Charismatic Leadership Essay

2047 words - 8 pages

1. INTRODUCTIONCharisma is a strange, fascinating, and ultimately puzzling phenomenon.It converted a German postcard painter into the architect of the greatest worldwide genocideIt turned a short Frenchman into a powerful emperor that dominated European political and military life for two decades.It transformed a Harvard drop-out student into a shrewd businessman, whose Windows® operating system now runs the vast majority of personal computers throughout the world.Charisma is something we all know but can hardly explain. Managers learn that they need charisma to become successful; politicians are taught that a charismatic leadership is the pathway to success.This essay will address the concept of charisma itself as well as some of the most common areas of controversy linked to it.Is there a way to learn to be charismatic?Is charisma always a good thing? What kind of influence it has on others?2. EARLY CONCEPTIONS OF CHARISMA AND CHARISMATIC LEADERSHIPCharisma is a Greek word, meaning "divinely inspired gift", such as the ability of performing miracles or predicting future events.The German sociologist Max Weber, whose early writings are considered to be the most influential on the subject, defined charisma as a form of influence based on a follower's perception that a leader possesses exceptional qualities, rather than as a formal authority.In his view, charismatic leaders display a remarkable self-confidence and a strong self-determination. They are likely to have a strong conviction in the moral righteousness of their own beliefs. Moreover, their subordinates see them as unconventional, risk-taking, visionary and exemplary.According to Weber, charismatic leaders emerge with their vision during a period of exceptional crisis, and by providing a solution to that crisis, attract their followers who believe in their leader's vision and who perceive him as extraordinary.A number of sociologists and political scientists have followed the tracks of Weber and attempted to describe charisma and to identify the conditions under which it flourishes.The theory of House identifies specific traits for charismatic leaders and behaviors as well as the influence that such leaders have on their followers. For him, charismatic leaders are likely to have a strong need for power, high self-confidence and a strong conviction in their own beliefs and ideals.While the need for power results in attempts to influence the others, self-confidence and strong conviction usually generate the followers' trust and belief in the sound judgment of the leader.The following behaviors were regarded to be typical of charismatic leaders: impression management, articulation of an appealing vision, communication of high expectations, and expression of confidence in followers.In a study using so called personality adjectives, charismatic leaders, in contrast with non charismatic leaders, were found to be enthusiastic, outgoing, imaginative, enterprising, competent and wise.Thus,...

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