Problems and Perspectives in Management, 3/2005
Charismatic Leadership and Power
Tuomo Takala Abstract
The purpose of this article is to consider the concepts of charisma, power, and leadership, and illustrate these phenomena by putting forth some examples: e.g. Finnish leadership, and on the other hand, the dark side of charisma, Osama bin Laden. The nature of charisma and charismatic leadership is nowadays quite popular area of research. For instance, leadership scholars have discussed the importance of impression management. It has been suggested that charismatic leaders engage in impression management techniques in order to bolster their image of competence, increasing subordinate compliance and faith in them. Or it is reported that charismatic leaders can be distinguished from other leaders by their use of articulation and impression management practices to inspire followers in pursuit a vision. Charismatic leadership in organizations has been recently focused in several organizational studies even if the basic conceptual as well as empirical work has been done in the field from 70's until now. Origins of charisma discourse dates back to Weber. In general, there is nowadays a tendency to focus on personality issues, like charisma of the leader, in relation to organizational contexts more often compared to earlier times. At the same time dramaturgical perspectives on leadership and charisma have emerged, and fantasies, intuitions, visions and other mental activities have been recognized to have role also in leadership. In this article the method called “interpretative study of concepts” developed by Takala and Lämsä is used. Results: e.g., a practical implications concerning manager’s leadership training are put forth. Key words: Charisma, Business Ethics, Leadership, Management.
The nature of charisma and charismatic leadership is nowadays quite popular area of research. Leadership scholars often have discussed the importance of impression management. It is suggested that charismatic leaders engage in impression management techniques in order to bolster their image of competence, increasing subordinate compliance and faith in them. Or it is reported that charismatic leaders can be distinguished from other leaders by their use of articulation and impression management practices to inspire followers in pursuit a vision (see Gardner and Avolio, 1999). The common core of many overlapping approaches lies in their viewing leadership as the conveyance of values and meaning by means of exemplary actions, as well in the articulation of inspiring vision. The basic assumption is that this kind of leadership transforms the needs, values, preferences, desires and aspirations of followers from their individual interests to collective interests, so that followers become highly committed to the mission of the leader and are prepared to make sacrifices in the mission (see Steyreyr, 1998). The most current theory on leadership considers leadership as a process in which leaders are not seen as individuals in charge of followers, but as members of a community of practice. A community of practice is defined as “people united in a common enterprise who share a history and thus certain values, beliefs, ways of talking, and ways of doing things”. This definition may be thought of as a variation of organizational culture. These authors believe that the vast majority of leadership theories and research has been based on the idea that leadership involves a leader and a group of followers, and dominance, motivation, and influence are the primary vehicles of leadership. This has been a primary focus of research to date. Building on and modifying this view, Drath and Palus (1994) propose a theory of leadership as a process. Instead of focusing on a leader and followers, they suggest studying the social process that happens with groups of people who are engaged in an activity together. With this view, leadership is not...
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