Monday, June 27, 2011

Charisma & the Virtue of Selfishness

Dear Mr. Brown:

I either read or saw a video where you promoted the importance of being selfish to acheive success. How do you reconcile people being selfish and charismatic at the same time? Is this an oxymoron?

Theresa Wildenmore
Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear Ms. Wildenmore:

Thank you for your inquiry. Yes, I have talked about being selfish to achieve personal and professional goals. Unfortunately, people connote selfishness as a negative term. Researching the lives of acclaimed individuals from Alexander the Great to Barack Obama has led me to believe that raw, unadulterated ambition by men labeled charismatic is steeped in selfishness. Reportedly, basketball great Michael Jordan said you had to be selfish to achieve greatness, but become less selfish as one achieved their goals. I am not sure how that is done authentically. Microsoft’s Bill Gates was ruthlessly selfish and ambition according to various reports. However, his philanthropic initiatives are unparalleled on the world stage. Does Gates give to worthy causes because he has achieved his aspirations and can afford to do so? Or is his giving a ploy to encourage people to buy and support Microsoft products? We can only speculate.

However, I believe that you can do good and well simultaneously. Being selfish only crystallizes what your intentions are. Once you are clear about your objectives, you can align everything in your life with your ultimate goals. Historically, this is how great feats have been accomplished.

The fundamental factor that makes charismatic people so successful is the keen insight into what they are after as well as a clear understanding of human nature to get there.

Everyone has to decide for themselves what is important and what they can tolerate. To date, if I had made different decisions in life, I could not enjoy the life that I have pursued. It came with setbacks, relentlessness, and yes selfishness. I knew of no other way to effectively perform and the selfishness of other people would have destroyed me.

Edward Brown
Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Does Transformational Leadership Create Charismatic Leaders?

In this Q & A session, researcher on charisma and charismatic leadership, Edward Brown of Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute, provides insight into the possible impact of transformational leadership on charismatic leaders.

Q: What is the difference between transformational leadership and charismatic leadership?

A: Actually, the charismatic leadership model predates the transformational leadership model by several decades. Eminent sociologist, Max Weber (1864-1920) is credited for secularizing the concept of charisma and the charismatic leadership model. James MacGregor Burns is credited with developing the transformational leadership model in 1978.

Essentially, the two leadership models share the same traits. Charismatic leaders and transformational leaders are described as visionaries, inspirational, and great orators. The major distinction researchers make between the models is that charismatic leaders are power driven to complete a mission; whereas transformational leaders empower individuals to become more independent and less dependent on the leader.

Q: Why do you think there is so much disagreement among researchers about transformational leadership versus charismatic leadership?

A: I believe some representatives of the charismatic leadership model have given it a negative connotation. Hitler, Mussolini, and Amin come to mind. Proponents of transformational leadership have taken the positive traits of charismatic leadership and made transformational leadership a morality driven model. Transformational leadership is reminiscent of charismatic leadership when charismatic leadership had a religious connotation attached to it under church historian Rudolph Sohm.

Q: What do you think is the connection between transformational leadership and charismatic leadership?

A: My thoughts are premature on this particular notion. However, I hypothesize that transformational leaders create charismatic leaders.

Q: Could you elaborate?

A: I was trying to decide if Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was more of a transformational leader or a charismatic leader. If he was trying to transform the segregated conditions of his time and the people around him, then he was transformational. But, if he had a selfish motive for his cause, he may be closer to the charismatic leadership model. I surmised that he was transformational in that he transformed legislation, race relations and self-determination for black people. However, the people he transformed appear to operate more to the charismatic leadership model. Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, Ralph David Abernathy, Hosea Williams, John Lewis, and Joseph Lowery fall under the charismatic leadership model. Although they all shared a common experience, each man carved out a niche for himself in the market place. Although they are/were influential, arguably, not one of these men has created an institution bigger than themselves. That is not necessarily a bad thing. I was not attempting to judge the contributions of these men, but determine the difference between transformational leadership and charismatic leadership.

Q: Do any other examples come to mind

A: Yes, Elijah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam was transformational, but Malcolm X and Minister Louis Farrakhan are under the charismatic leadership model. In this regard, charisma can support the work of the transformational leader (Dr. King and Elijah Muhammad) or create a body of work within itself, Steve Jobs and Apple technology products and Denzel Washington and his body of film work.

For more information, visit: Charisma

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Charismatic Move that Almost Worked

In this Q & A session, researcher on charisma and charismatic leadership, Edward Brown of Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute, provides insight into Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh and their attempt to create a NBA championship team.

Q: What makes this experiment to put an NBA championship team together by Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, a charismatic move?

A: It was the first time in recent history, if ever, the proletariat (players) got together to control the means of production (NBA team owners) by creating a brand that could have upset the balance of power. Charismatic leaders often create a vision contrary to the status quo in their quest for power.

Q: In this trio, who is the charismatic leader?
A: There are no real compelling personalities within this trio, but the idea was a charismatic move. The decision for three basketball stars to get together and basically create a basketball team within the NBA system is tantamount to the good old days in street basketball, where one individual (who had the next game) would try to create a powerhouse team by getting all the best available players to become undefeatable on the court. Generally within the NBA, the team coach, scout, and owner try to structure a franchise that has the best chances for a championship win within the salary caps that are available. The move by this trio upended the current system.

Q: What does it mean that the experiment by these players fell short in that they did not win the 2011 NBA Championship?
A: In a practical sense, there is always next year. Viewing the situation from another angle, the three players proved a point that individuals could make creative, charismatic moves inside a traditionally-oriented organization. To almost win the 2011 NBA Championship on an idea concocted by a group of individuals is a phenomenal feat in itself. The NBA owners have to at least consider what the choice for NBA players forming their own team means in terms of power. On one hand, it would appear that power rests with individual players coming together to create a new reality. On the other hand, allowing players (employees) to become creative within a company does not take away from the power of the organization, it enhances it. It was Art Fry at 3M Company that created the Post-It note pad as an entrepreneurial venture inside the 3M Company. From the success of Post-Its, 3M encouraged employees to become more creative as part of 3M’s operational philosophy. To truly upset the means of production, an employee has to have a compelling idea within his own company that competes against a strong established brand. NBA owners do not envision NBA players starting their own teams and restructuring how business is done. It can happen and maybe this trio planted the seed for other players to look past merely being basketball players, but owners within the NBA system.

Q: What do you think is the chance of NBA players becoming owners within a system they play in?
A: Again, it is a novel idea. Two points come to mind: 1.Rapper LL Cool J said it best when he said that just because you can make a cake, does not mean you can operate a bakery. Playing basketball and operating a basketball franchise are totally different, 2. If a rule within the NBA suggested that players cannot own teams, the idea would die an immediate death. An organization is not going to create rules that will lead to its own demise. It will close its doors first.

Q: Although the trio is not necessarily charismatic, their idea was charismatic. How can ideas be charismatic?
A: The Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute defines charisma as “The creating of perceptions that impact the mind and emotions of others through flair, finesse, and glib language.” Lebron James’ self initiated recruitment tour that prompted NBA teams to audition for his services captured the imagination of the sports industry. The surprising revelation that James, Wade, and Bosh had collaborated behind the scene for all of them to play basketball in Miami was even more surprising. There was a great deal of flair and finesse as well as chicanery for the sake of entertainment. Invariably, this was a great win for the NBA as a whole. When the biggest myth makers and cheerleaders are the employees, you truly have an organization where all the stakeholders are dedicated to the brand. After all, we are still talking about basketball—child’s play.

Related: Charisma

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Researching the Charismatic Mind

In this Q & A session, researcher on charisma and charismatic leadership, Edward Brown of Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute, provides insight into charisma and the charismatic mind.

Q: What makes you an expert on charisma?

A: Essentially, I’ve written several books, articles and provided numerous interviews on charisma as a result of a decade of research as well as my ongoing study in this area.

Q: Do you have to be charismatic to talk about charisma?

A: No, not necessarily. Interesting enough, people don’t mind putting me on the spot by asking me if I see myself as being charismatic. I think I was more charismatic before I started researching charisma and charismatic leadership. My intellectual pursuits have made me more analytical, which has taken away some of the magnetism I once possessed.

Q: Interesting, how did that happen?

A: By looking within the inner workings of charismatic personalities, I saw that they could be cold, calculating, focused, disciplined, but also great actors for generating support from followers. The more I engaged in the intellectual side of charisma, the less acting I opted to do.

Q: What has been the result of your not being a good actor?

A: I didn’t say I wasn’t a good actor. I merely opted to spend more time in the laboratory and less time manifesting charisma on the world stage.

Q: Is reclusiveness a part of the charismatic mindset?

A: Reclusion can be a part of the charismatic mindset. Particularly, when he is building momentum for a specific mission. As a visionary, the charismatic personality lives in the field of ideas and parlays these ideas into action once the time is right. He spends more time in isolation and thinking than people realize.

Q: Do you have examples when charismatic personalities have sparked their genius in isolation and later astounded the world with their brilliance.

A: Adolf Hitler wrote his autobiography” Mein Kampf” in prison, which is a great treatise on power. Many of Dr. Martin L. King, Jr.’s greatest speeches were written in jail. Malcolm X was resurrected during his stint in prison. Nelson Mandela’s evolution took place while in prison.

Q: So, does one have to be imprisoned to become a charismatic leader?

A: Not necessarily, but isolation forces the individual, who has the traits of a charismatic leadership, to focus inwardly to begin thinking about a far reaching mission. Such insightful thinking would have been difficult with other responsibilities taking priority.

Q: Pundits have panned charismatic leadership as being more show than substance. Is the charismatic personality more show or substance?

A: I would suggest that ostentation or “showiness” is the manifestation of the substance behind a compelling idea. The flair and finesse of charismatic personalities stem from the passion, energy, and imagination of the charismatic personality. Take away the flair and finesse and you merely have a compelling idea that may or may not be acted upon.

Q: If you had to choose between the charisma of President Barack Obama and that of former President Bill Clinton, who of the two men has the more compelling charisma?

A: Although the two men have extraordinary political skills, President Bill Clinton is a bonafide charismatic personality for a few reasons. One, Clinton had a far reaching vision and plan for politics long before running for office. Second, Clinton opponents after meeting with him marveled at his magnetism and political insights. Third, the Clinton Administration demonstrated the highs and lows indicative of charismatic leadership. Clinton brought out visceral emotions within people. Contrarily, President Obama is very likeable, but has been described by insiders as cold and detached. For many, it is difficult to separate Obama’s historical significance as the first black president of the U.S. as well as the most powerful black man in the history of civilization with that of authentic charisma.

For more information, visit: Charisma