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History of charismatic leadership

History of charismatic leadership
  • In medieval times, leadership was mostly based on tradition. Most people never met their leaders and leadership was legitimized by the divine right of kings - charisma was not needed.
  • The 19th and the 20th century were full of charismatic leaders. Technological (newspaper, radio, and TV) allowed leaders to transport their charisma over long distances.
  • Our current globalized world and access to social media have led to another rise in charismatic leaders. On Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, many people support leaders solely based on their charisma.

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Max Weber defined 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.”

  • It is unimportant whether charismatic leaders possess the qualities that their followers attribute to them.
  • The definition of charismatic leadership is unconcerned with the political goals of a leader.
  • It is unimportant whether the majority considers a leader charismatic. It only matters what their followers think. 

Most of the dangers of the charismatic movement relate to this power.

  • Charismatic leaders lose support more quickly than other types of leaders.
  • They have to clearly be the best person for the job at hand – always and in any situation. This is why they often engage in a cult of personality and become resistant to criticism.
  • Things that charismatic leaders do to maintain their power are precisely the things that diminish it when their business, country, or other undertaking encounters problems.
  • When charismatic leaders use their position to motivate their followers to do things they would not normally do, the followers often feel betrayed once they suspect that they might not get the expected payoff. 
  • They often eventually take the praise of their followers too seriously and show narcissistic traits. They consider criticism as disobedience and expect total loyalty. 

Try to use as much charisma as you need, but avoid making charisma your main focus or your only focus. While attracting people through charisma might be your only option, you have to back this charisma up with the quality leadership based on values and principle that allow your followers to believe in the system more than in your charisma.

Only then, can you stand a chance of establishing a functioning and long-term leadership.

  • Have a non-material goal and vision that truly motivates you and your team
  • Put your supporters before yourself. Praise them, help them succeed. Put them ahead of your own goals.
  • Communicate your thoughts, hopes, and goals to your followers.

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RELATED IDEAS

  • They are skilled at articulating a compelling vision that inspires followers.
  • They read the environment and sense the needs of followers to tailor a message that will have the most impact.
  • They are good storytellers who use symbolism and metaphor to make stories come alive.
  • They display deep belief in the promise and possibilities of the organization
  • They show sense of optimism for the probability of success.
  • They have the will  to take personal risks and make sacrifices to turn the vision into reality

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IDEAS

Charismatic leaders

Charismatic leaders bring out our best and make us excel. Research shows that those following charismatic leaders perform better, find their work more meaningful, and have more trust in their leaders that those who follow non-charismatic leaders.

Charismatic leaders cause followers to become highly committed to the leader's mission and make personal sacrifices by mastering the art and science of personal magnetism.

The romance of leadership hypothesis suggests we tend to gravitate towards the magnetic, narcissistic leaders.

We get the leaders we deserve, and we can do real good by choosing socialized charismatic leaders over narcissists.