The word “charisma” comes from the Greek and means “grace’ or “gift.” In the early Christian church it was used to describe one of several possible manifestations of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Today charisma is regarded by most as the persuasiveness, and personal magnetism, that enables one to lead and to attract followers. (Often, although not exclusively, charisma is coupled with physical attractiveness).
In a leadership setting, charisma is a valuable asset. That is not to say that there are not very effective leaders with a low charisma quotient (Microsoft founder Bill Gates, for example, or former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright). And there are many charismatic leaders who have not achieved their visionary goals – oftentimes to the disillusionment of their followers and supporters.
Can charisma be learned? There have been some academic studies which have shown that some of the aspects of charismatic leadership (public presence, persuasive speaking, body language) can indeed be taught.
There is some wariness about charismatic leaders, especially in traditional organizations that prize continuity and an orderly process in decision making.
J.W. Gannon, J.C. Hannon and C.W. Blackwell, in an article in The Journal of Leadership Studies (1998) noted that:
If you are being led by a charismatic, your organization is in for an exciting, emotional time. Effective followers will withhold instant allegiance to the charismatic and take a fair look at the person's intentions and actions.
It is not unusual for a charismatic leader to face some suspicion. From an organizational perspective it is important to determine how much of a personal agenda a newly-appointed charismatic leader has – unfortunately some of those who are strongly charismatic are also narcissists and may not have the best interests of the organization at heart.
Copyright © 2007 MindEdge
Click a star to rate this: