Sunday, September 4, 2011

Charismatic Leadership Versus Transformational Leadership

Researchers disagree about charismatic leadership and transformational leadership being synonymous or two distinct leadership models. Den Hartog, House, Hanges, Ruiz-Quintanilla, and Dorfman (1999) stated in their study that several attributes reflecting charismatic/transformational leadership are universally endorsed as contributing to outstanding leadership. These attributes include: motive arouser, foresight, encouraging, communicative, trustworthy, dynamic, positive, confidence builder, and motivational.

However, Yukl (1999) drew a distinction between the two leadership models. Yukl stressed that transformational leaders seem more likely to take initiatives that empower followers and make followers partners in an endeavor. Contrarily, charismatic leaders seem more likely to emphasize the need for radical organizational changes that can be accomplished if followers place their trust in the charismatic leader’s abilities. The core behavior, motivation, and traits make transformational and charismatic leadership unlikely to occur at the same time.

Dubrin (2010) noted that a key component of transformational leadership is the leader’s ability to inspire people and make major changes within an organization. Although charismatic leaders are inspirational, they do not bring about major changes within an organization (Dubrin, 2010). Johnson (2012) argued that charismatic leadership and transformational leadership were not interchangeable terms. Johnson suggested that charismatic leadership is more individual or personality centered in that followers had emotional ties to the leader that approached idol worship. The transformational leader encouraged followers to be independent of leadership; whereas the charismatic leader encouraged followers to rely on the leader.

Johnson postulated that transformational leaders raise the morality of both leaders and followers and serve as a model for ideal behavior. On the other hand, charismatic leadership is more results focused. Johnson believed emphatically that transformational leaders are charismatic, but that charismatic leaders are not necessarily transformational. Charismatic leaders are more concerned about what works as opposed to what is right. Johnson appeared not to disagree that charismatic leaders affect organizational development, but inherently believed that the moral barometer within charismatic leaders is ethically skewed toward achieving successful results at any cost. Johnson appeared suspicious of the charismatic leader’s motives and seemed to suggest that impure thoughts produce impure results.


Den Hartog, D.N., House, R.J., Hanges, P.J., Ruiz-Quintanilla, S.A., and Dorfman, P.W. (1999 Summer). Culture specific and cross culturally generalizable implicit leadership theories: are attributes of charismatic/transformational leadership universally endorsed? Leadership Quarterly, 10(2), 219.

Dubrin, A. J. (2010). Leadership: research, findings, and skills, 6th edition. Ohio: South-Western Centage Learning.

Johnson, C.E. (2012). Meeting the ethical challenges of leadership: Casting light or shadow, 4th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Yukl. G. (1999 Summer). An evaluation of conceptual weaknesses in transformational and charismatic leadership theories. Leadership Quarterly, 10(2), 285.

For more information, visit: Charisma

No comments: