Sunday, September 25, 2011

Environments for Charismatic Leadership

Shamir and Howell (1999) spoke about the environmental conditions best suited and most ill-suited for charismatic leaders. Shamir and Howell said charismatic leaders are more likely to emerge in weak or uncertain environments where performance is difficult to measure, because emotions run high and individuals are easier to influence in their desire for things to return to normal. Conversely, charismatic leaders are ill-suited when environmental conditions are strong or stable, because individuals are more certain and rational requiring more transactional rewards for increased productivity. The determination of whether environmental conditions are weak or strong is purely subjective and decided by employees.


Shamir, B., and Howell, J.M. (1999 Summer). Organizational and contextual influences on the emergence and effectiveness of charismatic leadership. Leadership Quarterly, 10(2), 257.

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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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Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Charismatic Leader's Speaking Style

DeVries, Bakker-Pieper, and Oostenveld (2010) noted the dynamics of charismatic leader’s communication style. They submitted that a charismatic leader’s communication style is characterized as assured, supportive, argumentative, precise, and verbally non-aggressive. These authors also found that expressiveness was not believed to be related to charismatic leadership. DeVries, Bakker-Pieper, and Oostenveld said that expressiveness is not a necessary trait for charismatic leaders to reach their goals. Mahatma Gandhi is an example of a less expressive charismatic leader, yet effective. In addition, preciseness of a charismatic leader’s communication style had a significant effect on the leader’s performance and satisfaction by subordinates. A charismatic leader’s preciseness, together with the leader’s supportiveness, lent greatly to enhancing subordinates knowledge collecting from the leader.


DeVries, R., Bakker-Pieper, A., and Oostenveld, W. (2010 Sep.). Leadership=communication? The relations of leaders’ communication styles with leadership styles, knowledge sharing and leadership outcomes. Journal of Business & Psychology, 25(3), 367-380.

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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