In this Q & A session, researcher on charisma and charismatic leadership, Edward Brown of Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute, provides insight into the possible impact of transformational leadership on charismatic leaders.
Q: What is the difference between transformational leadership and charismatic leadership?
A: Actually, the charismatic leadership model predates the transformational leadership model by several decades. Eminent sociologist, Max Weber (1864-1920) is credited for secularizing the concept of charisma and the charismatic leadership model. James MacGregor Burns is credited with developing the transformational leadership model in 1978.
Essentially, the two leadership models share the same traits. Charismatic leaders and transformational leaders are described as visionaries, inspirational, and great orators. The major distinction researchers make between the models is that charismatic leaders are power driven to complete a mission; whereas transformational leaders empower individuals to become more independent and less dependent on the leader.
Q: Why do you think there is so much disagreement among researchers about transformational leadership versus charismatic leadership?
A: I believe some representatives of the charismatic leadership model have given it a negative connotation. Hitler, Mussolini, and Amin come to mind. Proponents of transformational leadership have taken the positive traits of charismatic leadership and made transformational leadership a morality driven model. Transformational leadership is reminiscent of charismatic leadership when charismatic leadership had a religious connotation attached to it under church historian Rudolph Sohm.
Q: What do you think is the connection between transformational leadership and charismatic leadership?
A: My thoughts are premature on this particular notion. However, I hypothesize that transformational leaders create charismatic leaders.
Q: Could you elaborate?
A: I was trying to decide if Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was more of a transformational leader or a charismatic leader. If he was trying to transform the segregated conditions of his time and the people around him, then he was transformational. But, if he had a selfish motive for his cause, he may be closer to the charismatic leadership model. I surmised that he was transformational in that he transformed legislation, race relations and self-determination for black people. However, the people he transformed appear to operate more to the charismatic leadership model. Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, Ralph David Abernathy, Hosea Williams, John Lewis, and Joseph Lowery fall under the charismatic leadership model. Although they all shared a common experience, each man carved out a niche for himself in the market place. Although they are/were influential, arguably, not one of these men has created an institution bigger than themselves. That is not necessarily a bad thing. I was not attempting to judge the contributions of these men, but determine the difference between transformational leadership and charismatic leadership.
Q: Do any other examples come to mind?
A: Yes, Elijah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam was transformational, but Malcolm X and Minister Louis Farrakhan are under the charismatic leadership model. In this regard, charisma can support the work of the transformational leader (Dr. King and Elijah Muhammad) or create a body of work within itself, Steve Jobs and Apple technology products and Denzel Washington and his body of film work.
For more information, visit: Charisma