Charisma Gone Wild: It’s Not Always an Asset
Southeastern Oklahoma State University
This paper serves to inform that charisma is not always positive. There is an extreme difference in charisma used ethically and charisma used unethically. Ethical charisma is used to serve the followers while unethical charisma is used to help benefit the leader themselves. This paper looks at multiple extreme examples of leaders using charisma in unethical ways, as well as one example of a charismatic leader blinding people to reality with the help of the media. It will also discuss the ways charisma is used in business, both ethically and unethically, as well as provide examples of times when charisma is appropriate.
“Charisma is a fire, a fire that ignites followers’ energy and commitment, producing results above and beyond the call of duty.” Charisma is not always an asset and is frequently used in negative ways. Two people that immediately come to mind include Adolph Hitler and Osama Bin Laden. These are two of the most charismatic leaders to have ever lived, and although they had many followers, it is safe to say that neither of these two are viewed as positive leaders. These are just two extreme examples of leaders using charisma for personal gains. Charismatic Disasters
Hitler gained a large support group through the use of Charisma at his mass rallies. He would incite such an intense emotion in the people attending the rallies that they would become blind to anything other than what Hitler would say. It was as if people became spell bound and were unable to think for themselves. Hitler was able to realize that in order for him to carry out his plan he would need the support of the people. He also was able to comprehend the fact that “what is needed is not the manoeuvring of [his] own ‘actual’ behaviours but the cognition and affection of followers as charisma resides in cognition and affection of followers rather than in [his] own behaviours.” Simply put, he was able to gain a following not by his actions, but by appealing to the thoughts and emotions of the people. Osama Bin Laden
Bin Laden operated one of the largest terrorist operations to ever exist. Many people question how somebody can convince people to do such horrible things. Wilson and Kwileck try to explain. Followers submit to irrational orders by cult leaders because they believe that these leaders possess “supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities.” Bin Laden used reward power to motivate his followers. He claimed that all of his orders were on a holy level and used the reward of an afterlife to motivate members of Al Qaeda to carry out terroristic operations. Barack Obama
Barack Obama’s entire presidential career has been based upon charisma. It started from the very beginning when the media helped him build up a grand persona who was capable of “Change” and “Hope.” The media also helped play up the fact that Obama could become the first black President of the United States. “Obama’s charisma can be articulated as an inspiration to the creation of new social norms regarding racial progress.” This added on to Obama’s image of charisma and made nearly half the country blind to former senator of Illinois’s political stances. Part of the discourse of Obama’s charisma is that he displays paternalistic charisma. This simply means that he is too caring of others. This paternalistic charisma has gotten in the way of taking the necessary actions when dealing with foreign nations. “Obama is described as introducing a totally new approach to US relations with Islamic nations, including striving for cooperation through dialogue and negotiation.” The media has helped aid in the portrayal of the charismatic Obama as “a leader who stands for the whole nation and is admired internationally.” Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy was a normal...
Cited: House, R. J., Spangler, W. D., & Woycke, J. (1991). Personality and Charisma in the U.S. Presidency: A Psychological Theory of Leader Effectiveness. Cornell University.
Hwang, A., Khatri, N., & Srinivas, E. (2005). Organizational Charisma and Vision Across Three Countries. Management Decision.
Jayakody, J. (2008). Charisma as a Cognitive-Affective Phenomenon: A Follower-Centric Approach. Emerald.
Klein, K. J., & House, R. J. (1995). On Fire: Charismatic Leadership and Levels of Analysis. The Leadership Quarterly, 183-198.
Parrish, T. (2012). Leadership Styles: Martin Luther King vs. Jim Jones. Winnemucca.
Takala, T., Tanttu, S., Lamsa, A.-M., & Virtanen, A. (2012). Discourses of Charisma: Barack Obama 's First 6 Months as the President of the USA. Springer Science and Business Media.
Wayne, L. (2007). Gifted Serial Killers: John Wayne Gacy, Edmund Kemper, and Theodore Bundy. Muncie: Ball State University.
Weierter, S. J. (1997). Who Wants to Play 'Follow the Leader? ' A Theory of Charismatic Relationships Based on Routinized Charisma and Follower Characteristics. The Leadership Quarterly, 171-193.
Wilson, L. S., & Kwileck, S. (2003). Are These People Crazy, or What? A Rational Choice Interpretation of Cults and Charisma. Humanomics, pp. 29-44.
Yukl, G. (1999). An Evaluation of Conceptual Weaknesses in Transformational and Charismatic Leadership Theories. Leadership Quarterly, 285-305.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document