York: Warner Books, 1998) p. 235.

5 Roger Ailes, “The Secret of Charisma,” Success (July/August, 1988) p. 14.

6 John T. Molloy, Dress For Success (Warner Books: New York, 1980).

7 Charles Garfield, Peak Performers (Avon: New York, 1986) p.23.

8 Ibid. p. 26.

9 Michael Jeffreys, Success Secrets of the Motivational Superstars,” (Rocklin, California: Prima Publishing, 1996) p.2.

10 Ibid., p. 1

11 B.H. Liddell Hart, Strategy, rev. ed. (Frederick A. Praeger: New York, 1962) p.352.

12 Jomini, Clausewitz, and Schlieffen (Department of Military Art and Engineering, USMA: West Point New York, 1954) p. 1.

13 Ibid. p. 18.

14 Air Force Leadership, AFM 35-15 (Department of the Air Force: Washington, D.C., 1948) p. 44.

15 Donalt J. Trump and Tony Schwartz, Trump: The Art of the Deal (Warner Books: New York, 1987) p. 140.

16 Ibid. p.45.

17 Ibid. pp. 76.




“Mix a little mystery with everything, for mystery arouses veneration.”

— Baltasar Gracián, 17th Spanish Priest and Author



I first read this book in 1989 when I was a student at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, part of National Defense University. If you are not in the military, please do not be turned off by the title. An army colonel at the time the book was written, the author, William Darryl Henderson also held the PhD degree. The introduction to the book, is written by Charles Moskos, one of the foremost sociologists in the world. This is a scholarly work which analyzes leadership and societal influences and compares it in the armies of four different countries: the U.S., the Soviet Union, Vietnam, and Israel. Although written more than 25 years ago, the book has lessons which if applied could have saved us much grief in the Iraq War. The lessons of cohesion and what it can do as well as its limits, for ANY organization, be it military, business, or non-profit can be of immense value to any leader. Through the courtesy of National Defense University, here is the link to Cohesion: The Human Element in Combat: .


Many outside the military may not be familiar with the term “cohesion.” A dictionary will just tell you that it has to do with sticking together. Henderson defines cohesion as basically as the bonding together of members of an organization in such a way as to sustain their will and commitment to each other, their organization, and the organization’s mission. Let’s take a look now at some of the lessons from Henderson’s study.


1. Cohesion means that the goals of the “worker” and the organization are congruent, with members giving their primary loyalties to the group to achieve a common objective. This should tell you just how important cohesion is. When there is a tough job to be done, organizational members may need to give of their time and effort, even outside of work to achieve a common objective. Whether they do this “for real” or grudgingly, or just go through the motions depend a great deal on these goals being congruent. How many organization leaders focus on this congruency to make it happen? Do you?

2. Henderson found that certain general organizational characteristics are importance in achieving cohesion. The first is the size of the group — the smaller the better. This goes against conventional teaching about leadership recommending a flat organization with many members reporting to a single boss. The frequency of members association within a group is also an important factor. The more members associate, the better. This goes along with recommendations I have made in building organizational unity. Rather than avoiding chances of getting together outside of work, the more the better. Many organizations today discourage “Happy Hour” because of its propensity to encourage alcoholism and driving while intoxicated. These are really problems. But getting together for socializations are important for cohesion, and leaders should think of other ways to encourage frequent socialization outside of work in other ways.  Another important factor is the duration of the member in the organization. As a result, organizations with high turnovers have a much greater difficulty in promoting or maintaining cohesion. The more structured the associations in the organization, the more influence the organization will have and the better to help create a clear distinction between “us” and “them.” This means that even a small organization of three to ten members should have a structure within it with different permanent assigned tasks.

3. Other characteristics of basic building blocks of the small organizational unit should also demonstrate certain characteristics. A small unit should function as a support group capable of satisfying basic physiological and social needs for the individual member. For example, if a member is fatigued or ill, another member should be ready and willing to pick up the slack. There must be group within which a leader functions to ensure that group norms or expectations of behavior are congruent with organizational objectives. Finally, there needs to be an observation and reporting system that is self-correcting for deviance from group norms by mobilizing peer group and leadership pressure.

4. There are also leadership characteristics which encourage cohesion.  The leadership exercised must be based on personal relationships between the leader and organizational members. Another words, an impersonal style of leadership does not encourage cohesion. The leader needs to communicate higher lever organizational goals and objectives effectively and must follow through by leading the group to achieve them through his personal influence and technical expertise. Going the other way, the leader must do everything possible to maintain higher level support for his efforts in the detection and correction of deviance from group norms. Finally the leader must continually, set the example, teach, and indoctrinate the overall organization’s “ideology.”

5.  There is a contagion that cannot be ignored. That is, whether the organization cohesion is correctly supported by member actions or not, either action is contagious. Therefore, cohesion must be enthusiastically supported, and the opposite ruthlessly suppressed by the leader.

6. Organizations need to be very careful about making compensation in dollars the primary motivation. Other motivators, recognition, personal treatment, skill development, etc. can be more effective.

Few leaders consider cohesion a competitive advantage. It is, and it is a big one. 


by Napoleon Hill

This  is an amazing book, and I recommend it to all leaders. It is a little different from the books I’ve found for you in the past. From the title you may think it has nothing to do with leadership. You would be wrong. I first read it almost 40 years ago. The book was written during the heights of the U.S. depression in 1937 when Napoleon Hill was working as a “dollar a year man” in President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration. It had such an impact that it immediately became a best seller and went into many successive printings and it is still in print today. I don’t know what the total size of its readership is, but I would guess more than a 100 million, and it is still in print and selling in hard cover. You can download this book free from White Dove Books. The link to receive this book is

Here is some additional information about Think and Grow Rich. This is regarded as a classic on success and achievement . The millionaires he outlines in this book credit their fortunes to the principles. However the truth is “grow rich” means more than just grow rich in money. It includes contribution, personal growth, leadership —  any human endeavor.

I don’t know if you are familiar with the story behind Think and Grow Rich. It in itself is extremely interesting. Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish steel industry tycoon who was once a poor Scottish immigrant, was the Bill Gates of his day. Not only was he rich beyond imagination, he was said to have more millionaires working for him than anyone else at that time. And a million dollars in those days around the turn of the century was a lot more in today’s dollars.

To succeed as Andrew Carnegie did, he must have done something different than anyone else. Napoleon Hill was a young journalist assigned to interview Carnegie. Hill had asked Carnegie the secret of his immense success. Carnegie in turn asked Hill if he would be willing to spend 20 years or more in learning his secret by researching the secrets of the most successful men at the time and with Carnegie setting up interviews with them. The only catch was that Hill was to receive no compensation from Carnegie for his investment in time and effort.

Napoleon Hill agreed to these unusual terms and set out to find a practical formula that average men and women could use to generate wealth, happiness, and overall success.

During more than 20 years of research, Hill interviewed more than 504 extraordinarily successful people including:

  • Henry Ford
  • Thomas Edison
  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • John D. Rockefeller
  • Dr. Alexander Graham Bell
  • Wilbur Wright
  • Charles M. Schwab
  • and others equally famous

Can you imagine being able to sit down and chat with these people about how they achieved all that they did? To be able to spend even 5 minutes with any of these fellows would be priceless. These men were the top leaders of their day and they are deservedly still famous. Napoleon Hill extracted their secrets of how they became successful and condensed their concepts into 13 steps to success. This is Think and Grow Rich. Your investment in time in reading this book will be well worthwhile.


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