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The Charismatic Leader

August 1, 2012

Charisma is a form of interpersonal attraction that inspires support and acceptance.  A leader who obtains charisma is more likely to be able to influence others than someone who lacks charisma.  By this I mean influencing positive behavior of others.  Robert House’s theory of Charismatic Leadership says that charismatic leaders are likely to have a lot of self-confidence, firm confidence in their beliefs and ideals, and a strong need to influence people.  According to the book, Organizational Behavior, Managing People and Organizations charismatic leaders also tend to communicate high expectations about follower performance and express confidence in their followers and maintain three attributes.

Three Elements of a Charismatic Leader:

  1. Envisioning:  Articulating a compelling vision; setting high expectations; and modeling consistent behaviors.
  2. Energizing:  Demonstrating personal excitement; expressing personal confidence; seeking finding and using success.
  3. Enabling:  Expressing personal support; empathizing; expressing confidence in people.

Charismatic leaders can be a powerful force in any organization and charismatic leadership ideas are quite popular today; however there are some ethical concerns about leadership.  These concerns are the result of the fact that leaders that are so charismatic can lead and inspire by blind faith held by their followers.  Such blind faith that followers may engage in inappropriate or even illegal behavior.  Such charismatic leaders can influence people to do almost anything, like in Enron – people followed orders to hide information and mislead investigators because their boss told them to.,

Charismatic leaders include Steve Jobs, Ted Turner, Ronald Reagan and many more inspirational leaders.  In addition charismatic leaders also include those like Adolf Hitler and Osama Bin Laden.

Charisma can be a very powerful tool, hopefully in most cases it is used for good instead of evil.  Like many things there is a bright side and a dark side to charismatic leadership, it the question of being able to tell the difference between the two.

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