Strategic Market Leadership

Developing Discernment in Leadership - Part 3

Wed, 2013-06-12 11:51 -- tomjonez


In last week’s article on the topic of discernment, I stated, “In order for leaders to lead effectively, the exercise of discernment is essential.  We live in a day when anyone with charisma can attract a crowd – whether they are the real deal or a mere charmer with advanced personal communication skill.  The ability to tell the difference is essential.  This ability is called discernment.”

In response, several questions have arisen:

“What is meant by the phrase, ‘a mere Charmer’?”

“How can such leaders be discerned?”

“Who is deceived by such leaders?”

Unfortunately this venue does not provide the appropriate format for a thorough answer.  Therefore what follows is incomplete (only focused on one “flavor” of discernment) and is provided with the known risk of generalizing:

We could refer to the “Charmer” referenced above as a deceptive leader; and those who follow them as the “Charmed.” Quoting from a study on this matter,

The functioning of charmer and the charmed is one of mutual reinforcement – and self-deception.  …  A person needs to be special [the “Charmer”] and a group of people feeds the specialness [the “Charmed”] [1]

“One radiates glory [the Charmer] and the others bask in that person’s glow [the Charmed].  One projects the image of self-confidence and the second party idealizes the person who can be so certain, so self-assured.  Each needs the other.  Their relationship is one of emotional fusion, for neither is able to stand back and see what is happening.[2]

A further clue regarding the nature of such leaders is the following:

“[The “Charmer”] thrive[s] on the ecstasy of numbers.  [He or She] functions like a magnet, possessing the power of attraction.  People caught in the spell … mistake the charm, self-confidence, and certainty for substance, when in reality it is pretentious fluff and feathers.” [3]

There is so much more to add which could further clarify these descriptions and build depth in our ability to discern such matters.  However, as mentioned above, a complete exploration of this topic is beyond the scope of these brief Leadership Notes.

Even so, it behooves those of us in leadership to develop our discernment.  Doing so not only benefits us; more importantly, it can benefit – and potentially protect – those who are impacted by our leadership.

Next week we will look at a very simplistic detection method that is useful in developing our discernment.

[1] Peter L.  Steinke, Postscript: People of the Charm, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times, (Herndon: The Alban Institute, 2006), 168.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.