Interview with Roberta Matuson: On becoming a magnetic leader

Vera: Congratulations on your new book ‘the Magnetic leader’. Who is a magnetic leader compared to the regular leader so to speak?

Roberta: I spoke with many people whom I consider magnetic leaders and found they possess a number of the seven traits I outline in my book. Let me share with you three of those traits. The first is authenticity. A magnetic leader is someone who doesn’t try to be someone else. They don’t change who they are based on office politics. They are true to themselves and are honest in their dealings with others.

A magnetic leader has vision. They have a vivid imagination that inspires others to get on board and join them. Transparency is another trait of magnetic leaders. They are consistently honest and open in their communication—so much so that people never have to guess what these people really mean when they say something.


Vera: You have a concept in your book; that leaders should transform their leadership style from ‘’push to pull’. What does that mean and how does it work day to day?

Roberta: When you achieve the status of a magnetic leader, people will seek you out. This applies to attracting new career opportunities for you personally, as well as employees who are interested in working with a leader they respect. Those in your employ will do things because they want to and not because they have to.


Vera: You have a view that organizations tend to promote people to manager for the wrong reasons. What criteria should executives use to determine who becomes a manager?

Roberta: I would say,

  • Desire. I put this one first, because if someone doesn’t really want a leadership role, the rest of the list doesn’t matter.
  • Aptitude. They must have the capacity and readiness to lead others.
  • Traits. Those you are about to promote should have similar traits to those leaders who are most successful in your organization.
  • Attitude. Management isn’t for the wary. You have to come to work every day with a can-do attitude, regardless of what may be going on in your life.
  • Stamina. You have to be prepared to step in and do the work of others, should they move to greener pastures. This requires energy that not everyone has.


Vera: When you say “not everyone has the stamina to be a leader’’, what do you see as the toughest part of being a leader?

Roberta: The buck stops with you. This means if your people are not able to get their work done on time, you may very well find yourself doing their job and yours. This takes stamina, as many leaders are already working overtime, just to get their own job done.


Vera: These days not only do companies not offer jobs for life, but employees have also become increasingly more mobile. How does an executive get great talent to stay longer than they would otherwise?

Roberta: Here’s what I tell my clients. What’s the point of hiring great people if you can’t keep them? We know people don’t leave companies. They leave their leaders. Invest in your leaders. Hire executive coaches for those who could use some smoothing around the edges. Provide your leaders with on-going training and support them in their growth. If you do this, you will no doubt significantly decrease your employee turnover.


Vera: You become a manager at only 24 years; now as an internationally recognized expert in leadership and management what would you say made the most difference in rising from a novice in management to where you are now?

Roberta: I took risks. When my boss was fired, I went in and asked for her job. I continued to invest in myself. I spent my evenings pursing my MBA and have always been a lifelong learner.


Roberta’s profile

Roberta Matuson is President of Matuson Consulting. She helps Fortune 500 companies and high growth businesses create exceptional workplaces leading to extraordinary results. Roberta is considered a leading authority on leadership and the skills and strategies required to earn employee commitment and client loyalty. Her clients include General Motors, Microsoft as well as federal agencies Roberta is the author of the international bestseller, Suddenly in charge, a Washington Post top 5 books for leaders, Talent Magnetism and the newly released, The Magnetic leader. Roberta writes for Monster, Staples, Forbes and Fast Company. More on Roberta’s work at


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