Key Characteristics of Charismatic leaders

by Sree Rama Rao on June 23, 2008

Vision and articulation: Has a vision – expressed as a idealized goal – that proposes a future better than the status quo, and is able to clarify the importance of the vision in terms that are understandable to others.

Personal risk: Willing it take on high personal risk, incur high costs and engage in self sacrifice to achieve the visions.

Sensitivity to follower needs: Perceptive of others’ abilities and responsive to their needs ad feelings.

Unconventional Behavior: Engages in behavior that is perceived as novel and counter to norms.

How Charismatic Leaders Influence Followers: How do charismatic leaders actually influence followers? The evidence suggests a four step process. It begins by the leader articulating an appealing vision. A vision is a long term strategy on how to attain a goal or goals. This vision provides a sense of continuity for followers by linking the present with a better future for the organization, For example, at Apple, Steve Jobs championed the iPod, noting. It’s as Apple as anything Apple has ever done. The creation of the iPod achieved Apple’s goal of offering groundbreaking and easy to use technology. Apple’s strategy was to create a product that had a user friendly interface where songs could be quickly uploaded and easily organized It was the first the first major market device to link data storage capabilities with music downloading.

A vision is incomplete unless it has an accompanying vision statements. A vision statement is a formal articulation of an organization’s vision or mission. Charismatic leaders may use vision statements to imprint on followers an overarching goal and purpose. Pepsico, for example, has the following mission statements on its Web site: to be the world’s premier consumers’ product company focused on convenient foods and beverages. We seek to produce healthy financial rewards to investors as we provide opportunities for growth and enrichment to our employees, our business partners and the communities in which we operate. And in everything we do, we strive for honesty fairness and integrity.

Once a vision and vision statements are established, the leader then communicates high performance expectations and expresses confidence that followers can attain them. This enhances follower self esteem and self confidence. Centra Software CEO Paul Gudonis says that conveying confidence is a central tool in a manager’s toolbox.

Next, the leader conveys through words and actions, a new set of values and, by his or her behavior, sets an example for followers to imitate. One study of Israeli bank employees showed, for example, that charismatic leaders were more effective because their employees personally identified with their leaders. Finally, the charismatic leader engages in emotion inducing and often unconventional behavior to demonstrate courage and convictions about the vision. There is an emotional contagion in charismatic leadership were followers catch the emotions their leaders is conveying. The next time you see Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech focus on the reactions of the crowd, and it will bring to light how a charismatic leader can spread his emotion to is followers.

Because the vision is such a critical component of charismatic leadership we should clarify exactly what we mean by the term, identify specific qualities of an effective vision, and offer some examples.

A review of various definitions finds that a vision differs from other forms of direction setting in several ways. A vision has clear and compelling imagery that offers an innovative way to improve, which recognizes and draws on traditions ad connects to actions that people can take to realize change. Vision taps people’s emotions and energy. Properly articulated, a vision creates the enthusiasm that people have for sporting events and other leisure time activities, bringing this energy and commitment to the workplace.





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