Saturday, July 30, 2011

Charismatic Leaders as Visionaries

Waldman and Yammarino (1999) defined Chief Executive Officer (CEO) charisma in two parts. First, CEO charisma is the behavioral characteristics of the leader, including: the articulation of a clear vision based on personal values, a consistent demonstration of these values, high performance expectations of himself and followers, confidence in followers’ abilities to meet the challenges, and the assumption of personal risks. Second, CEO charisma involves a relationship between the CEO and one or more followers. Relationships must be close in proximity as well as distant within the organizational structure. In addition, followers must internalize their commitment to the vision of the leader.

Nadler and Tushman (1990) asserted that vision and charisma are not enough to sustain large system changes. Although charisma is necessary in business for improving interpersonal relationships, a business model must go beyond inspired individuals. Nadler and Tushman cited Don Burr of People Express as an example of the pitfalls of visionaries under the charismatic leadership model. Burr had a far reaching dream to expand the markets of People Express Airline; however, fell short based on his inability to translate a vision into a cohesive senior executive team as well as make the necessary organizational changes to flourish. This incapacity for improving People Express’ infrastructure caused its demise. The complexities in a global market call for business expertise and operations not often attributed to charismatic leadership. To this extent, charismatic leaders are viewed myopically. Researchers tend to focus on the emotional impact charismatic leaders often exude rather than charismatic leaders being strategist for implementing far-reaching plans.

(Excerpts from Strengths & Weaknesses of Charismatic Leaders on Organizational Development) by Edward Brown


Nadler,D., and Tushman, M. (1990 Winter). Beyond charismatic leader: Leadership and organizational change. California Management Review, 32(2), 77-97.

Waldman, D.A., and Yammarino, F.J. (1999 Apr.) Ceo charismatic leadership: Levels-of-management and levels-of-analysis effects. Academy of Management Review, 24(2), 266-285.

For more information, visit: Charisma

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