Various leadership styles govern people in a community or organization. The choice of the leadership style to use depends on several factors such as culture, resources, population, and environment. Leaders identify relevant factors affecting their followers and adopt appropriate leadership styles. Let us know more about that the Charismatic leadership-know more.
With the charismatic leadership style, the person possesses charisma, which he uses to lead his people. Charisma is the innate ability to attract loyalty or devotion from others with little or no effort. There is a drawing of followers to such a leader due to his emotional appeal. They also prefer his decisions and actions. Let us review this leadership style and establish its powerful impact on followers.
Qualities of a Charismatic Leader
He has impeccable interpersonal skills. This innate ability causes people to be naturally attracted to him. He uses this ability to advance his goals and obtain favor from the population. This skill helps him convey important information to his followers and receive necessary feedback from them.
Closely related to his superb communication skills is persuasion. He knows what and when to say something to gain a massive following. He completely understands and advantageously uses mob psychology to gain popularity.
He exudes power and stability when you encounter him. His body language alone conveys authority to those surrounding him. It is because he is aware of the influence he has over people.
The charismatic leader is calculative and strategic. He is extremely cautious when making decisions and actions. He values public reputation and takes extra care to preserve it. He remains grounded with goals and objectives. Swaying him from his initial goals and objectives is not easy.
He constantly acquires information from diverse sources to maintain his influence on the masses. He spends a lot of time studying his group to be several steps ahead of them. He is very much aware of his surroundings and people.
He embraces technological advancements and new ways of doing things. He also encourages changes in the community and organizations. He prefers liberal policies and procedures. He constantly thinks of the future and ways of improving it. Furthermore, he often desires exploration and discoveries, which keeps him energized and alert.
He has no tolerance for any opposition, enjoys power and authority found in communities and organizations. He will also protect his revered position. He tends to seek out and eliminate opposing forces. It makes him appear or become oppressive in the end.
The charismatic leader does not retreat from aggressive forces. He is willing to engage his competition in the community and organization. He always wants to be the winner and leader. He puts every effort into activities that will help him perform better than his competitors. He will identify the competitor’s weakness and manipulates it to his advantage.
He is an outstanding member of the community or organization. He adheres to rules and regulations better than most people do. He also believes in law and order for peaceful coexistence. He observes high ethical and professional standards than most people. It enhances his positive public image and authority.
The charismatic leader not only cares about his power but also about his people. He derives power from his people, and he is fully aware of this. It makes him remain sensitive to their well-being. He is conversant with their needs and wants. He tries to fulfill their desires to remain relevant and popular.
Types of Charismatic Leadership
There are two main types of charismatic leadership. We can differentiate them by the way the person uses their power and authority in society.
Personalized Charismatic Leadership
The charismatic leader aims to advance personal interests in the community or organization. He wants to accumulate power and wealth for themselves. He desires complete authority in the community and organization. He also eliminates opposition or competition for self-sustaining purposes. He dislikes people who challenge him about his choices, decisions, and actions. He will camouflage his need for self-preservation by supporting popular beliefs in the community and organization. He meets the felt needs and wants of the population to gain favor, which amasses power and wealth on him. To avoid controversy, this leader tends to follow the population’s desires instead of implementing his agendas. He will not destabilize the current situation in the community and organization, as it favors him, not necessarily, because it is the right thing. He seeks fame and favor from everyone.
Socialized Charismatic Leadership
This type of charismatic leader is selfless. He is philanthropic and empathizes with his followers. He also values human rights and social justice. He believes in equal opportunities and self-actualization for all people. He desires to improve the living standards and well-being of everyone in the community and organization. His ultimate goal is to empower the followers. He derives satisfaction when his people succeed from his activist efforts. He does not like witnessing his people suffering in communities and organizations. His mission is to eliminate human suffering in one way or another. He will often compromise his status and life in the process of “saving” others. He is also willing to take the “heat” for the sake of others, which ensures community and organization systems fulfill the needs of the people. Furthermore, he discourages divisive practices and emphasizes harmonious interactions.
Advantages of Charismatic Leadership
The charismatic leader often tries to experience issues from the people’s perspective. It helps in developing effective strategies and practices that improve the well-being of the population. He frequently communicates with the followers to obtain their views concerning issues affecting them. He acquires information from practical visits to the communities and through research efforts initiated by his team.
The charismatic leader is concerned about the well-being of his people. It drives him to develop policies and procedures, which will improve the living standards of the population. Eventually, it reduces related problems that are affecting the followers. He will also change the mindset of the followers to increase the self-esteem and independence of the population.
The charismatic leader will always involve people in decision-making and actions since he seeks fame. He also wants to develop and implement appropriate solutions. In organizations, employee engagement levels increase when they are involved in the decision-making process. They become part of the change and development process. They give feedback on the appropriate systems and structures required to improve the working environment.
The charismatic leader will always want to appear or be fair. He derives satisfaction from his followers. He derives power and authority from his followers, which makes him more sensitive to the needs of others. He shows compassion towards his followers. He ensures legal and ethical frameworks are working effectively to address problems faced in the communities and organizations.
The charismatic leader draws followers naturally. The followers’ attraction will increase further when they perceive that he has their best interests at heart. It improves the community or working environment. As a result, the followers or employees remain loyal to him and the group or organization.
When people are satisfied with their working conditions or environment, they naturally develop an attachment to the community or organization. It makes them want to benefit the community and organization. It translates to better individual performance and productivity.
The charismatic leader is influential, and what he says often goes! If he ascribes to a given standpoint, the followers ascribe to it too. None of the followers attempts or wants to oppose him as he is revered and favored. Since everyone is on his side, conflict with him or others in the group or organization is limited.
He improves the chances of achieving desired plans as he commands a huge following and is very persuasive. Eventually, it translates to high levels of performance and acceptance in communities and organizations. Chances of this leader failing to meet his goals and objectives are minimal since he is determined to assert his power and authority.
The charismatic leader is an effective change agent. His excellent interpersonal skills help in persuading followers to adopt new ways of doing things. He commands respect and integrity, which makes the people easily trust him. Being a proponent of innovation, he will develop and implement policies and procedures that foster development.
The charismatic leader always stays the course and motivates others to do so too. He is devoted to a given plan of action and his followers. He possesses integrity and the focus that fuels it. He also protects his followers as much as possible from problems or aggressors.
Disadvantages of Charismatic Leadership
Depending on the type of charismatic leadership adopted, personalized leaders can misuse their influence. In a bid to self-preserve their power and authority, he will come across as controlling. He eliminates opposition and competitors to this end.
Not all group members will buy into this leader’s philosophy, and often, this is a minority part of the population. It can easily lead to divisions in the community or organization since followers want to maintain the status quo, and the opposition wants to bring change in the community or organization. In many instances, violent activities have ensued between opposition and followers.
He is fully aware of the almost supernatural influence, which he asserts over followers. As a result, he can easily mislead the followers. It is especially true with religious groups that have a charismatic leader; he appears divine and immortal. It is a dangerous and vulnerable position for the followers. For instance, the charismatic leader can instruct his followers to perform unethical and illegal activities. Out of reverence for him, they undertake these activities at their peril.
A charismatic leader can be too idealistic in a bid to gain popularity. As a result, he avoids confronting his followers with reality. He plays along with their unrealistic demands since he seeks favor and fame. Furthermore, he has the potential of “building castles in the air” in a bid to “entertain” his followers even though it is not beneficial in any way. It wastes valuable time and resources meant for development activities.
The followers cannot fully explain the attraction to the charismatic leader. He may go undetected for lack of skill since nobody is interrogating him. Who would dare investigate a revered and favored person with unexplained influence? The followers “feel and sense” that he is the right fit merely because they are attracted to him, not because he is in the position by merit.
The charismatic leader can yield extreme power and authority. Any leadership position requires checks and balances to ensure that it does not corrupt or endanger communities and organizations. This leader will often bypass the checks and balances. It gives them uncontrollable influence, easily manipulated for selfish reasons.
Misappropriation of Resources
The charismatic leader can easily influence the misuse of resources, whether in the community or organization. Due to the excessive power in any setting, he makes decisions and takes actions without opposition. It is negative since he will tend to work in isolation and advance his interests. Eventually, it leads to debt accumulation.
The followers are in a state of confusion in the absence of charismatic leaders. They are “lost” without his guidance or influence. He holds the dream and “keys” for unlocking this potential; he influences society and not his people. Furthermore, he is the only one who is confident and not his people. Any directional pull is with this leader. The followers depend on the leader for advice and direction since “he is all-knowing.”
In these communities and organizations succession, planning is practically impossible. Getting someone with this almost supernatural influence is like looking for “a needle in a haystack.” Replicating the personality and impact of such a person is a challenging task.
The charismatic leadership style is too flexible and unstable because everyone is dependent on the leader, and succession planning is complex. In addition, the leader’s influence reduces quickly due to the emotional aspect. The followers may experience an awakening, which means they stop believing in the person. Only the emotional appeal sustains this leadership in society. Therefore, these leaders need to acquire additional skills.
Famous Charismatic Leaders
She was an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic who attained the status of a saint according to the religious practices of the Roman Catholic Church, a catholic nun, and a missionary. She lived from 1910 to 1997. She spent most of her life in Calcutta, India. Her focus throughout her life was on the poor and dying people in her surroundings. She did a lot to help them earning herself a Nobel peace prize in 1979 for her philanthropic efforts in the world.
He lived from 1926 to 2016 in Cuba. He served as a revolutionary paramilitary leader. He also became the Prime Minister and later the President of Cuba from 1959 to 2008. His goal was to transform Cuba from a capitalist to a socialist nation to create equality in society. He was responsible for ousting the then President Batista in a revolution that led to his own Presidency.
He served for two terms as the British Prime Minister. The first term was from 1940 to 1945 during the Second World War, and the second term was from 1951 to 1955. He lived from 1864 to 1965 in the United Kingdom. He was responsible for leading his country through the Second World War amidst apparent defeat from the Germans. He endured treacherous actions from German leadership. However, he managed to motivate the British to defeat their worst foe. His communication style kept his forces and people optimistic. His warfare strategy and determination brought success to his country.
She lived from 1925 to 2013 in the United Kingdom. She earned the title of a Baroness, and she was the British Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990. She was the first woman to hold this office, and she did the job for the longest time compared to others in this position. People were fond of referring to her as the “iron lady” due to her devotion and authoritative persona. She was a proponent of conservatism and improved the British economy through liberal approaches such as the free market, privatization, and curtailed trade unionism.
Martin Luther King Junior
He was the most outspoken leader and spokesperson of the American civil rights movement from 1955 to 1968. He lived from 1929 to 1968 in America, opposing racism and segregation towards the African-Americans in America. He also wanted justice, freedom, and equality for minority groups. He initiated peaceful protests and public rallies to create awareness of these issues. In addition, he gained a lot of followers and popularity in a short period. The American government introduced new laws to address the inequality issues due to mounting pressure. He received the Nobel peace prize for his efforts in 1964.
He lived from 1925 to 1965 in America, and he was a Muslim activist focused on the civil rights movement. He spoke against racial prejudice and segregation. He was more aggressive in the civil rights movement when compared to Martin Luther King Jr. This radical stand often got him in conflict with law enforcement and Luther’s followers. In addition to the civil rights movement, he was responsible for spreading Islamic Religion in America in the 1950s. He also helped in building mosques in various American cities.
He was the 42nd President of America from 1993 to 2001. He was born in 1946. He was the youngest President to assume office. His time in office had political and economic stability. He accented into law the North American Free Trade Agreement (N.A.F.T.A) and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. He is charismatic since he listens to people who need his attention, and people pay attention to him. He is very persuasive and an excellent communicator.
He lived between 1869 to 1948 in India and South Africa. He was a lawyer turned activist. He led his followers in India to protest against discrimination and unfair land taxes. He also organized peaceful protests to fight various issues. These included women’s rights, poverty, and caste rule, among others. He later became a nationalist initiating peaceful protest to secure national independence for his country. He influenced his followers to put up passive resistance against British rule to achieve independence during the Second World War.
He was the first black South African President from 1994 to 1999. He lived from 1918 to 2013 in South Africa largely. He encouraged his followers to fight against apartheid in South Africa and seek a democratic nation. His oratory skills and determination led his country out of the oppressive apartheid regime in the 1990s. Furthermore, he went through several hardships, including serving a lengthy jail term and family problems to realize this dream. Despite all this, he did not relent; he remained focused and optimistic about a new South Africa.
Charisma is the innate ability to attract loyalty or devotion from followers with little or no effort. It is the emotional appeal a leader has over his followers. A charismatic leader has several qualities or characteristics that make him unique. These qualities are either good or bad, depending on how the leader uses his power and authority. There are two main types of charismatic leaders, socialized and personalized. The former focuses on the people, while the latter focuses more on themselves. Like any other leadership style, charismatic leadership has both advantages and disadvantages. Several famous people have used this type of leadership style knowingly or unknowingly to guide their people out of difficult periods in world history.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is charisma?
It is the innate ability to attract loyalty or devotion from others with little or no effort.
- Who are some of the famous American leaders considered charismatic?
They include Bill Clinton, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr.