The role that charm plays
It’s not explicitly written on job postings or candidate profiles but it’s the first thing that sells. Charm is an emotional sleight-of-hand. Unfortunately, the role that charm plays can sometimes replace even sincerity, passion, and a genuinely promising prospect.
Rough on the edges
There are many extremely talented and deeply cerebral individuals for whom the social conventions don’t come naturally. What comes naturally to them is what they do well. They find solace in the state of flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1998) but are uncaught-up in things unrelated to their passion. What kind of work would be possible if sincerity and empathy were enough to make up for the rough edges? If it wasn’t just about charm, I imagine better results in the short-term and long-term because then there is both talent and heart in it.
About culture fit
Over the years, I’ve observed that shared values between the company and an individual are good indicators of culture-fit. This applies to professional and personal company. Common values, drivers, and goals overcomes differences in race, age, gender, professions, and socio-economic status. It even trumps skills-fit and experience, in my opinion. The reason is that skills and experience are learnable and attainable overtime but values don’t just change.
The reason why
Of course, charm has a place and will always have a place. Diplomacy and politeness are always desirable. Presentable looks don’t hurt either. But I reckon, if we step back, we will find that there are other things we wouldn’t want to trade for the X factor. Traits like sincerity, humility, and loyalty. Values like grit and growth. And things like meaning, purpose, and impact. They matter more than charm, don’t they?
Lest we forget.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1998) Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life.