Edward Brown, M.S., of Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute provides questions and answers on the mental inner workings of charismatic leaders.
Q: In the past, you said that your core passion was getting into the minds of charismatic leaders. How do you do that?
Brown: I essentially observe the behavior of individuals who have a preternatural way of capturing imaginations that appear surreal to the average individual. Once I lock into what these individuals are doing, I attempt to explain behavior by using the tenets found in philosophy, psychology, sociology, history, and theology.
Q: So, what are charismatic leaders doing consciously or subconsciously to be successful in their endeavors?
Brown: Fundamentally, charismatic leaders solve problems they find compelling. If there is a difference between the charismatic leader’s approach to a problem compared to the average individual, it is that the charismatic leader becomes a zealot for the solution. The average person does not care that much about the solution to a problem to make it a cause.
Q: What is the charismatic leader’s “inner game?”
Brown: The charismatic leader’s inner game is Machiavellian or amoral in that whatever is required to achieve certain results will be utilized. People and resources become expendable to achieve a goal.
Q: Well, that doesn’t sound positive or does it?
Brown: Conventional wisdom suggests that people should not be used to facilitate an objective. However, in every human endeavor throughout the world, people are being expended to facilitate a particular result every day. On some level, whether it’s a question of war, security or finance, people are being used to affect the will of the nation state. Charismatic leaders do a better marketing job of gaining greater commitments by inspiring the hearts and minds of individuals around an objective.
Q: What do charismatic leaders understand more deeply than traditional leaders?
Brown: Charismatic leaders have an understanding that men have a will to power. Nietzsche said that God was dead and all that was left was the amoral superman. In some respect, the charismatic leader is the amoral superman. Charismatic leaders address the hard-wired need of people to worship heroes as postulated by philosopher Thomas Carlyle. If there isn’t a God, people will invent one. The insatiable need for charismatic leaders to understand human nature underscores their clarity of purpose. The relationship is symbiotic, the people want to adore a leader and the charismatic leader wants to be adored.
Q: What happens when the human frailties of charismatic leaders overtake their God-like persona?
Brown: The charismatic leader that goes so far as to believe his own hype usually causes his own demise. Followers will either become disillusioned and lose faith or consciously overlook the frailties of the leader and focus on his iconic exploits. Either way, there is a seismic shift in the social landscape when the charismatic leader departs, unlike any other leadership model.