Peter Drucker on Charismatic Leadership

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Warren Miller, CPA, CFA
Strategy Consultant, United States

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. In one sentence, he demolished the whole construct. Here's approximately what he said:
charismatic leadership is non-leadership because the charisma of the leader blinds his followers to the absence of substance in his message... Until it's too late.
Every time I hear a CEO or other individual referred to as a "charismatic leader," I (1) duck and (2) put my hand on my wallet. charisma is incredibly dangerous stuff. It ranks right up there with the kool-aid quaffed by Jim Jones's deranged followers in Jonestown.
There is a line between charismatic leadership and inspirational leadership. The former is, indeed, all about the leader. We've seen a continuous reminder of that since jan. 20, 2009. It's scary.

  Vincent Miholic
Manager, United States

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