Dear Colleagues!  This is Pharma Veterans Blog Post #539. Pharma Veterans welcome sharing of knowledge and wisdom by Veterans for the benefit of Community at large. Pharma Veterans Blog is published by Asrar Qureshi onWordPress, the top blog site. Please email to for publishing your contributions here.

Continued from Previous……

If you go back 50-60 years, no one knew the name of the CEOs of even very large corporations. During 1960s and 70s, we used to hear about 22 families who were dominating the business in Pakistan and were alleged to have accumulated the most wealth. The families included Saigols, Adamjees, Dadabhoys, Dawoods etc. These families were into multiple business lines. However, no one knew who the CEO of PEL or Lawrencepur mills or Dawood-Hercules were. India had its Tatas and Birlas, but it was the same situation everywhere. Jack Welch and Andy Grove and Lee Iacocca became household names later, and they did not start this trend.

Currently, many CEOs are well-known as a person, and even as a management wizard or guru. The charismatic CEOs are delivering lectures, and even offering full academic courses that run over an entire semester. Andy Grove’s course offered at Stanford was hugely popular.

A recent article by Dina Gerdeman in Harvard Business School Working Knowledge takes up this topic. [] This article is based on a book by Richard S. Tedlow titled “The Emergence of Charismatic Business Leadership’. Richard has several books to his credit including one on Andy Grove.

[Quote] Think Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Steve Jobs of Apple, and Elon Musk of Tesla.

All these leaders have one thing in common: charisma—and in fact, today it’s a quality that many now consider essential for modern-day leadership, says Richard S. Tedlow, MBA Class of 1949 Emeritus Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and author of the book…[Unquote]

Tedlow’s book digs into the careers of Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey and talks about Charismatic Leadership.

What is Charisma?

He dictionary definition runs like this.

  1. Compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others
  2. A divinely conferred power or talent

Is charisma only conferred or can it be learned?

The NY Times says that charisma is a learned behavior, a skill to be developed in much the same way the other skills are developed.

There are numerous takes on charisma, but I draw your attention to the following points only.

Charisma needs a compelling vision to which the person himself is dedicated. Think of Hitler, whom we may denounce for other reason. There is no doubt that he had a vision and he believed in his vision and that is why he inspired a whole nation. Think of revolutionaries who inspired devotion in their followers

So, having a VISION Is the primary thing

Devotion as a personal trait is necessary to inspire devotion in others.

The ability to lead from the front, to take bold decisions, to take risks, to take responsibility, are some traits that make up charisma. Empathy, people-orientation is highly desired because otherwise leadership is likely to be degraded into tyranny quickly.

Back to the topic of celebrity CEOs, we can safely say that being celebrity is not synonymous to being charismatic. More and more CEOs in many countries are vying to attain celebrity status. It is the new ‘in thing’. Ambani of India made a 27-storied, 4 billion US$ home, and spent millions of dollars on the wedding of his daughter; is clearly a celebrity thing. Such examples can be found everywhere.

Being celebrity is mostly related to lavishness. But it does not equate with real business success. It is the other way round. When businessmen achieve a certain level of business success, they spend money to come into news, and somehow become a celebrity. They may buy a cricket team, a football club, marry a showbiz person, become a socialite and so on.

Being celebrity may or may not mean that they are doing truly groundbreaking work. Or that their work has impacted the world in a highly positive way.

The sum up is that celebrity CEOs may be enjoying their life, but it has no bearing on how they handle the organization.

To be Continued……

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