Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Transactional Nature of Charismatic Leadership

Often researchers who view charismatic leaders as expert manipulators do not investigate the transactional relationship between the charismatic leader and followers. Kallis (2006) discussed the impact of leaders and followers who benefited within the German and Italian military under Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. To suggest that the German and Italian citizenry followed the dictates of Hitler and Mussolini out of fear would undermine the strengths of the charismatic leadership model. Although each man articulated and exemplified an ideal for his respective country, a transactional relationship existed between the leaders and followers. Followers supported Hitler and Mussolini, because these leaders instilled the self-respect and integrity within their followers lost in World War I. Both leaders represented the glory and esteem that their fellow countrymen saw within themselves. Kallis suggested that this intangible exchange created an unqualified psychological contract between the leaders and followers. In essence, if Hitler and Mussolini could restore their respective countries to greatness, they could garner continual support from constituents. Loyalty among followers grew incrementally as the charisma of the two leaders created a mythology of future prosperity. Hitler and Mussolini became prophets and messiahs to their followers.


Kallis, A. (2006, June). Fascism, ‘charisma’ and ‘charismatisation’: Weber’s model of ‘charismatic domination’ and interwar European fascism. Totalitarian Movements & Political Religion, 7(1), 25-43.

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