Thursday, February 19, 2009

Charisma & The Will to Power

At first glance, the notion of charisma as a self- serving tool might be off-putting. But a closer examination would go to the reason individuals become leaders in the first place. The idealistic model suggests that leaders traditionally assume the leadership baton, because he or she has the best intentions for the perpetuity of civilization in mind. There is no doubt that this may be the case. In both examples, Hitler and Dr. King had the interests of their respective countrymen in mind. They were both responding to the immediate needs and desires of their constituencies. However, both men knew their audiences and what would motivate them towards action. Individuals don't necessary assume leadership roles because they embrace a notion of popular consensus, but because they believe their ideas are better. In short, they will to power to exercise these ideas for self-gratification primarily and for the uplifting of the masses secondarily. Whether it is politicians, clerics or well-meaning individuals, most charismatic leadership as well as other forms of leadership, begin with a compelling idea of supremacy.

This would stand to reason. After all, what would be the need for alternatives, if the status quo was sufficient? The desire for betterment is at the core of human motivation and innovation. Witness the rise of mega churches, with charismatic leadership often the progenitor of its success. What more commentary could individuals provide from biblical scriptures that have been around for two thousand years? The cleric who says he has another point of view by which he builds a church is self- aggrandizing, which invariably leads to congregants accepting his point of view as a guide to a better way of life.

Let's be clear that charismatic leadership, while initiated from the self- interest of the leader, is progressive in that it cuts through the rhetoric of why individuals become leaders in the first place--to achieve a goal and a mission. The general rules for leadership modules have gone off course mainly because it proposes to be politically correct rather than effective. The reason there is a saturation of leadership models with very little leaders is because they largely attempt an overly idealistic reality about human nature. Man was never as good as pundits have asserted. And any criticism on the part of humanity is largely excused in favor of lofty ideas regarding man's inherent design to be "God-like", but consistently falling short of this grace. As man continues to fall off the horse, our hope is that eventually he will become an experienced rider.

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