Situation and Charisma

Does Effective Charismatic Leadership depend on the Situation? There is an increasing body of research that shows impressive correlations between charismatic leadership and high performance and satisfaction among followers. People working for charismatic leaders are motivated to exert extra work effort and because they like and respect their leader, express greater satisfaction. It also appears that organizations with charismatic CEOs are more profitable. And charismatic college professors enjoy higher course evaluations. However, there is a growing body of evidence indicating that charisma may not always be generalized; that is, its effectiveness may depend on the situation. Charisma appears to be most successful when the follower‘s task has an ideological component or when the environment involves a high degree of stress and certainty. This may explain why, charismatic leaders surface and it is more likely to be in politics, religion wartime, or when a business firms is in its infancy or facing a life threatening crisis For example, in the 1930s, Franklin D Roosevelt offered a vision to get Americans out of the Great Depression. In the early 1970s, when Chrysler Corp was on the brink of bankruptcy, it needed a charismatic leader with unconventional ideas like Lee lacocca to reinvent the company. In 1997, when Apple Computer was floundering and lacking direction, the board persuaded charismatic cofounder Steve Jobs to return as interim CEO and to inspire the company to return to its innovative roots.

In addition to ideology and uncertainly, another situational factor limiting charisma appears to be level in the organization. Remember, the creation of a vision is a key component of charisma. But visions typically apply to entire organizations or major divisions. They tend to be created by top executives. As such, charisma probably has more direct relevance to explaining the success and failures of chief executives than of lower level managers. So even tough individuals may have an inspiring personality, it’s more difficult to utilize their charismatic leadership qualities in lower level management jobs Lower level managers can create visions to lead their units It’s just harder to define such icons and align them with the larger goals of the organization as a whole.

Finally, charismatic leadership may affect some followers more than others. Research suggest, for example, that people are especially receptive to charismatic leadership when they sense a crisis, when they are under stress, or when they fear for their lives. More generally, some peoples’ personalities are more susceptible to charismatic leadership. Consider he is more likely to absorb a leader’s reaction rather than establish his own way of leading or thinking.

What are some examples of visions? Rupert Murdoch had a vision of the future of the communications industry by combining entertainment and media Through News Corporation Murdoch has successfully integrated a broad cast network TV stations movie studio publishing and global satellite distribution, John Malone of Liberty Media calls News Corporation the best run most strategically positioned vertically integrated media company in the world. The late Mary Kay Ash’s vision of women as entrepreneurs selling products that improved their self image has impetus to her cosmetics company. And Michael Dell has created a vision of a business that allows Dell Computer to sell and deliver a finished PC directly to a customer in fewer than 8 days.

The key properties of a vision have inspirational possibilities that are value centered, realizable, with superior imagery and articulation. Visions should be able to create possibilities that are inspirational and unique and that offer a new order that can produce organizational distinction. A vision is likely to fail if it doesn’t offer a view of the future that is clearly and demonstrably better for the organization and its members. Desirable visions fit the times and circumstances and reflect the uniqueness of the organization. People in the organization must also believe that the vision is attainable. It should be perceived as challenging yet doable. So, visions that have clear articulation and powerful imagery are more easily grasped and accepted.