Charismatic Leadership
(Weber)

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The Tripartite Classification of Authority. Explanation of Charismatic Leadership of Weber and others. ('22)

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Charismatic Leader Mahatma GandhiWhat is Charismatic Leadership? Description

Charismatic Leadership is defined by Max Weber as "resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him". He defines Charisma as "a certain quality of an individual personality, by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities. These are such as are not accessible to the ordinary person, but are regarded as of divine origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them the individual concerned is treated as a leader (...). How the quality in question would be ultimately judged from an ethical, aesthetic, or other such point of view is naturally indifferent for the purpose of definition".


Charismatic people have a remarkable ability to distill complex ideas into simple messages ("I have a dream"); they communicate by using symbols, analogies, metaphors and stories. Furthermore they relish risk and feel empty without it, they are great optimists, they are rebels who fight convention, and they may seem idiosyncratic.


Charismatic leaders are pictured as organizational heroes or magic leaders who have the social power basis to orchestrate turnarounds, launch new enterprises, inspire organizational renewal, and obtain extraordinary performance from organizational members. These leaders inspire trust, faith and belief in themselves. Of course none of this is a guarantee that the mission will be correct, ethical, or successful.
 

Origin of the Charismatic Leadership model. History

German Sociologist Max Weber distinguished back in the 1920's three ideal types of leadership, domination and authority:

  1. Charismatic domination (familial and religious),
  2. Feudal / Traditional domination (patriarchs, patrimonalism, feudalism), and
  3. Bureaucratic / Legal domination (modern law and state, bureaucracy).

Robert House (1977) used four phrases to define charismatic leadership:

  1. Dominant.
  2. Strong desire to influence others.
  3. Self-confident.
  4. Strong sense of one’s own moral values.

Conger & Kanungo (1998) describe five behavioral attributes of Charismatic Leaders:

  1. Vision and articulation.
  2. Sensitivity to the environment.
  3. Sensitivity to member needs.
  4. Personal risk taking.
  5. Performing unconventional behavior.

Most recently charisma is being characterized as theatrical (Gardner & Alvolio, 1998): charismatic leadership is an impression management process enacted theatrically in acts of framing, scripting, staging, and performing. Compare also: EPIC ADVISERS.


Usage of the Charismatic Leadership style. Applications

  • In difficult times or circumstances, such as an urgent organizational turnaround. Compare: Crisis Management.
  • Note that according to Weber, a charismatic leader does not have to be a positive force. Both Mahatma Gandhi and Adolf Hitler could be reasonably considered charismatic leaders. Compare: Servant-Leadership
  • See Core Groups theory for some of the mechanisms behind charismatic leadership.

Steps in Charismatic Leadership approach. Process

Jay Conger (1989) proposed the following four-stage model of charismatic leadership:

  1. Continual assessment of the environment and formulating a vision.
  2. Communication of vision, using motivational and persuasive arguments.
  3. Building trust and commitment. subordinates must desire and support the goals of the leader and this is likely to be accomplished by more than coercion; rather the leader builds trust in the leader and the viability of the goals; this is likely to be done through personal risk taking, unconventional expertise, and self-sacrifice.
  4. Achieving the vision. Using Role modeling, empowerment, and unconventional tactics.

Strengths of Charismatic Leadership style. Benefits

  • Results in relatively strong, unchallenged levels of obedience.
  • Useful in difficult times or circumstances, such as an urgent organizational turnaround. Compare: Crisis Management.
  • Effective. If the charismatic leader's vision is right, this leadership style can be extremely effective.
  • Rhetorical ability. Compare: Framing.
  • Energetic, inner clarity, visionary, unconventional, and exemplary.

Limitations of Charismatic Leadership style. Disadvantages

  • Results in relatively strong, unchallenged levels of obedience. Tendency of gathering weak "yes-men" around him. Poor delegation.
  • People possessing these skills and attributes are relatively rare.
  • Tendency to narcissism. Losing reality. Insensitive to others. Compare: Seven Signs Of Ethical Collapse
  • Lack of accountability. Freedom from inner (moral) conflicts. The values of charismatic leaders are essential. If such leaders are well-intentioned towards others, they can elevate and transform an entire company. But if they are selfish or poor, they can create cults and effectively rape the minds of the followers.
  • Unpredictable. Potentially dangerous.



Charismatic Leadership Forum (18 topics) Help
  Peter Drucker on Charismatic Leadership  - In the late 1980s, I watched an hour-long interview with Peter Drucker. He was asked what he thought of 'charismatic leadership.' I will paraphrase his reply because I've referred to it many times in the last 20+ years, especially since jan. 20, 2009...      
  How Charismatic Leadership is Perceived in Diiferent Societies  - I suppose that charismatic leadership has a different meaning in different societies and organizations.
1. In a society, coming from dictatorial and one-man-leadership, a charismatic leader will have the abilities as mentioned, but with t...
     
  Personal Suffering by Charismatic Leader  - One element which enhances charisma is personal suffering undergone by the charismatic leader. This aspect is often not considered explicitly by researchers but it is very important as increases bonding between the leader and the followers....      
  Organisational Chart of a Charismatic Authority  - Colleagues can anyone suggests an org. chart used in a charismatic organisation?...      
  Ethical Behavior Crucial in Charisma  - Almost every political leader has its own charismatic attitude in certain situations. However, without moral or ethical behavior in the implementation of policies, we can not speak of charismatic leadership. Because without this, no charisma s...      
  Charismatic Leadership versus Inspirational Leadership  - There is a difference between charismatic leadership and inspirational leadership: while inspirational leaders have charisma and charismatic leaders inspire their followers, the main distinction is that in charismatic leadership the leadership rel...      
  The Way Out of Charismatic Leadership. Transition  - Throughout the world we are seeing charismatic leaders suffering the penalty of not quiting whilst they were ahead. The failure to implement a transition to a balanced normality always seems to be the problem.
To be a charismatic l...
     
  Goal Oriented, Involving and Engaging Leadership  - In their article 'Assessing Leadership Styles and Organisational Context', Victor Dulewicz and Malcolm Higgs (Journal of Managerial Psychology, 2005, Vol. 20 Iss: 2, pp.105 - 123) group leadership into three categories:
1. Goal-oriented L...
     
  Female Charismatic Leaders  - Are there or have there been any female charismatic leaders in past or recent history, or is this mostly a male dominated type of leadership?...      
  Charismatic and Toxic Leadership  - The difference between a charismatic leader and a toxic leader (Lipman-Blumen) can be a narrow one. The recent banking crisis has shown us that a narrow circle of charismatics can sweep others into unethical patterns of behaviour and excess ca...      
  Charismatic Leadership versus Transformational Leadership  - I understand charismatic leadership. However, when looking at transformational leadership, there is so much integration and similarity that I am struggling to define what seperates the two....      
  Charismatic Leadership Differentiated  - Charisma... Is the distinguishing element of charismatic leadership. Charisma is contagious because of the charm content. Charming people can be very influential. Consequently, charismatic leaders are influential because charisma elicts emotio...      
  Charismatic Leaders are Trait-driven: Neo-charismatic Theory of Leadership  - A trait is a tendency you have most probably inherited although it could have been learned.
A behavior is an action.
Here is an example. Let's say you get impatient in traffic. That is a trait. Once you yell at somebody, that ...
     
  Conducive Circumstances to Charismatic Leadership  - Charismatic leadership is a big advantage when it comes to very complex social situation where people strength is the key. The leader inspires the masses with contemporary ideals relevant for the society and the objectivity of unity is met....      
  Disadvantages of Charismatic Leadership  - One of the minus points of charismatic leadership is that the whole environment is not conducive for personal development. Either deliberately or otherwise, charismatic leaders tend to act as a block for upcoming talents. This is one of the ...      
  Know the Way, Show the Way and Go the Way...  - A CHARISMATIC LEADER is the one who: Knows the Way, Shows the Way and Goes the Way!...      
  Current Charismatic Leaders  - Who, at the present moment do you consider to be prominent charismatic leaders in the world today? Why?...      
  Zuma: Charismatic Leader?  - Is president Zuma a charismatic leader or not?...      



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Compare with Charismatic Leadership: EPIC ADVISERS  |  Seven Surprises  |  Leadership Styles  |  Hagberg Model of Personal Power  |  Leadership Continuum  |  Level 5 Leadership  |  Servant-Leadership  |  Path-Goal Theory  |  Theory X Theory Y  |  Bases of Social Power  |  Seven Habits  |  Results-Based Leadership  |  Situational Leadership  |  Ashridge Mission Model  |  Framing  |  Crisis Management


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