What Research Says About Charisma and Leadership Strengths

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A deep-seated process in human cognition is involved in attributing charisma according to researchers Michael Morris, Chavkin-Chang Professor of Leadership, Columbia Business School. The researchers conducted three different experiments:

1.Testing whether ascriptions of mystique were associated with perceptions of the executive as a visionary able to forecast future business trends 2.Examining if managers who performed well when obvious success-mechanisms were absent - for example extensive practice or technical skills - were more likely to be thought of as having mystique and judged to be better at tasks requiring vision rather than those depending on administrative skill 3.The final study asked subjects to judge two executives: one who succeeded through vision and the other through hard work. When compared to the hard-working manager, the visionary executive was perceived as being more creative, curious, and charismatic Leadership and Assertiveness

Research led by Daniel Ames, PhD and Francis Flynn, PhD, professors at Columbia Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business, and published in the ‘Journal of Personality and Social Psychology’ in 2007, found that being perceived as having too much or too little assertiveness may be the most common weakness in aspiring business leaders, resulting in them appearing less effective than those with an optimal mid-range level. In a series of studies, researchers sought workers' opinions about colleagues' leadership strengths and weaknesses. The most common strengths identified included conventional traits like intelligence, self-discipline, and charisma. However, weaknesses were not simply an absence of such qualities; by far the most common response related to assertiveness. The researchers suggest that charisma usually causes a problem only when absent but many potential leaders were considered too assertive or not assertive enough. In one study of nearly 1000 co-workers, more than half of the...
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