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Why Is The Most Charismatic Leadership Also The Most Dangerous One?

Dangers of charismatic leadership

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. 

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Why Is The Most Charismatic Leadership Also The Most Dangerous One?

Why Is The Most Charismatic Leadership Also The Most Dangerous One?

https://blog.mindvalley.com/charismatic-leadership/

blog.mindvalley.com

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Key Ideas

Charismatic Leadership Style

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. 

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.

Dangers of charismatic leadership

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. 

Charisma and 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.

To become a more charismatic leader

  • 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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From positive to negative

5 phases that take place as a leader’s charisma shifts from a positive to a negative quality:

  • The first phase is characterized by the subtle sense on the part of followers that the leader does not want to be questioned.
  • The second stage: sensing the leader's diminished appetite for being questioned or challenged, followers begin to self-censor, asking fewer questions and no longer playing devil's advocate.
  • The third stage: a negative cycle in which compliments and agreement cause leaders to become overconfident. Leaders in this stage create their own sense of reality and become resistant to evidence that they may be incorrect.
  • The fourth stage: Since the leader's views and actions are the only ones that matter, followers reduce their willingness to be proactive. They wait for directions and become passive. Decision making slows down.
  • The fifth stage is characterized by people continuing to follow and ostensibly do only what is necessary but with a deep diminishment in enthusiasm and spirit. 
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Confidence

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Creativity

Charismatic leaders think outside the box and aren’t afraid to push the limits.

While others may see this kind of push as risky, these leaders are the ones leading the way and driving innovation. When a problem arises, leaders don’t see only the difficulties. Instead, they rise to the challenge and see it as an opportunity. In business, this creativity can lead to powerful change and transformation, which can inspire and motivate others.

Vision

"Leadership requires two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate it.” - Simon Sinek 

Because leaders value innovation, they are focused on the future and how they can improve it. They have a dream and direction that motivates and inspires others. 

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Charismatic professionals execute a certain magnetism and presence that automatically lead others to endorse them as leaders.

They have high levels of energy, unconventional behaviour and seem to be doing heroic deeds. We seem to be hardwired to seek and endorse over-glorified 'Superhero' like leaders.

Narcissist Leaders

Charismatic leaders can also be narcissists in some cases, having self-serving and grandiose intentions, taking advantage of their followers and abusing their power.

Even though they are generally perceived as arrogant, their bold vision and fearless attitude make them radiate an image of effective leaders, making them a high-risk, high-reward proposition.

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  • Being self-aware and knowing their strengths and weaknesses.
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An authentic leader inspires trust and loyalty in employees and has the ability to influence others and contribute to an organization's success. And all that can be learned and assessed.

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Critics believe that authentic leadership can promote rigidity in those who use it as an excuse for not evolving their ideas following new challenges, experiences and insights.

Critics also say that authentic leadership's belief in presenting one's true self, and not a persona, can prevent someone from being an effective leader. 

Addicted to charisma

A leader who employs too much charisma can come to rely on this ability as an end unto itself.  Charismatic leaders can charm themselves. 

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Becoming addicted to a charismatic leader

An overly-charismatic leader draws focus from the rest of the organization by demanding all the attention. When the focus shifts to the personal characteristics of the leader, accountability is diminished.

The followers can become overly dependent on the leader for all manner of large and small directions and decisions. The enterprise loses the ability to be resilient in the face of changing realities. 

To avoid organizational dependency

... leaders must ask themselves:

  • Do I spend my time empowering others to make decisions, or does my involvement force people to look to me for answers?
  • How often do I dive into details that belong to others?
  • How do my actions and attention help – or prevent – others from taking greater responsibility and accountability for their actions?

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To motivate and inspire performance, a leader must be:

  • Visionary: providing a clear picture of the future and being able to communicate it to the team.
  • Enhancing: creating positive individual relationships along with team relationships.
  • Driver: completing things on time and being accountable for personal and group performance.
  • Principled: being a positive role model of doing the right things in the right way.
  • Enthusiast: being passionate about the organization, its goals and the work itself.
  • Expert: providing a strong technical direction that comes from deep expertise.
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Kurt Lewin's Leadership Styles

Psychologist Kurt Lewin developed his framework in the 1930s, and it provided the foundation of many of the approaches that followed afterwards

  • Autocratic leaders make decisions without consulting their team members, even if their input would be useful.
  • Democratic leaders make the final decisions, but they include team members in the decision-making process.
  • Laissez-faire leaders give their team members a lot of freedom in how they do their work. They provide support with resources and advice if needed, but otherwise they don't get involved.
The Blake-Mouton Managerial Grid
  • With a people-oriented style, you focus on organizing, supporting, and developing your team members. This participatory style encourages good teamwork and creative collaboration.
  • With task-oriented leadership, you focus on getting the job done. You define the work and the roles required, put structures in place, and plan, organize, and monitor work.

The best style to use is one that has both a high concern for people and a high concern for the task.

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You can’t pretend to be an authentic leader for long because people will eventually sense the lack of authenticity, and ultimately you will not gain the trust of your teammates.

If you are real and genuine people will see you as trustworthy and willing to learn, they will respond positively to requests for help in getting through difficult times.

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To master the art of personal magnetism
  • Speak slowly. Visualize the slow, emphatic tone of a judge delivering a verdict.
  • Pause. Those who show confidence often pause for a second or two between sentences.
  • Drop intonation. Lowering the tone of your voice at the end of a sentence sounds confident. You can even lower your intonation midsentence.
  • Check your breathing. Try not to breathe through your mouth as it can make you sound breathless and anxious. Instead, inhale and exhale through your nose.
  • Smile. Smiling projects more warmth in your voice. It's even worth doing when on the phone.
The high imagery speech

The use of imagery increases charisma.

Research shows that a high imagery speech resulted in higher ratings of charisma that a low imagery speech.

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Exercising Integrity

Not every leader is benevolent. Many leaders have insight, initiative, influence, and impact but their lives and legacies are tainted by a lack of integrity.

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Being Impactful

The measure of leadership is the impact they have on their followers. How much of a difference they make.

They’re either instrumental in creating real lasting change, or they’re not leaders. They’re just entertainers.

Exerting Influence

An authentic leader draws people and compels them to act with his vision and values. He also gives off a positive vibe and is good at persuading others to his point of view.

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