Sunday, August 1, 2010

Are Charismatic Leaders Motivated By A Love For People?

Often, the notion of charismatic leaders having a great affinity for people is attributed to this form of leadership. However, the charismatic leader’s desire for power and control comes into question as to whether the love of people is a motivating factor. McClelland (1985), under the Leader Motive Profile, asserts that effective leaders have: A high conscious need for power, low need for affiliation and a high concern for moral use of power. Weighing these traits with charismatic leaders, charismatic leaders are motivated by a great need for power. Their self-identity hinges on vainglorious and missionary pursuits. Also, charismatic leaders live in the field of ideas and imagination and thus do not necessarily form close relational bonds or affiliations. Their advanced interpersonal relationship skills tend to make associates, colleagues and followers feel closer to them then they actually are. Finally, charismatic leaders’ use of moral power is largely subjective. In a Machiavellian sense, they use morality interchangeably based on the needs of the situation.

In the end, the mission of charismatic leaders supersedes a passion for people. People are mere means for accomplishing a vision. Followers become enraptured in a task bigger than themselves, which give them a purpose for existing and societal needs are fulfilled through the sheer force, determination and fortitude of the charismatic leader. Arguably, without the efforts of the charismatic leader, great achievements would be far and few between.

McClelland, D.C. (1985). Human motivation. Chicago: Scott, Foresman and Co.

Related: Charisma

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