It is challenging to objectively demarcate the impact of narcissism on charismatic leadership, because narcissists can be very compelling and persuasive without necessarily being charismatic. The Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute defines Charisma as “The creating of perceptions that impact the mind and emotions of others through flair, finesse and glib language.” In other words, charismatic personalities utilize emotional and mental stimuli as a means of control. While they create perceptions and experiences that draw others in, they operate from biological and environmental influences. Narcissists and charismatics share similar traits including the desire for power and control. Bitter (2008) suggests “In the end, it is not self-confidence or even self-love that takes center stage: It is power, control, demanding-ness, privilege, and exploitation. Narcissism may be a part of the disorder, but it is not the disorder itself’ (p. 277). Guilfoyle (2005) suggests that charismatics emerge from early childhood experiences,” Research in the fields of leadership and social psychology offers evidence that charismatic behaviours are learned and regularly emerge from adverse early experiences. Many charismatic personalities it seems were talented children who experienced family crises and counterbalanced those early losses with self-sufficiency and a stronger sense of purpose in their lives” (para 7). Eminent philosopher Thomas Carlyle said that individuals were “hard-wired” for hero worship. That catapulting images and personalities into demigods seemed to be in the human DNA. In addition, Bitter (2008) says,” Human beings, it seems to me, do indeed absorb the dominant culture, even when a given individual may not be a privileged part of that culture” (p. 273). If Carlyle’s impressions are correct then it is reasonable for adherents to worship narcissists and by association, charismatic leaders. With the deification of narcissists, narcissists have turned the hardwiring of worshipping inwardly. As individuals look outwardly for iconic representatives, narcissists have found their hero within themselves.
Bitter. J. (2008 Fall). Reconsidering narcissism: An Adlerian-feminist response to the article in the special section of the journal of individual psychology. The Journal of Individual Psychology, vol. 64, issue 3, p. 270-279, 10p.
Guilfoyle, D. (2005). Charismatic communication: The importance of form. Editorialtoday.com. Retrieved from: http://www.streetdirectory.com/etoday/charismatic-comminicationthe-importance-of-form-wjecfw.html.