The Ins and Outs of Charismatic Leadership

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Charismatic leadership is a style of leadership that draws from the charm and personality of the leader of an organization or business to positively influence those around him in the service of a common goal.

Charismatic leadership is all about the personality of the leader. A charismatic leader has expertise in his field and exhibits devotion to that field for the greater good. This person is usually defined as a charismatic leader when there’s a need for change or when a crisis arises. The charismatic leader is driven and committed to what he believes in and uses that commitment to influence those around him.

Rallying others is a priority of a charismatic leader, and he uses this ability to engage a large audience and to encourage initiative and boldness within the group. A charismatic leader will communicate on a deep emotional level when needed to strike a chord with the audience and get them to sit up and take notice. He will work to guide employees, members or volunteers in the chosen direction. He does this with a spirit of collaboration that encourages and inspires those around him.

Characteristics of Charismatic Leadership There are five basic characteristics that help to define a charismatic leader. Those characteristics are confidence, creativity, vision, determination and communication. Charismatic leaders also show sensitivity to their surrounding environment and give attention to the needs of their employees or those in their group. Charismatic leaders should be articulate and adept at using unconventional behavior. Leaders are inclined toward taking personal risk and are considered visionaries.

Examples of Charismatic Leadership Charismatic leaders are found in business and politics. There are also notable charismatic leaders in religious groups as well as social movements. Ronald Regan and Sir Winston Churchill are examples of charismatic leaders in political fields. Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II are considered charismatic religious leaders. Lee Iacocca and Jack Welch are two examples of business leaders.

Advantages of Charismatic Leadership As with any type of leadership, there are both advantages and disadvantages to the charismatic style of leadership. Advantages of the charismatic leadership often include the fact that it inspires people to work together and be committed to a central mission. Businesses and groups with charismatic leadership work together and stand for their convictions. People with charismatic leadership skills also are willing to voice their opinions to people or groups who have different views of society or the business. Supporters can easily see the vision of the leader and be inspired by his commitment.

Disadvantages of Charismatic Leadership Disadvantages of the charismatic leadership style include a higher probability of early burnout for both the leader and the supporters or employees. This is often due to the fact that the charismatic leader and followers are so committed to the cause. Organizations can often become too dependent on the leader and fall apart if the leader is separated from the group. Another disadvantage is that the charismatic leader may believe that he is above the law, which can lead to him committing financial or ethical violations. Charismatic leaders may not learn from their mistakes and may regularly repeat them or make them worse.