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Leader Characteristics Essay

1744 words - 7 pages

Leader Characteristics

Charismatic leadership is one of four subdivisions of the larger concept of transformational leadership (Bass, 1990). Charismatic leaders are self-confident, dominant, purposeful, articulate, influential, idealistic, and expressive. They have high energy levels, strong convictions, the ability to display empathy, and are risk takers (Bass, 1990). By stimulating "ailing corporations, revitalizing aging bureaucracies or launching new enterprises" (Howell and Avolio, 1995), charismatic leaders demonstrate how truly effective they can be. These leaders are often described as visionaries, with a strong sense of the future and a passion for their vision. They are able to achieve the vision by developing strategies to accomplish the long term goals associated with the vision.

Expressiveness is an important quality in charismatic leaders. Charismatic leaders can utilize nonverbal cues "to move, inspire, or captivate others" (quoted in Bass, 1990). According to Bass (1990) the charismatic's "tone of voice is engaging and captivating, and their facial expressions are animated." Charismatics must convey an aura of complete self-confidence. This self-confidence enables them to become "larger than life" (Bass, 1990) in the eyes of their followers. Another quality attributed to charismatics is eloquence. In order to reach the audience, he must possess the ability to speak directly to them. The message has to reach the audience in a fundamental way, a way which addresses their needs. High energy levels are necessary for a charismatic to be successful. This allows the leader to "relentlessly promote their beliefs with boundless energy" (Howell and Avolio, 1995). Bass (1990) also notes that charismatic leaders are simply "more active." This high energy level helps convey the message that the leader can get the job done. Charismatic leaders are risk takers. They develop highly innovative approaches to problems. They are not afraid to "challenge established practices" (Nur, 1998).

Another aspect of charismatic leadership is the effect the leader has on his followers. The charismatic leader develops good communication with his followers. He works with them so that they actively contribute to and develop the vision; the vision then becomes the property not only of the leader but of his followers. Once they have this buy-in, the followers are willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to achieve the vision. The charismatic leader has the "ability to inspire extraordinary performance in his followers" (Howell and Avolio, 1995). Bass (1990), states that the charismatic leader has the ability to turn "dormant followers into active ones." Charismatic leaders arouse "trust, faith and belief in the leader" (Howell and Avolio, 1995). They also move their followers to become leaders in their own right. But most of all, charismatic leaders inspire a deep devotion in their followers. The effect they have on their followers seems to be...

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