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Charismatic leadership is a type of leadership that is often associated with solid and inspiring personalities. Charismatic leaders can influence people to buy into their vision and follow them passionately.
While there is no one-size-fits-all definition of charismatic leadership, certain traits, such as charisma, passion, confidence, and the ability to inspire others, are often associated with it.
Learning about charismatic leadership can be a great place to start if you’re looking to improve your leadership skills.
Charismatic leadership (Definition)
Charismatic leadership refers to a leader with specific personality characteristics that appeal to the followers. In business, these leaders are often looked up to by the employees, who believe in their abilities and want to exceed under them.
What is a Charismatic Leadership Style?
There are many leadership styles, and Charismatic leadership is also a style of leadership. Charismatic leaders focus on inspiring and influencing others. People viewed as charismatic leaders are often preferred for their inspirational qualities rather than their technical skills.
Technique matters less to charisma than does the force of personality. The concept can be challenging to pin down because it varies depending on the context in which it is used. While it’s helpful to think of charisma as a leadership style, it can be better understood by looking at how these leaders and their communities fit together.
Charisma is a feeling and a relationship between two people: the “charismatic” leader and their followers. The leader has something special that sets them apart from the rest of the group. However, this “something” can vary greatly depending on perspective.
To an outside observer, charisma is often associated with unusual charm and personal magnetism—the ability to influence, inspire, motivate, or enthrall others. By contrast, the leader is often regarded as an individual chosen by God or the divine to lead the group inside a charismatic community. As a result, believers may want more of a relationship with God than before.
Several studies have explored how charisma manifests within groups, suggesting three critical components of a charismatic leader: personal attributes, unique behaviors, and group norms. To be viewed as charismatic, leaders often demonstrate exceptional personal characteristics (e.g., honesty, integrity, talent, strength) and exhibit unique behaviors that are not the norm for others in the group (e.g., dressing differently than everyday, speaking powerfully)
People consider charismatic leaders to establish relationships with their subordinates based on respect and equality, not power. They typically have group norms that support their goals rather than their interests. There are many other leadership styles, but we never underestimate the power of this leadership style.
Related: 16 Leadership Styles
What is a Characteristic of Charismatic Leaders?
Charismatic leaders can read a room and adapt their message accordingly. They know when to be serious, funny, etc. This ability is what sets apart a good leader from a great leader. Charisma is also essential for influencing people, especially those who agree on most issues. Below are some characteristics that can help you bring Charismatic Leadership into your Workplace.
Top 10 characteristics of charismatic leaders
Here I list down ten traits of charismatic leaders below:
1. Inspirational and Enthusiastic (Energy)
Charismatic leaders motivate and inspire people. A charismatic leader knows how to get the best out of others without micro-managing them or using complex techniques.
All great leaders have high energy levels. They are enthusiastic and able to lift other people around them. It is contagious; they can create the right environment for success by engaging people’s hearts and minds.
2. Charisma Makes Leaders Attractive and Likeable
Being liked is more important for being an effective leader than being respected or feared. People follow you based on their feelings, not what they think about you. Therefore, it is possible that you can be highly thought of but not liked by other people.
A leader can have a very magnetic personality and influence the people around them by the sheer force of their charm. People are attracted to charismatic leaders because they share similar values, so being likable is very important to support your vision from others.
People trust an attractive leader more. This is because they can think outside the box and develop creative ideas essential for success.
3. They Are Confident Without Being Arrogant
Confidence is vital so that people will follow you because they trust you have their best interests at heart. Charismatic leaders are confident without being arrogant or overbearing, and they don’t need to show off or boast about their accomplishments because it will undermine others’ sense of self-worth.
They are secure enough to share power with other people, ask questions and listen intently to what’s being said by acknowledging someone’s point of view. A charismatic leader is confident but not overconfident. If a person is overconfident, they will not learn from their mistakes, but if they are underconfident, they will find it hard to believe in themselves and their abilities.
4. They Know How To Communicate Effectively
Effective communication is vital for an effective leader because this determines how people think and feel about the world around them. If you have a poor communication style or bad listening skills, your leadership ability will be hindered as trust levels between you and your followers decrease dramatically.
A charismatic leader knows how to connect with other people emotionally so that people would willingly follow their vision without feeling resentful or being coerced into it. They don’t just speak about their vision but infuse it with passion and energy so that people will want to be a part of it.
5. They Have Vision And A Plan For The Future
Without a clear vision, where do you want to go? How would you know if you’re going in the right direction? Without a plan, there’s no way of knowing if your actions are effective at achieving your goals or not. People often follow leaders because they believe they have a clear vision for the future and learn how to get there.
They have a clear vision and a plan for the future; they can articulate their vision in a way people can relate to, which motivates them to achieve it. Their ability to communicate their vision effectively often differentiates a charismatic leader from a regular manager or someone who wants everyone else to do the work. A true visionary must inspire others with their words, and by doing so, people will follow them through thick and thin.
6. Charismatic Leaders Are Inspiring
Being inspiring is not just something you can turn on when you feel like it, or your audience is large enough. It is based on life experiences that make you more aware of your world. To be an inspiring leader, you need to inspire others with your actions; words can help achieve that goal.
Charismatic leaders don’t just talk about their vision but show it in action by setting an example for others to follow. They give people a sense of purpose that resonates with them and believe in the cause to inspire others to join in or contribute.
Charismatic leaders understand how emotions work and know what’s important to different people, such as family vs. career and individual needs vs. organizational expectations. As a result, they are not afraid to confront reality when it comes down too hard upon them and their teams so they can take the necessary steps towards improving the situation together.
7. Charismatic Leaders Know How To Handle Negativity And Conflict
Being in a position of power doesn’t always mean everyone likes you. No matter how charismatic and well-liked you are, there will always be people who won’t like you or your decisions. If you can’t handle criticism or negativity from others, it shows that you lack emotional intelligence and the ability to see things beyond black and white thinking.
As a leader, one must learn to accept and handle constructive criticism to improve what needs to be done better. A good leader can handle conflict and knows when to step away before it gets out of control. They can understand their emotions and adapt to whatever situation they are in.
8. They Are Empathetic
Empathy is the ability to see things from other people’s perspectives, essential when managing a team or interpersonal interactions. If you can get inside someone else’s head, even if it means putting yourself in their shoes for a moment, you’ll be able to connect with them on an emotional level that will foster trust and respect for your character.
It also allows you to learn more about them and better relate to what they’re going through. Being empathetic doesn’t mean you have to accept everything at face value; it helps you understand how others feel about working things together.
Mean charismatic leadership relies on others as well rather than only on self. A great leader is not just charismatic but empathetic as well. They get to know their team members and help them achieve what they want without making them feel like a cog in the machine.
9. They are Clear Communicators
As mentioned earlier, charismatic leaders are very skilled communicators who articulate their vision effectively. As a result, people can easily relate and connect with them for the organization’s greater good. Therefore, you need strong communication skills and learn to communicate your thoughts and ideas to resonate with people more effectively.
An idea is not enough for them to see things your way. You have to make sure they understand what’s in it for them and why they should support the cause instead of holding back or criticizing every step of the way.
Communicating also means picking up on essential cues from others without judgment and detaching yourself emotionally from any given situation before making decisions ultimately in everyone’s best interest.
10. They Are Visionary
The ability to think ahead and imagine things differently from others stuck in their old ways makes charismatic leaders visionary. They can see what others can’t because their decisions are not made from a limited point of view. They can take a step back and look at the bigger picture instead of just looking at whatever is right in front of them that’s happening today.
For organizations to survive beyond the competition, you need team members who think outside the box to continuously improve things for better results without being too complacent with what you have going for yourself. A good leader should be a visionary because it allows them to learn more about themselves and the people around them to adapt accordingly to certain situations.
Related: 5 Levels of Leadership
Advantages and Disadvantages of Charismatic leadership
Some of the benefits and drawbacks of this type of leadership are listed below.
Advantages of Charismatic leadership
1) Commitment – Charismatic leaders positively influence attitudes toward organizations by inspiring trust, commitment, and identification.
2) Performance – charismatic leadership focuses on positivity and is associated with increased performance in the short term. This is accomplished through follower motivation, resulting in more significant effort and engagement in organizational activities. Longer-term benefits include improved retention rates, higher levels of job satisfaction among followers, lower levels of turnover among top talent, and greater attraction and selection of new employees.
3) Learning and Knowledge Sharing – Charismatic leaders rely on learning and encourage followers to share knowledge and experience, allowing the organization to improve rapidly.
4) Organizational change – This type of leader can be an effective mechanism of organizational change. This is due to charismatic leadership’s emphasis on personal empowerment and learning from mistakes.
5) Innovation – Charismatic leadership can encourage an open exchange of ideas. This is because followers and leaders share similar values and beliefs, making both feel safe proposing creative solutions to problems.
Disadvantages of Charismatic leadership
1) Organizational dependence on Charisma – A charismatic organization may become so dependent upon its leader’s skills and methods that it fails to learn from mistakes and missed opportunities.
2) Tunnel-vision/Arrogance – When charisma overrides other forms of social control, charismatic leaders may fail to listen carefully to followers and “develop a myopic vision of the organization’s members’ capabilities and capacities.”
3) Personal Problems – Charisma, by definition, requires a high degree of personal magnetism. If someone does not have this charisma or cannot handle it effectively, they will not lead an organization based on it.
4) Dependency – Charismatic leadership can produce overly dependent organizations on their charismatic leaders. These organizations fail to develop strong internal structures and operation norms, making them vulnerable when the leader leaves or dies suddenly (Bass 2014). This can result in struggling without guidance from its charismatic leader.
5) Declining Effectiveness – The “transient interpersonal chemistry that generates charisma and power” will dissipate over time. As a result, people tire of charismatic individuals and may reject their leadership. This can lead to a decline in an organization’s performance, ultimately harming its public image.
6) Change Resistance – Charisma is often associated with change. However, suppose leaders become too focused on transforming organizations or societies. In that case, they risk becoming so enamored with the idea of revolution that they fail to realize when it has died. Without this realization, these changes will not occur, and people will remain dissatisfied.
Why is charismatic leadership important?
“Charismatic leadership is the best way to lead a company, but too often it leads to disaster.”
This quote sums up the opinions of many scholars and leaders about the prevalence of charismatic leadership in businesses today. Of course, it is understandable why so many people think this way, considering the notorious abuses of charismatic leaders such as Adolf Hitler and Jim Jones. Still, the truth is that many successful businesses today use charismatic leadership successfully.
This type of leadership has many positive aspects that cannot be overlooked. They are an essential strategy for any company to utilize if they wish to succeed and carry out its mission.
As Peter Northouse states in his article, “Charismatic leadership has been conceptualized as a type of transformational leadership that involves the ability to influence followers through inspiration, motivation, and vision” (Northouse). Everyone loves to be inspired, to feel motivated, and to be able to believe in a dream.
Difference between Charismatic and Transformational leaders
A charismatic leader is a natural-born leader because they have an innate ability to influence and control others. In addition, they are often seen as very forward, persuasive, and passionate with their ideas, and people flock toward them. An example of such a person would be Nelson Mandela, who was influential both in South Africa and across the globe for his ideas.
A transformational leader has the qualities of a charismatic leader who influences others and is highly passionate about their ideas. However, these characteristics can also raise awareness of important issues within an organization or community and drive change.
Also, transformational leaders rely on a shared vision to create change, while Charismatic leaders rely on their personality and talents to motivate people to act. You may observe that charismatic and transformational leadership have several qualities in common.
Related: Management Styles
It is often difficult to pinpoint precisely what makes a leader charismatic, but certain charisma traits seem to be associated with charisma. Therefore, if you want your leaders and managers to have the power of a charismatic personality, consider implementing these leadership qualities into their work style or position description.
There are also many different types of leadership. Some leadership methods, for example, democratic leadership, concentrate on the development of individuals. Others, such as bureaucratic leadership, are more concerned with current processes and hierarchies.
What type of leadership do you think best fits your company culture? Let us know in the comment section.
Related: Democratic Leadership