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Personality matters: Introduction to Charismatic Leadership Theory

 

Think of an example of a great leader from any time, and there’s a fair chance that the person you thought of could readily be described as charismatic. They are likely to have led, at least in part, by force of their personality and their capacity to charm their followers. They will appear to have endless self-belief, and they will inspire trust by their ability to appeal to every individual of a larger group – perhaps by the way they address people or by the impressive way they demonstrate commitment to achieving a particular vision.

 

Communication

 

This charismatic leadership is often linked to exceptional communication skills. This can be in terms of their capacity to address a large group – with powerful speech-making skills and an imposing presence. At the same time, it is also often linked to a real capacity for engaging with individuals – being able to communicate one-on-one through an ability to alter their approach to different people’s particular personality and needs. They will often also be great listeners, and will be able to readily link the thoughts and ideas of an individual with their own vision for success.

 

Of course, other leadership styles – such as transformational leadership – also rely heavily on a leader’s ability to influence and inspire their followers. Where they differ is that charismatic leadership rests more on the personal vision of a charismatic leader and how that resonates with followers. It can also be more driven by their passion and personal drive than other styles, which have more basis in accepted systems of how things should be done in business.

 

Cross-over with Autocratic Leadership

 

There are also similarities with an authoritarian style of leadership – with both sets of followers likely to drive towards greater productivity by force of the leader’s personality. The critical difference, however, is that followers of an authoritarian leader are likely to be driven as much by a desire to avoid the consequences of non-compliance, as by a genuinely inspired drive to attain a particular vision. 

 

 
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