Image: Daniel Howard Image: Daniel Howard

In the midst of the recent British political mayhem, it was his once in a lifetime chance to become the leader of one of the world’s greatest powers.


He completely undermined his chance of achieving this…and mainly because he forced his (false) modesty too hard on the people who could have voted for him.

I speak of UK Conservative politician and now ex-government minister Michael Gove.

He put himself forward to become leader of the in-power Conservative Party and, as we speak, the next British Prime Minister.

Aside from the fact that he reneged on a deal to back a popular candidate and (Brexit) colleague for the position, namely the charismatic Boris Johnson, opting instead, at the last minute, to go for the party leader position himself, effectively ending Boris Johnson’s Prime Ministerial hopes...

He then made himself look and sound like anything but the leader he was so ruthlessly ambitious to be.

When making the announcement to go for the leadership, he said: “I never thought I’d ever be in this position. I did not want it, indeed I did almost everything not be a candidate for the leadership of this party. I was so very reluctant because I know my limitations. Whatever charisma is I don’t have it, whatever glamour may be I don’t think anyone could ever associate me with it.

“But, at every step in my political life, I’ve asked myself one question. What is the right thing to do. What does your heart tell you. However inconvenient, however difficult, whatever personal risks it may entail. What is the right thing to do. What does your heart tell you.”

Research conducted by Duke University in the USA found that if you have any weaknesses then you should mention them, and do so at the beginning of any presentation or interview.

In short, the psychologists found that this showed you had integrity.

And they’re right. But only to a point.

The problem is…

Michael Gove got it very, very wrong.

He told the world he doesn’t have charisma.

“HE DID WHAT,” I hear you say.

One of the key characteristics of being a great leader, especially of the world’s fifth largest economy, is charisma.

Charisma helps you engage clients, colleagues and other key people you need to develop a rapport with and then take with you on a path that may not always be easy; a path that may test you and your relationship with them.

Not being able to do so doesn’t just make your life harder to persuade, to lead and to earn the respect of those in your life, it can make it impossible.

So charisma is crucial.


If, when you’re being hard on yourself, you have suspicions that you’re not as charismatic as you’d like to be or, much more likely, convince yourself falsely that you don’t have any charisma at all, then make sure…


If you want to persuade people, there are some things you must never admit to when being interviewed, making presentations, sales pitches or announcements:

  1. Being uncharismatic
  2. Being bad at your job
  3. Being unable to deliver the results your audience hopes you can
  4. Thinking Michael Gove’s approach to leadership communication is the best way forward!
Of course, there are a few people who really do have no charisma. It’s hard for them to life. But they are a minority.

If you have any confidence then you’re on the way to being charismatic…if you allow yourself to be.

Now, even admitting you were a criminal (unless it involved genocide or something against children) or the fact that you used to proudly wear legwarmers, can make you sound interesting…as long as you’ve learned the errors of your ways. There’s a comeback to these – even the worrying legwarmer thing.

But admitting to not having charisma as someone who wants to be seen as and made a leader is a No-No.

Modesty, in the right does and places, can be delightful when you’re communicating with an important audience.


Modesty, if forced, can be disastrous…for you.

By Seán Brickell, founder of Life Impact