What’s it: Charismatic leadership is a leadership style by accentuating charisma to attract and inspire dedication by others. It is an example of a leader-centered style in addition to authoritative and transactional leadership. Leaders believe more in their own vision and abilities than in followers. However, compared to the other two leadership styles, charismatic leaders communicate more with followers.
Examples of charismatic leaders
Soekarno is an example of a charismatic leader. He used powerful speech, a charming personality, and an unwavering commitment. He mobilized the community for positive change, namely Indonesian independence.
Some other examples of charismatic leaders are Martin Luther King. He championed civil rights and eliminated racial discrimination in the United States. On the business, there’s Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric.
Why charismatic leadership is important
Charismatic leaders inspire and motivate followers to commit to a goal. They fit well in an environment where people need the presence of an individual capable of driving and changing the status quo.
Charismatic leadership styles work well during urgent organizational changes. They are also important when organizations undergo fundamental changes. They are very good at motivating followers to do whatever it takes.
In those situations, the leader is considered to have extraordinary abilities. Subordinates and other stakeholders believe the leader brings change for the better. It generates positive energy among the followers. They volunteered to follow orders with high confidence.
Characteristics of charismatic leadership
Charismatic leaders care deeply about their image. For that, they will use various methods to attract and inspire followers. The following are characteristics of charismatic leaders:
- Visioner. Leaders think or plan for the future with wisdom and imagination.
- Creative. Leaders think outside the box, accept challenges, and see them as opportunities.
- Have a strong personality. Leaders exude confidence, have a strong sense of self, and rarely express self-doubt. It attracted many people to follow and carry out their orders.
- Humility. Leaders are sensitive to their environment and to the needs of followers. They are careful not to cause discomfort or hurt others.
- Risk-taker. Leaders dare to take personal risks to realize their vision and lead to better conditions.
- Great communicator. They are adept at using unconventional behavior. They can move a large number of people with just words, speech, or behavior.
- Self-monitoring. Charismatic leaders boast of themselves without which they can find no joy.
- Agent of change. Leaders change the status quo towards a better future.
- Never give up. Leaders are not desperate to achieve their dreams. They are not afraid to fail even though they have to face difficult struggles and challenges, even risking death.
Difference between charismatic leaders and transformational leaders
Some people sometimes equate charismatic leaders with transformational leaders. Indeed, the two have a lot of similarities. But, there are quite fundamental differences between the two.
On the similarities, both emphasize the leader’s decisive role as the center of change. The leader builds a vision and uses it as a foundation to influence and inspire followers. They then motivate individuals or people around them to achieve that vision. They encourage followers to be better and work for the good of the organization or society.
But, the two differ in terms of power points. Charismatic leaders often try to make the status quo better. They build a vision, which then becomes the vision of the followers. Meanwhile, transformational leaders transform organizations through a shared vision and focus on improving and developing all followers.
Charismatic leaders use their charisma and persona to mobilize people towards change. Meanwhile, transformational leaders use a shared vision to do so.
Charismatic leadership strengths and weaknesses
There are many pros to a charismatic leadership style. Here are the details:
- Become a catalyst for change for the better. The leader sells the vision and encourages people to make it happen. They are looking for opportunities to improve things and tend to be dissatisfied with existing ones.
- Build positive energy. It makes followers confident that they are on the right track. They also build optimism and togetherness among followers.
- Build a strong commitment among followers. Thus, followers are united to carry out and realize the leader’s vision. Leaders communicate with followers on a deep emotional level, thereby evoking strong emotions in followers.
But, there are some downsides to charismatic leadership.
- Self-centered. Leaders are too confident with their charisma. They see their vision as the best, although not for some. Take, for example, Soekarno’s national, religious, and communist vision. Most Indonesians disagree because it is not following the foundation of the Indonesian state. Furthermore, charismatic leaders may believe they are above the law, committing financial or ethical violations.
- No regeneration. Leaders cannot pass on their leadership style to others because it is inherent in each individual’s personality. So depending too much on a charismatic leader is not good. If the leader retires or leaves the company, it can seem like it loses its way and may collapse.