Charismatic Leaders

Being charismatic doesn't make you a leader. Being a leader makes you charismatic. 

Charismatic Leaders Charismatic Leaders

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Table of contents

    - Seth Godin 1

    Have you ever wondered how successful leaders can always encourage their members to do the impossible? Have you ever worked with leaders who know how to drive the best out of you and empower you to accomplish everything? Perhaps there is an adjective that we can use to describe them: 'charismatic.' If you are interested to learn more about charismatic leadership, keep on reading!

    Charismatic Leaders Definition

    In 1976, Robert House first introduced a definition of the concept of charismatic leadership. Thus, he gave rise to a popular trait-based leadership theory known as Charismatic Leadership Theory.2

    Charismatic leadership theory defines the extraordinary or heroic characteristics of leaders that can inspire devotion and motivation within their followers.2

    Accordingly, under the view of charismatic leadership theory, charismatic leaders are those who 'by force of their personal abilities are capable of having profound and extraordinary effects on followers.' 3

    Charismatic leaders are essentially very skilled communicators, individuals who are both verbally eloquent but also able to communicate to followers on a deep, emotional level

    - Dr. Ronald E. Riggio 3

    The importance of charismatic leaders

    At workplaces, charismatic leaders are critical to driving everyone toward success. Specifically, charismatic leaders cultivate employees' pride in their own work and make them try their best every day. Thereby, charismatic leaders act as a bridge between companies' vision and mission and employees' goals and values. Further, in the event of a business downturn, employees rely on charismatic leaders to cohesively overcome challenges together.

    Traits of Charismatic Leaders

    There are various traits associated with successful charismatic leaders. Further, the long-standing 3Cs model of a charismatic leader is also useful in defining their unique characteristics.

    Charismatic Leaders: Common Traits

    In fact, there are five most popular characteristics shared by charismatic leaders, which are:

    • clarity of vision,
    • self-awareness,
    • empathy,
    • inspiration,
    • and creativity.

    Charismatic Leaders: Clarity of vision

    Charismatic leaders typically have a clear vision. Thus, they naturally inspire their followers to work towards the realization of their precise goals. Further, as they thoroughly know what they desire, charismatic leaders can persuasively communicate their visions to their followers while creating general enthusiasm at workplaces.

    How else can a clarity of vision help charismatic leaders?

    By developing clear visions, charismatic leaders can also help their followers to align their individual goals with the companies' visions. Thereby, the teams can grow together into high-performing and passionate ones.

    Charismatic Leaders: Self-awareness

    Charismatic leaders also have a high sense of self-awareness. Accordingly, they are properly aware of their own characters and emotions. Thus, charismatic leaders are always sincere in learning about how others think about them. Further, they are aware of the impact of their words and actions on their followers.

    How can self-awareness assist charismatic leaders at work?

    As charismatic leaders are open to learning about the perception of their employees towards them, charismatic leaders are often more attentive and sincere in responding to employees' wants and needs. For example, by listening to their employees' concerns over increasing stress levels at work, charismatic leaders can think of new ways to make daily office tasks more innovative and enjoyable for their employees.

    Charismatic Leaders: Empathy

    Charismatic leaders are empathetic towards their followers. To illustrate, charismatic leaders are willing to spend time and effort listening to others' challenges and understanding their struggles.

    How can the empathetic trait of charismatic leaders impact their followers?

    Instead of complaining about their employees or insulting them for their mistakes, charismatic leaders focus more on identifying areas for improvement in resolving problems. As a result, followers can also become more open to sharing their thoughts and ideas with charismatic leaders.

    Charismatic Leaders: Inspiration

    At the heart of charismatic leaders is their ceaseless passion and motivation. Thus, charismatic leaders genuinely inspire their followers to accomplish overall business success through their consistent rules and discipline. Further, charismatic leaders feel the urge to hold themselves accountable to everyone around them.

    The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.

    - Ronald Reagan 4

    Charismatic Leaders: Creativity

    Further, charismatic leaders are constantly driven by creativity. Specifically, they always desire to find new and exciting ways to approach things and people. While charismatic leaders are not the ones who always come up with innovative ideas, they can naturally unleash creativity and innovativeness from their followers.

    When are charismatic leaders likely to come up with creative ideas?

    Given their executive roles, charismatic leaders are quite comfortable with certain levels of risk. Thereby, they tend to suggest creative ideas that concern the companies' big picture. For example, they can suggest exciting branding strategies for the next launching periods, innovative workplace renovating plans, or new communication methods across departments.

    Traits of Charismatic Leaders: 3Cs Model

    The 3Cs model, which consists of confidence, compassion, and communication, is also popular in understanding the characteristics of charismatic leaders.

    Charismatic Leaders: Confidence

    Self-confidence is a typical characteristic of charismatic leaders. By being confident, leaders can build higher levels of trust among individuals. Further, self-confidence adds to leaders' credibility. Thereby, followers can feel inspired by charismatic leaders' words and actions.

    How can the self-confidence trait of charismatic leaders contribute to teamwork?

    By being confident in their own strengths and weaknesses, charismatic leaders can develop and promote open communication at work. Thus, their followers feel comfortable when speaking to their leaders. Also, charismatic leaders' confidence is evident in their faith and trust in their teams' capabilities. Therefore, confident charismatic leaders provide their teams with opportunities to learn, experiment, and grow.

    Charismatic Leaders: Compassion

    Furthermore, compassion is a popular trait of charismatic leaders. A compassionate leader is empathetic, self-aware, and supportive towards their followers. Thereby, compassionate leaders are important in creating and maintaining a positive organizational climate and inspiring organizational culture.

    The role of compassion in increasing charismatic leaders' efficiency

    As charismatic leaders are compassionate, they are more mindful of their work and their followers. Thus, they tend to acquire a high emotional quotient that shapes their effective interpersonal skills. As a result, their work efficiency is high when it comes to team organization, resource management, and strategic planning.

    Charismatic Leaders: Communication

    Communication is a consistent trait of effective charismatic leaders. Being skillful communicators, charismatic leaders effectively and efficiently deliver their visions to their employees. Further, they can naturally align such visions with employees' intrinsic motivation at work through their vibrant and persuasive ways of expression.

    The difference between mere management and leadership is communication

    - Winston Churchill 3

    Charismatic Leadership Advantages and Disadvantages

    Undeniably, charismatic leadership brings huge advantages to an organization; however, this charismatic leadership style also entails certain disadvantages.

    • On the one hand, charismatic leadership advantages include the following:
      1. Charismatic leadership encourages people to thrive towards shared values and visions.

      2. Charismatic leadership ties organizations to their central mission and vision.

      3. Charismatic leadership allows failure to learn from mistakes and grow stronger eventually.

      4. Charismatic leadership develops a cohesive organizational culture, with individuals clearly understanding their goals and visions.

    • On the other hand, charismatic leadership disadvantages include the following:
      1. Sometimes, over-confident charismatic leaders can become arrogant and adopt self-serving visions.

      2. Organizations often rely heavily on the presence of charismatic leaders.

      3. It is difficult to find appropriate successors for charismatic leaders. As charismatic leaders often control everything on their own, the tasks of searching for their successors are time-consuming and demanding.

    Examples of Charismatic Leaders

    In this section, we will introduce you to some famous charismatic leaders examples worldwide.

    Famous Charismatic Leaders: Nelson Mandela

    Being an inspiring South African activist and the first president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela is a prominent charismatic leader. He possessed a strong vision of fighting against racism and oppressive governments. Also, under his empathetic and inspiring leadership, he successfully created a new era of democracy for his country.

    How did Nelson Mandela develop his charismatic leadership style?

    Nelson Mandela had his leadership skills trained at an early stage since his childhood. To many people's surprise, it was not Nelson Mandela's imprisonment on Robben Island or his law practice that taught him lessons about leadership. It was indeed Nelson Mandela's adoptive father who did.5

    After the death of his biological father, Nelson Mandela was adopted by the supreme leader of the Thembu, Jongintaba Dalindyebo. As Dalindyebo was a charismatic tribal leader who cared about people and diplomacy, Nelson Mandela learned a lot from his adoptive father's leadership style. Accordingly, Mandela accompanied his father in every discussion during which people from all societal classes expressed their concerns with their tribal leader.

    Interestingly, according to Mandela, Dalindyebo never made any decisions for his people. Instead, Dalindyebo only gave his people sincere bits of advice and sound suggestions. This was, to Mandela, so inspiring that he chose to become a charismatic leader, just as his adoptive father did! 5

    Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice.

    - Nelson Mandela 5

    Famous Charismatic Leaders: Barack Obama

    Barack Obama is widely known as the first non-white President of the United States of America. He is, indeed, an exemplary charismatic leader, which is evident in his debates and press interactions. Naturally, Barack Obama possesses persuasive communication style that unites his own visions with his people's needs and wants.

    If you're walking down the right path and you're willing to keep walking, eventually, you'll make progress.

    - Barack Obama 6

    How did Barack Obama's charismatic leadership style influence his communication style?

    Throughout his electoral campaigns and his presidency, Barack Obama consistently communicated his advocacy for topics of LGBT+, minorities, and women. As a result, he maintained his consistent image as one of the most active American liberals. Further, he shaped a positive relationship with the public and the media. Besides, during Barack Obama's speeches, a common theme deep-rooted in concerns over national unity and the greatness of the united American people. Moreover, he expressed himself in empathetic and trustworthy ways by picturing himself as a working man with rich experiences and hard-working attitudes.6

    Socialized Charismatic Leaders

    Recently, there has been a new type of charismatic leadership style known as socialized charismatic leadership.

    Socialized charismatic leadership implies leaders' unselfish intention in assisting followers in internalizing their values.7

    For example, socialized charismatic leaders are always willing to inspire their followers by presenting and maintaining their own ideal visions. Accordingly, followers can regard their socialized charismatic leaders as their role models.

    Characteristics of socialized charismatic leaders

    Commonly, socialized charismatic leaders act for the benefit of their followers, not the leaders' own gains. Further, they always try their best to align their values with their followers' values and goals. Also, by restraining their leadership power, socialized charismatic leaders prioritize the intellectual stimulation of their followers.

    Essentially, by becoming charismatic leaders, you pursue the rewarding journey of tapping into others' hearts and souls to lead. While the charismatic leadership style is one of the most effective leadership styles in business, there remain certain pitfalls. Thereby, perhaps developing adequate leadership skills and efficient work ethics are as important as choosing your own leadership style!

    Charismatic Leaders - Key takeaways

    • Charismatic leadership theory defines the extraordinary or heroic characteristics of leaders that can inspire devotion and motivation within their followers.
    • The five most popular characteristics shared by charismatic leaders are clarity of vision, self-awareness, empathy, inspiration, and creativity.
    • The three 3Cs model, which consists of confidence, compassion, and communication, is also popular in understanding the characteristics of charismatic leaders.
    • Socialized charismatic leadership implies leaders' unselfish intention to assist followers in internalizing their values.

    References

    1. Berry. The Quotable Coach. https://www.thequotablecoach.com/being-charismatic-doesnt-make-you-a-leader-being-a-leader-makes-you-charismatic/
    2. Gary Yukl. A retrospective on Robert House's “1976 theory of charismatic leadership” and recent revisions. https://www.academia.edu/64843720/A_retrospective_on_Robert_Houses_1976_theory_of_charismatic_leadership_and_recent_revisions
    3. Jain, N. K. Organizational Behavior. Atlantic Publisher & Distributor.
    4. Alitze Malik. Leadership!. https://medium.com/@LizSwag/leadership-32e96675aa6c
    5. Mark Van Vugt. The Charismatic Appeal of Nelson Mandela. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/naturally-selected/201312/the-charismatic-appeal-nelson-mandela
    6. Parlia. Barack Obama's charisma shows charisma makes star quality. https://www.parlia.com/a/barrack-obamas-charisma
    7. Degarmo. Achieving Value Fit Through Socialized Charismatic Leadership. https://www.degarmo.com/achieving-value-fit-through-socialized-charismatic-leadership
    Frequently Asked Questions about Charismatic Leaders

    What are charismatic leaders?

    Charismatic leaders are those who 'by force of their personal abilities are capable of having profound and extraordinary effects on followers'. 

    Who is a charismatic leader example?

    Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama are examples of charismatic leaders.

    Who are charismatic leaders in the world?

    Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama are examples of charismatic leaders.

    What is a characteristic of charismatic leaders?

    There are five most popular characteristics shared by charismatic leaders, which are: clarity of vision, self-awareness, empathy, inspiration, creativity. 

    Why is it called charismatic leadership?

    Charismatic leadership theory defines the extraordinary or heroic characteristics of leaders that can inspire devotion and motivation within their followers.

    Why are charismatic leaders important?

    Charismatic leadership advantages include:

    1. Charismatic leadership encourages people to thrive towards shared values and visions.

    2. Charismatic leadership ties organizations to central mission and vision. 

    3. Charismatic leadership allows failure to learn from mistakes and grow stronger eventually.

    4. Charismatic leadership develops a cohesive organizational culture, with individuals clearly understanding their goals and visions.

    Is Bill Gates a charismatic leader?

    Yes, Bill Gates is a charismatic leader.

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    In which year Robert House first mentioned the concept of charismatic leadership?

    Charismatic leaders are those who 'by force of their personal abilities are ____  of having profound and extraordinary effects on followers'

    Which is not a common trait of charismatic leaders?

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