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Leader Characteristics

Charismatic leadership is one of four subdivisions of the larger concept of transformational leadership (Bass, 1990). Charismatic leaders are self-confident, dominant, purposeful, articulate, influential, idealistic, and expressive. They have high energy levels, strong convictions, the ability to display empathy, and are risk takers (Bass, 1990). By stimulating "ailing corporations, revitalizing aging bureaucracies or launching new enterprises" (Howell and Avolio, 1995), charismatic leaders demonstrate how truly effective they can be. These leaders are often described as visionaries, with a strong sense of the future and a passion for their vision. They are able to achieve the vision by developing strategies to accomplish the long term goals associated with the vision.

Expressiveness is an important quality in charismatic leaders. Charismatic leaders can utilize nonverbal cues "to move, inspire, or captivate others" (quoted in Bass, 1990). According to Bass (1990) the charismatic's "tone of voice is engaging and captivating, and their facial expressions are animated." Charismatics must convey an aura of complete self-confidence. This self-confidence enables them to become "larger than life" (Bass, 1990) in the eyes of their followers. Another quality attributed to charismatics is eloquence. In order to reach the audience, he must possess the ability to speak directly to them. The message has to reach the audience in a fundamental way, a way which addresses their needs. High energy levels are necessary for a charismatic to be successful. This allows the leader to "relentlessly promote their beliefs with boundless energy" (Howell and Avolio, 1995). Bass (1990) also notes that charismatic leaders are simply "more active." This high energy level helps convey the message that the leader can get the job done. Charismatic leaders are risk takers. They develop highly innovative approaches to problems. They are not afraid to "challenge established practices" (Nur, 1998).

Another aspect of charismatic leadership is the effect the leader has on his followers. The charismatic leader develops good communication with his followers. He works with them so that they actively contribute to and develop the vision; the vision then becomes the property not only of the leader but of his followers. Once they have this buy-in, the followers are willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to achieve the vision. The charismatic leader has the "ability to inspire extraordinary performance in his followers" (Howell and Avolio, 1995). Bass (1990), states that the charismatic leader has the ability to turn "dormant followers into active ones." Charismatic leaders arouse "trust, faith and belief in the leader" (Howell and Avolio, 1995). They also move their followers to become leaders in their own right. But most of all, charismatic leaders inspire a deep devotion in their followers. The effect they have on their followers seems to be their greatest achievement.

Follower Characteristics

Burns (1990) states that "More important than what charismatics do or say is what their different prospective followers feel about them." The followers have an actual need to identify with the charismatic leader (Bass, 1990). Bass (1990) notes that researchers suggest that the followers' identification with these type of leaders "resolve the conflict between our self-image and what we want and think it should be by making the leader the embodiment of our ego ideal." The leader is someone the follower aspires to become. This person, his vision, and the strategies he employs allow the follower to achieve on levels they never thought to attain. They have an unyielding belief in the leader that borders on "devotion, awe, reverence, and blind faith" (quoted in Bass, 1990). They are ready to follow him and accept his leadership unquestionably and unconditionally. Some researchers suggest that people who follow charismatics have low self-esteem, low self-confidence, and feelings of helplessness (Bass, 1990), although this is mainly attributed to religious charismatic followers. Most can agree that mainly, people who chose to follow charismatics are lacking in some area. They have a need that has to be met and the charismatic leader is able to fulfill this need. All in all, many factors have to come together to create the type of person who is ready to follow a charismatic leader.

Cultural and Situational Characteristics

Some believe that a crisis is a necessary component to the rise of a charismatic leader. During times of crisis, the charismatic will emerge with a plan to salvage society (Bass, 1990). This happens not only when there is a major crisis, such as the decline of societal values, but in minor crises as well. This is evident in the rise of charismatics like Martin Luther King, Jr., who responded to the need for blacks to have equality; Adolf Hitler, who rose because of the myriad of suffering faced by the German people; Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who emerged in the midst of the Great Depression; and recently, Rudolph Guiliani, whose following increased immensely in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In business, the charismatic often arises when an established business is failing or an emergent one is besieged by its need to overcome the competition.

Cultural implications play a role in the emergence of charismatic leaders. Bass (1990) notes that the society must have traditions which support charismatics and expectations for their rise. For example, the prophetic traditions of ancient Israel permit the rise of prophets and messiahs. Bass also states that in the Judeo-Christian world the idea of sinfulness is a shared norm and so the charismatic leader would use guilt as a stimulus. Along this same line is the use shame with Oriental followers because of the shared norm of "face." Again, they are successful because they are meeting their followers' need - real or perceived.

Impact on Organizations and Society

The effect that a charismatic leader has on the organization or on the society varies depending on the agenda of the leader. If the leader has positive goals and an optimistic vision then the effect on his followers can be positive. On the other hand, if the vision is altruistic and/or antisocial then the effect on the followers can be negative. "The dedicated follower of one charismatic can be uplifted and moved to a new and better life; the dedicated follower of another can be moved to murder or suicide" (Bass, 1990). There have been examples



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