Inspirational approaches to leadership


In this article, we present two contemporary leadership theories with a common theme. They view leaders as individuals who inspire followers through their words, ideas, and behaviors. These theories are charismatic leadership and transformational leadership

Charismatic Leadership:

John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr, Bill Clinton, Indira Gandhi, Atal Behari Vajpyee, Mary Kay Ash (founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics), Steve jobs (co-founder of Apple Computer) and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani are individuals frequently cited as being charismatic leaders. What do they have in common?

According to charismatic leadership theory, followers make attributions of heroic or extraordinary leadership abilities when they observe certain behaviors. Although there have been a number of studies hat have attempted to identify personal characteristics of the charismatic leader, the best documented has isolated five such characteristics that differentiate charismatic leaders from non-charismatic ones—they have a vision, are willing to take risks to achieve that vision, are sensitive to both environmental constraints and follower needs, and exhibit behaviors that are out of the ordinary

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. This vision provides a sense of continuity for followers by linking the present with a better future for the organization.

The leader then communicates high performances expectations and expresses confidence that followers can attain them. This enhances follower self-esteem and self-confidence. Next, the leader conveys, through words, and actions a new set of value by his or her behavior, sets an example for followers to imitate. Finally, the charismatic leader makes self-sacrifices and engages in unconventional behavior to demonstrate courage and convictions about the vision.

Since 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, and 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.

The key properties of a vision seem to be inspirational possibilities that are value-centered, realizable, with superior imagery and articulation. Visions should be able to create possibility that are inspirational, unique, and offer a new a 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. Also, visions that have clear articulation and powerful imagery are more easily grasped and accepted.

In this paragraph are given some other charismatic leadership examples. Munjal of Hero Honda had a clear and focused vision of what he wanted to do in his life, career, and in business. In spite of the other business options coming Hero Honda’s way even within the engineering industry, their focus has been first on bicycles and then on motorcycles. DS Brar of Ranbaxy had clearly delineated the scope of his business. Ranbaxy chose to operate in the pharmaceutical business in the international market and develop its distinctive character and identified as an international company, in spite of heavy odds and high risks. One of Brar’s greatest leadership challenges was to sell the concept of Ranbaxy as an international company to all the employees in the organization. This was the company’s focus between1993 to 1996 and was drummed out at every possible occasion, like an anthem until each and every Ranbaxy employee started to believe in it.