Do you at times feel star-struck when you look at celebrities or political leaders and are influenced by their words, confidence, and how they carry themselves? This is all due to the charisma they exude. This blog helps you understand what is charismatic leadership, its characteristics, and its advantages.
What is Charismatic Leadership?
The concept of charismatic leadership was proposed by German sociologist Max Weber. He described the term charisma as “the authority of the extraordinary and personal gift of grace.” Thus, this kind of leadership, according to him, is an individual leadership style that is characterized by charm, persuasiveness, heroism, and confidence in the leader. He also referred to charismatic leadership as a form of authority, different from legal and traditional authority, in which the leaders command obedience from their followers not because of a social or legal phenomenon but due to their connection.
Types of Charismatic Leadership
Socialized Charismatic Leadership
In this type of leadership, the focus is on the social welfare or benefits of other people. Leaders use their charisma and power to inspire people to bring positive changes in society.
Personalized Charismatic Leadership
Personalized charismatic leadership is centered on the leaders. They use their power and influence over people to serve their agendas.
Divine Charismatic Leadership
In this type of leadership, people believe that a leader has divine or supernatural powers, and is a messenger of God.
Characteristics of Charismatic Leadership
Charismatic leadership is considered to be a revolutionary form of leadership as charismatic leaders emerge in times of desperate need for change, and promise to transform society through their exceptional skills. Such leadership is characterized by:
- Magnetism: Charismatic leaders have a strong magnetic personality. They exude confidence and enthusiasm that draw people toward them
- Clear Vision: Charismatic leaders show a clear and compelling vision of the future to people and inspire them to work toward this vision
- Effective Communication Skills: Charismatic leadership requires effective communication and listening skills to establish strong connections with people and gain their trust
- Boldness: Charismatic leaders appear to be bold, strong, and confident individuals who have a strong conviction in their beliefs and are not afraid to take risks
When is Charismatic Leadership Effective?
Now that you understand what is charismatic leadership, let’s see when this type of leadership can be used:
1. In Times of Uncertainty
This type of leadership is most effective in extreme situations, especially where there is uncertainty or threat. In such times, people need a powerful leader, who and strong, offers them hope, and inspires them to stick to their beliefs. For instance, during the time of massive layoffs by companies, charismatic leaders can empathize with people and motivate them.
2. In Politics
This kind of leadership is often seen to be effective in the political sphere where people need strong and visionary leaders who can make the country more powerful.
3. In Times of Transformation
It is also effective when people in an organization or society lack vision and confidence. In such cases, charismatic leaders can use their power to influence people, show them a vision, and inspire them to achieve goals. Thus, such leadership can be effective when a positive and aggressive transformation is required.
The Best Practices for Charismatic Leadership
Combine Power and Compassion
What do you expect from a leader? To be empathetic, and compassionate, and listen to their followers’ problems. At the same time, the leader should also have the power and capability to overcome challenges and drive results. Hence, a blend of power and compassion is the ultimate tool required to become a charismatic leader.
Charismatic leadership is a two-way street: Both charismatic leaders and their followers have power over each other. It is an interactive leadership style where the leader promises to address the issues faced by the followers and bring transformation. Hence, active listening is one of the key aspects of charismatic leadership. It helps leaders establish a strong connection with their followers and have the ability to influence them.
Work on Your Communication Skills
The conventional definition of charisma suggests that it is not a personality trait but is defined by how people view you. However, the modern definition of charisma relates to personality traits like high emotional intelligence, confidence, power, persuasion, magnetism, and effective communication. Charismatic leaders need effective communication skills to explain their goals and vision to their followers and inspire them, connect with them, and build trust.
Charismatic Leadership Advantages and Disadvantages
Here is how such leadership brings positive change in an organization:
- It focuses on strong business ethics and moral values and makes employees more committed to the organization
- It focuses on effective communication and connection with the employees, creating a sense of belonging and inclusivity in an organization
- It inspires and motivates people to perform better and deliver results
Despite being an effective leadership style, overuse of charisma can have the following downsides too:
- People start to blindly believe the leader and there is a lack of criticism. Due to this, a charismatic leader can motivate his followers to perform acts of cruelty or violence. For example, the genocide committed by Nazis in Germany under the influence of Adolf Hitler’s leadership
- Extreme trust in people can also make a charismatic leader develop narcissistic qualities, leading to a self-serving attitude
- Charismatic leaders may give false vision to people to become influential and might not necessarily deliver the expected results
What Distinguishes Charismatic Leadership From Other Leadership Styles?
Laissez-Faire Leadership vs. Charismatic Leadership
Laissez-faire leadership is based on the concept of trust in the employees. These leaders use a hands-off approach and provide freedom or autonomy to the employees while completing tasks. In charismatic leadership, the leader is a role model for the followers. Employees follow the leader’s advice to perform tasks.
Democratic Leadership vs. Charismatic Leadership
In democratic leadership, a leader gets equally involved with all the other stakeholders, and decision-making is done through collaboration. In charismatic leadership, a leader uses his charisma or influence to motivate people.
Autocratic Leadership vs. Charismatic Leadership
Autocratic leadership focuses on complete ownership or control. Employees learn about the decisions made by the leader only later. Charismatic leadership involves effective communication between the leader and employees. The leader also empathizes with the followers, understands their challenges, and endeavors to resolve them.
Examples of Charismatic Leadership
These examples of the world’s most popular leaders should help you understand what is charismatic leadership better:
Barack Obama, the 44th president of the U.S., is a prime example of a charismatic leader. The presence of 1.8 million people at his first inauguration ceremony speaks volumes of his influence over the masses. He is considered to be an ambitious, confident, and assertive leader whose life story, behavior, and personality have all played a crucial role in his popularity.
Another example of a charismatic business leader is Elon Musk. He focuses on transformation and innovation by analyzing problems and coming up with strategic, disruptive solutions.
Charismatic leaders are often role models for the masses due to their strong beliefs and value system. Oprah Winfrey, an American talk show host, actress, and philanthropist, perfectly fits the above description. Her confidence, consistency, and vision have made her talk show win several awards, and helped her develop a strong connection with her audience.
Lee Kuan Yew
Rhetoric content or effective and persuasive speech is another essential factor for the emergence of charismatic leaders. A prime example of this is Lee Kuan Yew, former president of Singapore. It was through his speeches that he was able to motivate the audience by showing self-confidence, talking about his vision, and emphasizing a multicultural society in Singapore.
As a leader, along with knowledge and experience, you must possess essential leadership attributes like charisma, the ability to influence others, effective communication, and more. Only then can you have the power to lead or control. Emeritus’ online leadership courses help you learn what is charismatic leadership—and other leadership styles too—and acquire relevant leadership skills to boost your career.
By Sneha Chugh
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