Leadership Style - Charismatic

The Charismatic leadership style focuses on generating personal influence flowing from leader to follower. This emotional influence is conveyed through:

  • Leader’s positive non-verbal communication, smiling, laughing, etc. Even in crisis, charismatic leaders look confident
  • Positive expression in written and spoken language. Charismatic leaders focus on what can be done. "We will double company profits in five years through innovative products" rather than, "We will not fail to achieve doubling our profits."
  • Leader’s biological reactions such as increased heart rate, flushed skin, etc.which is often seen by followers as having passion for the cause

Behaviors common in charismatic leaders include:

  • Providing a clear sense of mission or purpose that is quickly understood and emotionally engaging
  • Powerfully and repeatedly articulating the vision with passion
  • Acting decisively to achieve the mission
  • Unconventional behavior, being willing to challenge the status quo in order to achieve the mission.
  • Projecting confidence that the mission is the right one and that "failure is not an option."
  • Providing insights that enable followers to be on course and to achieve breakthroughs. For example, Steve Jobs brought the insight that design for human use mattered in computing.

Leadership Style: Born or Made?

Research has answered this question. Richard Arvey and his associates have documented that leadership is about 1/3 born and 2/3 made. Charismatic leadership may come more naturally to some leaders, however it is a process of emotional influence and processes can be learned.

The best charismatic leaders are those who have passion and vision for what they are leading people toward. These leaders are authentic as well as charismatic. The authenticity will be evident in the naturalness of the emotional engagement with followers.

Leadership Tips:

If your personal style is charismatic, be sure that you are clear on the vision or cause that you espouse. Charismatic leaders sometimes create disenchanted followers by switching visions. This leaves people feeling disappointed and disillusioned.

Check your leadership path for rightness. Charismatic leaders are as capable of leading down the wrong path as the right one. Humble charismatic leaders, yes they exist, are often unaware of how easily they influence others. The followers assume that the leaders has thought through the direction when the leader may simply be speaking to try out an idea. The followers get enthused and begin to implement only to find out later that the idea was only and idea and not a direction.

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