I run a large food business, and it’s dawned on me that I haven’t got the leadership qualities of pizzazz, Obama-style oratory and charm. Can I learn these?

You can certainly learn to be a better public speaker, but frankly the real answer to your question is whether charisma is an essential attribute of a great leader. You remind me of a statement by one of the sharpest observers of leadership, Jim Collins: “If I’m enormously charismatic, I can convince you to do a lot of things because of the force of my personality. But force or personality is not an argument. It’s not facts, it’s not evidence, it’s not data. Charisma is irrelevant. It’s not good or bad, it’s irrelevant.”

I hope you feel he has made the point pretty clearly. You’re running a big business and many people depend on your insight, your understanding and your judgement. I suggest you stick with honing those skills.

However, if your ‘lack of charisma’ is really about not working effectively with your people, then you must train your thoughts on building a great team based on mutual trust and respect. As you might expect, I would strongly recommend the use of a coach for a short period to give you perspective and direction.

A good friend casually remarked that if I carry on working at my current intensity I’m liable to put my marriage at risk. It’s terrible to admit that this came as a bit of a shock and although we have never really discussed it I feel that my wife recognises the importance of the financial security that my job brings.

Sadly, you haven’t told me what your job is but I often work with clients who have a period of self-discovery during coaching that highlights tensions with partners. As you found, these can sometimes be sudden and distressing. The problem is often that the partner has already devoted a lot of thought to their views and potential solutions and is therefore way ahead of your thought processes.

So, first things first. You need to discover how your wife sees the reality of your work. Hopefully, you will discover there is no crisis but rapid fine-tuning will be helpful.

It’s extraordinary how many couples do not have this conversation until it’s far too late. However, your friend’s remark may not have been quite as naïve as you thought so may I recommend some alacrity in your response. If it helps you to focus, let me tell you that dealing with the breakup of a relationship will really take your eye off the business ball that you value so highly.