The Cella Slant: The Importance of Charisma and Passion in Leaders

By Jackie Schaffer

There are a lot of qualities you look for when hiring managers—functional expertise, strategic thinking skills, a knack and interest for developing people, leadership qualities. If you peel the onion back on leadership qualities, there are several things you look for. Two that are really important to me are charisma and passion…and sometimes these can be difficult to ascertain in an interview setting, so creating interview questions designed to under cover these traits is important.

The ability to inspire people is a major component of being a leader. Inspiring your team comes through speaking about the department’s function and future with passion. It also comes through consistently delivering for your team—this doesn’t mean everything they ask for they get, but it means being an advocate and coaching them to the appropriate right-sized solution so they understand when something is out of scope, but also giving them a forum to push back on you (my former team never would have had double monitors had it not been for a passionate designer’s plea and research). Inspirational leaders allow their team to inspire them and positively reflect that enthusiasm back to their team.

If you’re a creative leader but more of an introvert, it may be difficult for your team to recognize your passion and charisma. Consider building your leadership team with people who complement your personality, and lean on those individuals to build enthusiasm in the staff. It’s important that teams have at least one leader whose passion and charisma can capture the team’s attention and build reciprocal excitement about their roles, the department’s mission and the future.

Jackie Schaffer, vice president and general manager of Cella Consulting, is a former in-house leader who has consulted for teams of all sizes, including Fortune 500 clients, government entities and educational institutions and has the unique opportunity to speak with hundreds of creative leaders each year. Cella helps creative leaders and their teams identify and execute strategic priorities, so they can increase their effectiveness and focus on creating high-quality creative.

Cella is a co-author of the In-House Creative Services Industry Report and authors weekly blogs on business operations topics pertinent to the role of creative leaders.