Charisma Can Be Dangerous in a Leader

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Charismatic Leadership > Forum > Charisma Can Be Dangerous in a Leader

Charisma Can Be Dangerous in a Leader
Warren Miller, CPA, CFA, United States, Member
Nearly all of the most destructive leaders in history--Stalin, Hitler, Mao, et al.--were highly charismatic leaders. On a PBS program more than thirty years ago, I watched the late management scholar, Peter Drucker, say (I wrote it down!): "Charismatic leadership is non-leadership because the charisma of the leader blinds followers to the absence of substance in the leader's message... until it's too late." That's not to say that all leaders with charisma are bad. They're not. But charisma is a distraction and can be enormously destructive when it trumps substance.

Freudian Remark
Borje Vickberg, Sweden, Member
English is not my mother tounge. I like the remark of Warren Miller. Maybe it takes an American to construct the phrase" it TRUMPS substance", when discussing charisma.

Many Thanks, Borje
Warren Miller, CPA, CFA, United States, Member
Truth be told, the pun was utterly unconscious. But your comment elicited a loud guffaw from me just now, and I do appreciate it!

Charisma Has Its Place in Organisations
Benjamin Motlhabane, Consultant, South Africa, Member
Applied correctly and in appropriate doses, charisma does inspire people and keeps them motivated.
There is a lot of negativity and pessimism that impacts heavily on productivity. Having a charismatic leader or even a colleague does have a positive influence.
Obviously charisma alone is not sufficient. It has to be backed up by solid and inspiring performance. One has to walk the talk in order for people around you to draw strength and inspiration.

What is the Motivation to Become More Charismatic?
Graham Williams, Management Consultant, South Africa, Premium Member
Warren has stated what shouldn't be ignored. Being charismatic 'in a positive way' doesn't change his wisdom.
Let's go back to motive / intent. It is all about motive: being positive, listening, complimenting, using body language - SO THAT you become liked, followed... Emerging leadership models promote relating, benevolence, serving in an almost diametrically-opposite way.
However doing things for self-interest is dangerous in terms of impact on perceived authenticity / other desired characteristics. (Whether the 'mask' portrayed is well-practiced or not).
Sometimes the best balance between positive and negative is to be realistic, honest.
I find the same trap exists in stories - when leaders use a story to convince others what they want them to do for the leader. Somewhat manipulative in order to serve self-interest. Quite contrary to the use of story as a container that is able to convey an opportunity for insight, self-growth - parables for example.

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