Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Charisma Goes to Church: ONE is the Only Number!

We would be hard pressed in attempting to determine how many charismatic leaders exist in the world. Not only does the amount represent an incredibly small number, the actual criteria that individuals confer on charismatic leaders are subjective and whimsical. Even if two individuals can agree on which leaders are charismatic, they tend to disagree on the degree of their charisma. While this shouldn't matter much (charisma is as charisma does), the extent to which one follows one charismatic leader over another resonates with: The visceral message of the leader; and when the adherent feels a connection with the leader and his message. An unscientific observation would be the ministerial styles of Bishop Eddie Long of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia and Creflo Dollar of the World Changers Church in College Park, Georgia.

Both Pastors oversee a congregation well over 25,000. Their messages have attracted a cross section of the same demographics, mainly African-Americans who are upwardly mobile who have found a cultural as well as a socioeconomic connection between the two ministers. Dollar takes a more overt stand in supporting a prosperity gospel whereas Long shares similar viewpoints covertly, but with a stronger emphasis on the youth and hipper issues. While the two may have some semblance of the "ole time religion," they largely have tailored their message and thus their mission to a current congregation with contemporary issues. Although the two charismatic clerics have shared the same platform together, it would be interesting to know how many congregants visit the others church? If either congregation does not experience “flip flopping” of visitation, then what would be the reason?

Invariably, there are differences in the religious styles between the two, which tap into their congregational base. At a cursory view, it would be an educated guess that there isn't a lot of "flip flopping." The societal dictate of choosing one brand over the other does not stop even when dealing with spiritual matters. Western culture is steeped in brand ‘A’ being better than brand ‘B’. Consequently, the adherents of charismatic leaders choose the dominant clergy as category giants just as he or she chooses the dominant product in cereal, soap and toothpaste.
And so the charismatic leader chooses one segment in a population or topic and builds his base on that platform. Consequently, the "one size fits all" notion is cannibalized in the church under charismatic leadership as it is in the marketplace. Charismatic leaders find one mission, idea or product and push and promote that idea to attract adherents. It is deemed un-charismatic to not be identified with a salient message. Donald Trump is the quintessential real estate developer and is connected with opulence and grandeur. Lee Iaccoca is the savoir to Chrysler Corporation. Ted Turner is the innovator of CNN and the Superstation. John Delorean is the maverick behind a sports car. Whether clergy or businessperson, the methodology is similar.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Only the Bold Survive!

Contrary to popular belief, the people who are often hugely successful in their accomplishments go against the grain. They find new and innovative ways of getting things done as well as garnering attention. In this age of "Done it and seen it before," it is important to break models and paradigms of the "only one way" of doing something. There is a saying that it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission. When you ask for permission, you are relying on the will of someone else to sanction or veto your plans. However, when you ask for forgiveness, you have already accomplished what you wanted without having asked. The other person is at a weakness. Now, this does not suggest that we're condoning immoral behavior, but you will get a lot farther in life creating your own path with a mind towards positive outcomes rather than being at the behest and approval of others.

By writing your own rules, you exemplify a predominate trait among charismatic leaders. While purporting to benefit everyone, many rules are designed to benefit a segment of the population. That's why when too many people start utilizing a rule to their benefit; the rule is amended. Rules are kept in place as long as the stated goals are maintained. Rules and laws operate on the same continuum with laws having greater repercussions when broken. Boldness knows when to follow the rules that generally protect the public interest versus those that curtail aspirations. Rules involving social etiquette and public policy should be severely scrutinized. This is not confirmation for psychopathic behavior, but merely opening up the options to play to your strengths and not bind yourself in a social straitjacket.

As you are strengthening your position, it is imperative that you navigate the world as if you are the "center" of it. You are in the captain's seat and all the controls are at your disposal. By positioning your mindset from this vantage, you not only discard rules that are irreconcilable, but begin to rewrite your own rules. At this point, a caveat is important. When rewriting rules, be prepared for the consequences and repercussions that independent thinking brings forth. As you travel throughout the world, you will see a difference in the economic structure of independent versus dependent countries. Those countries that are supported by or are territories of a superpower are more picturesque and garner more resources than countries lacking external support. The dependent countries in their quest to be self-determined have abdicated any form of dependence and have paid the price through rejecting external influence. This is salient for you who opt to pave your own way devoid of dependency of benefactors. By engaging in dependent relationships, it may seem advantageous at first blush. After all, you are tying your aspirations to a policy or decision-maker who can make your life easier and thus strengthen your ability to build clout. However, you have not strengthened your position for longevity, but for a temporary period of time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Charismatic Leadership: Magnetic or Manipulative?

It is safe to say that charismatic leadership is an orphan in the pantheon of leadership models. Scholars and pundits alike are ambivalent as to the real value of charismatic leadership for helping build coalitions, increase revenue and ultimately encourage followers to become more empowered. Contrary to the traditional meaning of charisma as "a gift from God" or the Greek meaning "Grace in action," contemporary society often characterizes charisma as a manipulative tool to usurp the power and free will of individuals. J.W. Gibson, J.C. Hannon and C.W. Blackwell in The Journal of Leadership Studies point out that:

"There is no way that charismatic leadership is always a good thing or that it is needed in visionary organizations. It seems to be a good thing only when conditions are right and the intentions or the leader are in the best interests of the company and employees. Because of its emotional overtones and its ability to create fierce loyalty, charisma remains a dangerous construct--as capable of working evil as good. Evidence has been noted that suggests that charismatic leadership, while exciting when it happens may not be necessary for sustained growth and health of excellent companies. "1

This is assessment is a far cry from the initial account of charisma as a "gift" or "grace" noted in St. Paul's epistle to the Corinthians (1 Corinthian, 7:7) and man being encouraged to show his light before the world (Matthew 5:14-16). From the text, charisma is viewed as a special gift, which is individualized. Church scholar, Rudolph Sohm, maintained the concept of charisma under the religious banner until sociologist Max Weber secularized it and positioned it away from the confines of religious dogma.

All in all, it is difficult to ascertain how charisma received such a bad rap. It has scorned many, not because of its negativity, but because its overpowering energy that seems to induce codependency within adherents. No one can discount the good feelings experienced in the presence of a charismatic individual. The enchantment is remembered forever

1 Gibson, J.W., Hannon, J.C., & Blackwell, C.W. (1998). Charismatic leadership: the hidden controversy. The Journal of Leadership Studies, 5(4).

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Charismatic Leadership Versus Traditional Leader Model

Research suggests that during tumultuous times a charismatic leader is better for a crisis over a more traditional form of leadership. After the crisis has been abated, a more traditional style of leadership is advised. According to a USA Today article, "Charmed, I'm sure" by Steve Bodow (12/9/02), charismatic leaders enhance profitability during economic downturns. Jay Conger, a London Business School professor and USC researcher says that the traits that allow charismatic leaders to help enhance profitability are: · A restless compulsion to challenge the status quo. The charismatic leader is most at home, and most effective, in chaos. · A clear vision within uncharted territory to explore · An ability to articulate a vision compellingly to any audience and to imbue it with a sense of great importance. · An ability to create a sense that no other person could--or would--take the same tactic. · An ability to inspire and permit those around him to do extraordinary things. The distinction between Charismatic Leadership and Traditional Leadership should be noted, because pundits are inclined to use a "One size fits all" approach to complex problems requiring more specificity. Many opponents of the Charismatic Leadership model lambast its effectiveness based on how some leaders affected the model. Charismatic dictators like: Hitler, Mussolini and Idi Amin are often referred to as icons of the Charismatic Leadership Model. Even when positive charismatic leadership has been demonstrated by the likes of: John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton or Winston Churchill, pundits often point to the personal failings of such leaders. This "Hate-fest" for the charismatic model, in part, stems from the divisive nature of the charismatic model. Leaders are either extremely loved or extremely hated. That's testimony to the visceral passion this brand of leadership stirs up. Love it or hate it, the charismatic leadership model will become a more viable interpersonal factor on the world stage as human relations and economies become more competitive and challenging. The presidential election signaled the potency of the Charismatic Leadership Model as well as its viability in a tumultuous world.

For more information, visit: http://coreedgehrworkforcesolutions.core-edge.com/

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Has President-Elect Obama Dismantled the Clinton Political Machine?

The fact that the new Obama Administration is attempting to dismantle the Clinton Political Machine, shows how formidable the Clinton Political Machine has become. For the last 30-plus years, the Clintons have successfully created their own political dynasty from the ground up with nothing, but pure idealism and persistency. Collectively, they ruled the Democratic Party in ways that caused rancor inside and outside of the Party. President Clinton's willingness to become more transparent is part of the second act of continuing the Clinton Dynasty. Even if Senator Clinton couldn't become president, her role as Secretary of State, keeps the global relationships President Clinton created over the years alive and well. In a global economy, the perpetuity of dynasties aren't any longer limited to domestic influence, but have international implications. Does decentralizing the Clinton Political Machine make the Clintons stronger or weaker? Like any force to be reckoned with, you can't stop it, you can only contain it. President-elect Obama realizes he can't stop the Clinton Machine, but only contain it long enough to achieve his own goals and aspirations. Will we see an Obama Political Machine emerge? That's exactly what he's doing by layering his Administration with past and present powerful people. Obama is not a visionary in a sense. He is more Machiavellian. Like a crafty fox, he uses cunning to control the ferociousness of lions. His is a story of truncated power, where you use powerful people to shorten the necessary years it generally takes to build empires. Obama is a Pop Culture President where you don't create new ideas, but "remix" and "sample" the originals. After all, if there isn't anything new under the sun, why innovate? Theorists have postulated that whatever has worked in the past will work in the future with a little tweaking.
Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, not only continues the Clinton Dynasty, but also ties Obama's success or failure to her own. Down the line, she can't say, "I was only following orders." With so much riding on any future political aspirations she might have, it behooves her to promote the Obama Administration. For those who are taking careful notes, you are witnessing a new brand of politics and the acquisition of power.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Is Charisma Important for Leadership?

While some great leaders have been charismatic, charisma is not a necessary ingredient for great leadership. Charisma is a by-product of personality predisposition and socialization, which can be a rare combination. That's the good news! If society had to rely on pure charisma to advance its cause, its cause would be dead. Acronyms and quick quips may be tools used by charismatic personalities, but they don't lead to becoming more charismatic--just the appearance of it. Patterns of charismatic personalities usually entail early social ostracizing, a sense of mission built on a perceived injustice, ego and an inquisitive nature steeped in recreating reality. This is a far cry from standing erect, smiling confidently and remaining calm under pressure. If the manifestation of charisma made people charismatic, it would be a simple process and then charisma wouldn't be so rare.

For more information, visit: http://coreedgehrworkforcesolutions.core-edge.com/

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It Takes Power and Charisma To Woo Women

Women have become more assertive in their personal and professional lives. And while men enjoy the economic incentive of not being required to bring home all the "bacon" (money), men seem to trail women's advancement to a fault.

As a man, like charisma, it's not about "doing" as about "being." The immutable laws that rule the universe are based on strengths and weaknesses. The battle for gender equality broken down to its infinitesimal form was a battle of economic power, which translates into social and personal power. When men no longer controlled the purse strings solely, women asserted more power over relationships, including kicking the man out of bed if he wasn't satisfying her properly. Was the man emasculated by her newfound power? Of course he was! In a civilized society, the only way you can control another person, outside of sanctions against economic opportunities, is to dominate them physically. Since the Civil Rights Movement demonstrated the fallacy of brutalizing a people seeking economic and social equality, it wouldn't work as a strategy against women seeking similar outcomes (and for the record, shouldn't be part of a thought process).

So what has come out of all this advancement for women? Confusion within both genders! There are a cadre of women who want men to take the lead, not by sheer physical force of strength, but by force of intellect and personality. In fact, there are a lot of women who'd give up competing in corporate America, if they could find a man they trusted to be a husband, provider and responsible mate. Men created the independent woman by emotional and physical betrayal.

A man's advanced social and intellectual conditioning towards interdependency with women is the means of balancing the scale. You can't merely do "some" of the preparing and planning to gain the woman's affection and respect, you have to have a strong constitution about how you operate on the world stage. By setting the stage in the initial conversations in suggesting you are in total control of your life and where you want to go, you lay the foundation to where the relationship is going. You don't vacillate and appear confused about your direction. Women are steeped in security--physical and emotional. When you demonstrate a track record of making sound decisions, she will share her assertive power with you. She may be a lion in the workforce, but a kitten in your castle. She's not going to decode for you what all she wants. Sometimes she doesn't even know. By reflecting on past relationships and studying human nature, you began to study behavior patterns to determine its genesis as well as its remedy for progression. The power for gaining the respect and love of powerful women is metaphysical and intellectual. The way to a woman's heart is through her mind. Power is neutral and as Sir Isaac Newton postulated is "Neither lost nor destroyed, but merely transferred from one state to another" (My quotations). Many will argue it's not about power. I say it's all about power! Abolitionist, Frederick Douglas once said, "Power concedes only to power, always did and always will." I have found this statement to be true and live by its tenets.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Barack Obama: Is He The Messiah?

There is no doubt that President-elect Barack Obama's ascension on the world stage is unique and incredible, but to look for past omens as if his birth was the "Immaculate Conception " is a stretch. Obama's opportunities definitely aren't reminiscent for what's typical of a one-parent household in the United States. To be schooled in Hawaii and Indonesia aren't the experiences of upper class Whites in America, let alone one with African blood coursing through his veins.

It was these experiences less the baggage of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton that encouraged 61% of the votes by Whites cast for Obama . There was nothing in Jackson's or Sharpton's past that suggests they could claim to be a "President for All Americans" with a straight face. When Obama claimed egalitarianism, his DNA was proof positive of his position. He used his mixed race parentage, in what would be typically a negative in Black and White Communities, as an asset. The genius of Obama's presidential campaign was that he turned all the negatives into positives. The Civil Rights campaign for the last 40 years had worked in ways Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. couldn't have dreamed. Obama is a combination of extraordinary parenting, post-Civil Rights activism and a changed society, not to mention a frustrated one under the Bush Administration.

Let's not look into the stars for some miracle within President Obama. Miracles and supernatural beliefs tend to taint the idea of human potential. Looking to celestial matter for human potential robs us of full responsibility and participation from what manifests through our hearts and mind. Shakespeare's dictum, "The fault of men lies not in our stars…but in ourselves," goes for our greatness as well as our shortcomings.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Authentic Leadership: Historical or Histrionic?

As a student of the various forms of leadership that have entered the pantheon of human existence, specifically, the Charismatic Leadership Model, it's marveling that we're still looking for the ideal leadership model. The leaders that are often cononized from Mother Theresa to Martin Luther King, Jr., got me thinking about what people really want in leadership. Do people really want authentic leadership? And if so, does authentic leadership play well in the media? The two questions may be rhetorical or at least fodder for thought. But, it does seem that authenticity is a fleeting term when scrutinized under klieg lights. For example, it has often been said that history repeats itself. This is a natural form of the cyclical dynamics of humanism. But what happens when history replicates itself as a concerted effort by individuals attempting to manifest a specific outcome. In William Duggan's "The Art of What Works," his salient point is that by looking at what has worked successfully in the past, the chances are great that similar methods will work successfully in the present. The final Obama-McCain presidential debate was nothing more than the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debate updated to reflect contemporary sentiments in style and thought. Like the 1960 debate, did camera angles favor Obama over McCain? It's challenging to talk about "authenticity" in a media-centric society without checking the mirror to insure one's hair is not out of place. In Maureen Orth's, "The Importance of Being Famous…," she coins the phrase "Celebrity Industrial Complex" where the actors on the world stage play to the appetite of the populous. If history is our guide, true authentic leadership from Jesus to Julius Caesar has ended with the citizenry slaying the leader and later deifying his relevance.

For more information, visit: http://charismaticleadership.coreedgecharisma.com/

Monday, November 3, 2008

Is Barack Obama A Cult Figure?

There are various factors that may occur that set forth the conditions best suited for charismatic leadership. First, people have to be fearful and hopeless about current conditions. Secondly, the solutions to the social ills have to correlate with the populous' experience and optimistic feelings about itself. The solution should tap more into the emotional rather than logical region of the psyche. It is at this point where details don't matter. The leader must tap into the emotional heartstrings of adherents and create the logic as they go along. Philosopher Thomas Carlyle noted that people seemed to be hard-wired for "Hero Worship." In this instance, Obama's ascension is a bit different than the normal development of cults. Normally, cults transform paradigms by: Isolating the individual, disorienting him through confusion or fear, retraining through reframing thoughts and experiences to correlate with a new paradigm and reinforcement by gathering old adherents with the new charge. The zeal within Obama adherents is more of what was already there as opposed to what was put there. The Obama craze is a reflection of economic upheaval, America's lackluster position in the world, two major concurrent wars and a pessimism about civilization as it currently exists. If anything, the Obama Camp has done as excellent job of identifying the visceral feelings of Americans and created a campaign to cure what hurts them emotionally and psychically.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Barack Obama: When is Charisma Necessary?

There are various factors that may occur that set forth the conditions best suited for charismatic leadership. First, people have to be fearful and hopeless about current conditions. Secondly, the solutions to the social ills have to correlate with the populous' experience and optimistic feelings about itself. The solution should tap more into the emotional rather than logical region of the psyche. It is at this point where details don't matter. The leader must tap into the emotional heartstrings of adherents and create the logic as they go along. Philosopher Thomas Carlyle noted that people seemed to be hard-wired for "Hero Worshipping." In this instance, Obama's ascension is a bit different than the normal development of cults. Normally, cults transform paradigms by: Isolating the individual, disorienting him through confusion or fear, retraining through reframing thoughts and experiences to correlate with a new paradigm and reenforcement by gathering old adherents with the new charge. The zeal within Obama adherents is more of what was already there as opposed to what was put there. The Obama craze is a reflection of economic upheaval, America's lackluster position in the world, two major concurrent wars and a pessimism about civilization as it currently exists. If anything, the Obama Camp has done as excellent job of identifying the visceral feelings of Americans and created a campaign to cure what hurts them emotionally and psychically.

For more information, visit: http://charismaticleadership.coreedgecharisma.com/

Saturday, October 25, 2008

In Search of Charismatic Politicians

Charismatic politicians are far and few between, because many of them have had prior successes in other professions requiring little to no charisma. The feeling being, "Charisma didn't get me here, so I don't need it." Interesting enough, charisma would have gotten them farther. I recently went to a fundraiser for an incumbent who could have used a dosage of charisma. Attendees were there to open up their wallets and purses for his campaign. What better way to jump start a campaign than to arouse the imagination of followers to a cause bigger than themselves. He fell flat! When he finished his comments, I approached him suggesting that I could help him engage future audiences to increase their contributions. Like many politicians, he took offense to the suggestion. Many politicians see themselves as "already" being charismatic enough. The roar of the crowd blinds them to reality. Because someone is excited by seeing a local celebrity/politician doesn't mean they are moved by your mission. Fortunately, the emergence of the populous demanding that politicians be engaging will require future candidates to enhance their charisma quotient. The Obama campaign has raised the bar on what politicians will need to survive in the future.

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