Charismatic Leadership

Topics: Leadership, Charismatic authority, Sociology Pages: 13 (3254 words) Published: May 16, 2014
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Charismatic Leadership

Charismatic Leadership
Ketan Palshikar

This essay gives an overview of various leadership types and focuses on the charismatic leadership. It attempts to explain the charismatic leadership process with an example of Mahatma Gandhi as a charismatic leader. It goes further and explores the attributes that a charismatic leader possesses. The essay also tries to find out various effects of charismatic leadership on the organization. While mentioning the positive effects of the charismatic leadership, it also investigates the “dark” side of the charismatic leadership. After reading the essay the readers are expected to have gained enough familiarity with this kind of leadership and at the end of the essay I would like to put forth a couple of questions regarding charismatic leadership which have remained unanswered after reading the material I have cited.

Any type of organization runs successfully when it is piloted by a skillful and influential leader. While leaders motivate their followers, it is not the only thing leaders can do. A good leader can structure the organization in the way he wants. He represents the culture of the organization and most importantly, it has been observed that effective leaders posses a capacity to increase the productivity of the organization. Various scholars categorize leadership styles in a different way. Lewin (1939) classifies leadership styles in three categories: Autocratic Leadership, Democratic Leadership and Delegative (Laissez-Faire) Leadership [1]. Max Weber classifies leaders as Bureaucratic Leader, Traditional Leaders and Charismatic Leaders [2]. In

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Charismatic Leadership

1978 Burns defined yet another classification: Transactional Leaders and Transformational Leaders [2]. Burns Transformational Leadership is similar to Charismatic Leadership style proposed by Weber. Since 1978 a lot of research has been done on various aspects of charismatic leadership. In this essay I would like to focus on charismatic leadership, its attributes and traits in charismatic leaders.

What is charismatic leadership?
Weber defines charismatic leadership as “resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him” [3]. He envisaged religious leaders like Jesus as charismatic leaders. Later researches considered various social-political leaders like Mahatma Gandhi as charismatic leaders. Dictators like Hitler also had some charismatic traits. These were the leaders with exceptional qualities which made them almost god-like for their followers. The charm of such people made their followers go behind these leaders without questioning them. While analyzing such a strong bond between the leaders and his followers Weber focuses on the social patterns and conditions under which the leader exists. However, the later researches throw light on the psychological attributes of the leaders which make them successful charismatic leaders. Research shows that charismatic leaders appeal strongly to the values of the followers and it is this psychological bondage between the two which makes the charismatic leadership succeed. Neither the sociologically oriented Weberian approach nor the psychological approach alone can explain charismatic leaders. The approaches together, however, give the better analysis of charismatic leadership.

Charismatic Leadership Process

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Charismatic Leadership

Charismatic leadership process is seen as a compound product of three factors: The leader and his attributes, the social situation which demands for such a leader and the interaction between the leader and his followers. Charismatic leadership process undergoes six steps from the rise of the leader to the final routinization and thus the fall of the leader [4]. I would like to identify Mahatma Gandhi as a...

References: Lewin, K., R. Lippitt, et al. (1939). "PATTERNS OF AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR IN
4. Jacobsen, C. (2001). "Dynamics of charismatic leadership: A process theory, simulation
model, and tests." Leadership Quarterly 12(1): 75.
5. Tendulkar, D. G. Mahatma, vol. 1, revised ed., pp. 198-213, The Publication Division,
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 1960
6. Tendulkar, D. G. Mahatma, vol. 2, revised ed., The Publication Division, Ministry of
Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 1960
8. Tendulkar, D. G. Mahatma, vol. 5, revised ed., pp. 85-101, The Publication Division,
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 1960
9. Tendulkar, D. G. Mahatma, vol. 6, revised ed., pp. 1-45, The Publication Division,
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 1960
10. Tendulkar, D. G. Mahatma, vol. 8, revised ed., The Publication Division, Ministry of
Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 1960
11. Towler, A. (2005). "Charismatic leadership development: role of parental attachment
style and parental psychological control." Journal of Leadership & Organizational
12. Jung, D. and J. J. Sosik (2006). "Who are the spellbinders? Identifying personal attributes
of charismatic leaders." Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies 12(4): 12(15).
13. DeCelles, K. A. and M. D. Pfarrer (2004). "Heroes or villains? Corruption and the
charismatic leader." Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies 11(1): 67(11).
14. Groves, K. S. (2005). "Gender differences in social and emotional skills and charismatic
leadership." Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies 11(3): 30(17).
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