Thursday, May 6, 2010

Charismatic Leadership: Going Against the Grain

Charismatic leaders have often been lambasted for creating chaos and shaking things up within organizations and on the world stage. One typical criticism might be,”He’s trying to change the way we do things around here—overnight.” Another criticism is taking on more responsibility than the capacity of an organization allows. While these assessments may be warranted, what really is going on inside the charismatic that tumult is almost implored? In short, why must he go against the grain? While this core question goes to the heart of charismatic motivation requiring expansive discussion, the fundamental reason charismatics go against the grain is the rightness of their cause and the certainty of their ideas. This sounds pretty cliché’ given the fact that many people who are not charismatic share similar sentiments. However, there is a difference. While many non-charismatics are content to express a contrary opinion on occasion, charismatics have an insatiable need to live a contrarian worldview. They view the world from a perspective not even conceived by the masses. This is more the case when the charismatic is a voracious reader. Left alone in the field of ideas, the unthinkable is possible. To the charismatic, his lineage is tied to the likes of Alexander the Great, Hannibal and Napoleon. His reading varied from Machiavelli to Rousseau. Not only are his visions epic, his imagination is kaleidoscopic. With all this internal activity going on, how could the charismatic not see the world different from dilettantes and neophytes? If anything, he is a prisoner in an external world of mediocrity and apathy.

But, lamentations are not necessary for the plight of the charismatic as he traverses the path of his ambitions. No more than for the plight of biological and environmental conditions that produce any entity that is occasionally at odds with its social environment. Why do charismatics go against the grain? Because they have to! If it is a choice, the choice is so compelling, it feels like a compulsion.

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