Charismatic leadership

From CEOpedia | Management online

Charismatic leadership is a term that define a person or group of people who manifest superior leading abilities. Charismatic leader displays an ease in building and sustaining an emotional attachment to the people following him. Such feeling is based on belief, that the entire team contributes to achieving a goal they all believe in.

Being a charismatic leader is also about having an ability to share a vision with followers and guide them to achieving an idealized, yet common goal. Such vision should affect people around in a way they feel are extremely willing to make it live and fulfill that image. It works by creating an emotional connection on a field leader-vision-follower. The more extraordinary, uncommon and profitable the image is, the bigger the chance to get the team devoted. Such group should base on mutual trust and belief they head towards a greater good. Yet is needs to be well understood to the members that certain working standards have to be maintained, due to the fact that image of a better future does not come at any cost(B.J. Avolio, F.J. Yammarino 2013, XXVII).

True leader's attitude

The most important factor is their approach - such leaders fulfill their vision by presenting it as an innovative and shared by the people surrounding them, show highly motivational pose of being a "role model of assertiveness and confidence"(Conger, Kanungo 1998), yet caring about about others needs. They take risks, but never at a cost of the team leaded, to achieve a common vision. Team influenced by them tends to avoid critical conflicts that would away the target. There is a high level of trust to be spotted among the followers caused by a belief of being empowered by the leader(J.A. Conger, R.N. Kanungo 1998, p. 64-67). People leaded by a charismatic individual are also deeply stimulated, both on an intellectual and spiritual field.

Key behaviors in charismatic leadership

According to Conger's and Kanungo's(1998) theory there are certain types of behaviors standing out:

  1. Innovative strategic vision - ability to think about certain future state and using all resources to make it happen; articulating appealing and emphasizing aspects of the work
  2. Showing sensitivity to member needs - studies show that the most productive type of employer is the one, who believes he's contributing to a greater good and is responsible for the work he does. He also communicates in a way that unveils expectation of high performance in return, but is not brazen or insolent.
  3. Taking personal risks - they make bold moves which often lead them to achieving exceptional scores showing high level of self confidence,
  4. Displaying unconventional behavior - charismatic leaders think out of the box and look up for constant possibility to improve, either amongst the team members or himself,
  5. Showing sensitivity to environment which means paying strong attention to dangers, opportunities and constraints.
  6. Ability to give both verbal and written feedback - constructive information about followers way of work often result in them willing to improve and showing serious interest about what are they focused on(G. Yukl 1999, p. 285-305).

Examples of Charismatic leadership

  1. Mahatma Gandhi: Mahatma Gandhi was a leader of India’s independence movement in British-ruled India. He was a spiritual leader who developed a form of nonviolent resistance, or civil disobedience, to achieve his goals. Gandhi’s charisma inspired millions of people to fight for independence.
  2. Martin Luther King Jr.: Martin Luther King Jr. was an American minister and activist who led the civil rights movement in the United States. He was a prominent leader in the campaign to end racial segregation and discrimination in the United States. His message of peace and nonviolence inspired millions of people to join the civil rights movement.
  3. Nelson Mandela: Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician who served as the President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was a powerful voice for freedom and equality in South Africa, and his charisma inspired many people to fight for justice and human rights.
  4. Steve Jobs: Steve Jobs was an American entrepreneur, business magnate, and investor. He was the co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc., and his charisma inspired millions of people around the world to embrace technology. He was able to motivate and inspire his employees to create revolutionary products.

Advantages of Charismatic leadership

A Charismatic leadership can bring a number of advantages to an organization. These include:

  • Increased motivation and morale among team members, resulting in higher productivity and better performance. This can be achieved through a leader’s ability to inspire and motivate, as well as their enthusiasm and passion for the work.
  • Improved communication between team members and the leader, resulting in better decision-making and problem solving.
  • A more positive, collaborative team environment, which can result in a greater level of commitment and dedication to the organization.
  • Increased loyalty among team members, as they have faith in their leader and the direction they are taking.
  • Increased creativity and innovation, as team members are encouraged to think outside of the box and come up with new ideas and solutions.
  • A greater sense of team unity, as everyone is working towards a common goal and feeling part of something bigger.

Limitations of Charismatic leadership

Charismatic leadership has certain limitations. The following are the main limitations of Charismatic Leadership:

  • It is often difficult to sustain - Charismatic leadership relies heavily on the leader’s personality and unique style. As a result, when the leader is gone, or their style changes, the team may struggle to remain cohesive.
  • It requires an emotional connection with followers - Charismatic leaders are successful because they are able to inspire their followers with a sense of purpose and shared vision. Without this emotional connection, the leader may struggle to maintain their influence and the team may become divided.
  • It can be difficult to measure - Charismatic leaders can create a sense of enthusiasm and motivation that is not easily measured. This can make it difficult to evaluate the leader’s impact on the team and can lead to an over-reliance on the leader’s presence.
  • It is not always appropriate - Charismatic leadership may not be appropriate in all situations. Depending on the context, it may be more effective to use a different style of leadership that is better suited to the task at hand.

Other approaches related to Charismatic leadership

To complement Charismatic Leadership, other approaches and styles of leading include:

  • Transformational leadership, which focuses on inspiring and motivating followers to achieve their personal and professional goals. It involves creating a shared vision and inspiring followers to work together to achieve it.
  • Autocratic leadership, which involves the leader making all decisions with little or no input from followers. It is useful for situations that require quick decisions and for followers who do not have the ability to make their own decisions.
  • Participative leadership, which involves sharing decision-making with followers. This approach encourages followers to be involved in the decision-making process and can lead to better decisions as more ideas and perspectives are taken into consideration.
  • Servant leadership, which involves prioritizing the needs of followers over the needs of the leader. This style of leadership focuses on the development of the followers and creating an environment where they can thrive.

In summary, Charismatic Leadership is just one of many approaches to leadership, and there are many other approaches that can be used in conjunction with it to create an effective leadership style.

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Author: Kamil Ochmański