The charismatic leadership style is one of three types of leadership that were described by Max Weber in 1947, along with the traditional and bureaucratic leadership styles, and is based on a form of heroism or extreme of character that is almost divine in origin. Weber was the first to distinguish transformational leaders, such as charismatic leaders, from transactional leaders, such as bureaucratic leaders, but he believed that most leaders exhibit characteristics of all styles.
Pros of a Charismatic Leadership Style
1. It maintains employee support.
A charismatic leader would motivate and inspire an average employee to stretch his abilities. His magnetic personalities seem to light a fire within plodding and normally complacent workers to produce great results. Most of the time, employees feel that their concerns and opinions matter under this type of leadership, thus making them happier in their positions.
2. It provides a good leadership example for employees.
A charismatic leadership style would have a trickle-down effect on the organization, where staff will take on much of management’s optimism, confidence, work attitude and higher personal expectations. In fact, many employees may become great leaders themselves if someone in charge takes a special interest in their potential for growth and promotion.
3. It fosters a fun and improved work environment.
It is a trait of charismatic leaders to make their workplaces more interesting, while still challenging, through their enthusiasm, personality, expectations and drive, so it would be more enticing for employees to come to work than reporting to a pencil-pushing, results-driven and dull manager. As you may know, these leaders are often the cheerleaders of an organization, who push their people to score the most wins within the corporate structure. The environment under their supervision would usually be less stressful and more conducive to productivity.
4. It offers growth opportunities.
In charismatic leadership, managers will call positive attention to themselves to the higher-ups, such as the owners. Opportunities for growth and promotion will improve, especially if they have their employees’ support and have shown quality and exceptional leadership skills. Greatly valued by many organizations, this type of leadership increases promotional opportunities in careers with high customer contact, such as those in the sales and the hospitality industries, where people skills can be used for the better.
strong>5. It can lead to higher production.
This leadership style will make employees want to do their best. Tardiness, absenteeism, below-standard work quality and poor working attitudes will be decreased or even eliminated with a leader whom employees can look up to and trust. Also, turnover would slow down, resulting in a lesser need for training and more productivity. On the part of employees, they will do their best to support the company even during difficult times.
Cons of a Charismatic Leadership Style
1. It risks lack of clarity.
Getting caught up in their control, charismatic leaders sometimes are unable to clearly see potential dangers that are looming within the organization. Also, the confidence they have in their abilities makes them feel that success will continue indefinitely. By not having other management personnel with the same information, they may potentially miss a threat to their businesses’ financial welfare.
2. It would heavily rely on the leader.
While staff members may find inspiration in this leadership style, they may also rely too heavily on the person in charge. They may begin associating the company’s success solely with their leader and may fail to see that all of them are a valuable part of it, saddling the leader with a huge responsibility in keeping the company afloat, while motivating staff.
3. It can result to lack of successors and visionaries.
As they believe in themselves too much, charismatic leaders would often retain the majority of control in the office, which might lead him to have difficulties in turning over control to others. This situation can potentially leave the company without any knowledgeable successors, should the current leader leave, and make its vision for the future limited.
4. It can bring about a negative perception on the leader.
While a lot of charismatic leaders are winning over employees, some of them who take on the role for self-serving reasons may not be able to get their employees to buy into their intentions. Charisma, alone, is not enough to make a quality leader, who must have the best intentions of the company at heart, with other essential qualities to back up his charisma.
Understanding This Leadership Style
Some people argue that charisma is not a prerequisite for effective leadership, which is a point made by Davis Dyer, founding director of the Winthrop Group in Massachusetts and Christian Stadler, associate professor of strategic management at Warwick Business School in the UK, in the article, “Why Good Leaders Don’t Need Charisma.” Well, both autocratic and charismatic leadership styles often increase employee productivity, and the only key difference is that autocratic leaders use power to demand high performance, while charismatic leaders typically inspire employees to perform. And while their short-term results are identical, long-term consequences may prove otherwise.
One good example of a crossover between autocratic and charismatic leadership styles is charismatic leaders structuring their organizations as they see fit. Also, both may generate early burnout of the leaders, as well as the followers. However, it is important not to become blinded by labels of leadership style and learn their components. One good way to do this is looking into their pros and cons, aside from their characteristics.
This leadership style has many advantages. After all, charisma is often seen as a powerful tool in motivating staff and gaining the support of employees. But while a charismatic leader has the capability to exert his influence on producing positive results for the company, potential drawbacks can also exist. By understanding the pros and cons, the charismatic leadership style can be used in a positive and fruitful way.
Examples of Charismatic Leaders
Founder and CEO of Revolutionary Leaders, a nonpartisan, campaigning organization that is focused on developing leaders committed to democracy and freedom, John C. Welch IV, shared great examples of charismatic leaders, including Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Eva Perón and Bill Clinton.