Sunday, May 22, 2011

Charismatic Leadership: One Size Does Not Fit All

Dear Mr. Brown:

I came across one of your articles where you suggest that charismatic leadership is most suitable when a company is in crisis mode. If what you say is true, can you draw the conclusion that most companies do not have charismatic CEOs at the helm, because most companies are stable? As a result, are out- of- work charismatic leaders running around looking for companies to save?

Julian Christianson
Montreal, Canada

Dear Mr. Christianson:

Thank you for posing an intellectual challenge. Yes, research suggests that charismatic leaders are most beneficial for companies during crisis situations or times of uncertainty. However, there is a difference between the most ideal time for charismatic leaders to flourish and the basic effectiveness of charismatic leaders in general. If business is about people management and profitability, charismatic leadership is generally effective despite the stability of a company. For examples, let’s say a corporation’s quarterly profit reports have been steadily increasing, but the Research & Development (R&D) division has been slow in creating innovative products and services. Although the overall company is healthy, a charismatic leader may jumpstart the R& D division to create groundbreaking products and services. Charismatic leaders are often passionate about ideas and new challenges. There will never be a shortage of problems and challenges within a company that does not necessitate a charismatic leader rising to the occasion.

At the end of the day, charismatic leaders are not skulking around looking for companies to save. Charismatic leaders are visionaries looking for opportunities to put their ideas to work that are a part of a long-term mission.

Related: Charisma

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