Last Updated on September 5, 2022

Charismatic leadership: definition, characteristics, examples

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Many different methods of management currently utilize throughout different organizations across the world. Some of these include; charismatic leadership, participative leadership, situational leadership, transactional leadership, transformational leadership, micromanagement, etc. However, despite the innate differences, the clear underlying. And the stagnant factor is that a leader must be capable of working with people to achieve the company’s goals or business in question successfully. For that purpose, they must fully understand human behavior and be capable of efficient communication to motivate their subordinates.

In this respect, it’s safe to say that today’s global business conditions have become extreme with huge market competition, technological developments, and ever-changing customer behavior.

This has made it especially tough for small to medium-sized businesses.

As a result of the harsh market conditions for business operations, physical resources, whether financial, technological, etc.… are becoming less and less decisive.

RELATED: A Guide to Leadership Development

As a result, it’s the human resources that are becoming more important for the long-term survival, progress, and development of these companies.

This highlights the necessity for leadership comprised of the right amount of charisma, knowledge, skills.

And abilities to lead the employees into successfully achieving the long-term goals and vision of the organization.

What is charismatic leadership?

Charisma can define a unique trait or talent that some people have.

Which allows them to influence followers and attract their attention and admiration.

Another way to describe is having the kind of natural charm that can inspire devotion in those around you.

If we were to break it down, charisma is a mixture of charm and status.

On this note, the nature of charisma and charismatic leadership has become a popular topic in organisational research in the last decade or so.

In this regard, the topic of impression management has often been discussed by scholars.

Also, propose that charismatic leaders engage in impression management techniques to improve their image of competence.

Thereby increasing the level of faith from their followers.

In other cases, it is reported that charismatic leaders can be distinguished from other leaders by their unique ability to inspire followers to pursue a vision easily.

Based on this, the basic assumption is that charismatic leadership transforms the needs, values, desires.

And aspirations of others from their interests to collective interests.

So that the followers become highly committed to the vision of the leader.

Simply put, a charismatic leader is one that has influence, inspires, motivates, and instills confidence among followers.

And it is these very qualities that he possesses and which differ him from other leaders, that make charisma such a key factor for the business success of SME or any business/corporation for that matter.

What are the main elements of charismatic leadership?

Examples of charismatic leaders lie in many of history’s most effective leaders like Napoleon and De Gaulle in France, Lincoln, and Roosevelt in the United States, Mahatma Gandhi in India, Nelson Mandela in South Africa, etc.

Another famously notable case example was England’s own, Princess Diana.

Charismatic leadership is evident when a large number of followers are moved to action, motivated by the aura of someone who, for extraordinary reasons, can easily captivate a vast audience.

In fact, of late, there has been that same sort of huge effect on a big group of followers by the influence of major celebrities in industries like music and sport.

Moreover, some people achieve so much success that they can transfer their reputations and followings to entirely different arenas, for example, Victoria Beckham.

She successfully adjusted and built a large following from being a pop star to then entering the fashion and business sectors.

As well as, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the body-builder and former actor, became a governor for the state of California.

This brings us to what it is that makes up charismatic leadership:

What is it exactly that led their followers to believe in them so much?

All of these leaders had unique traits and charismatic qualities, which made them powerful agents of social change.

These leaders had gained the trust of their followers to such an extent that their followers ended up perceiving them as gifted.

And possessing unique abilities that allow them to do things that seem beyond the capacity of most people.

In other words, how successful, charismatic leaders can be is largely dependent on how much they thought to be gifted by their followers.

If followers don’t fully believe in their leaders, then the charismatic influence structure breaks down.

And leaders no longer have the ability to influence them anymore.

In this regard, if we were to break it down, there are usually 5 main charismatic qualities make up transformational leadership.

These include:

1. Confidence

Charismatic leadership is forme when leaders have attractive personalities that people are naturally attracted to.

Quite a bit of that fascination originates from the way that they radiate confidence.

Self-assured leaders have a solid feeling of self and seldom question themselves and their decisions in the workplace.

They comprehend their identity and are agreeable in their skin.

To have charismatic leadership as a quality, you have to practice self-assurance, which also tends to involve some risk-taking on your part.

2. Creativity

Charismatic leaders have the ability to think on their feet and come up with new out of the box ideas.

And aren’t reluctant to take them to their breaking points.

While others may see this sort of push as unsafe, these leaders drive the way and drive advancement.

At the point when an issue emerges, leaders don’t see just the troubles.

Rather, through effective transformational leadership, they adapt to present circumstances and react accordingly.

3. Vision

Charismatic leaders are often focusing on the future, the constant evolution of the business, and how they can make it better.

They have a dream and carrying that propels and moves others along with them.

Being charismatic enables leaders to be versatile and effectively utilise their follower’s devotion and duty.

Moreover, employees are motivated by charming leaders since they see an opportunity to accomplish their very own goals and objectives.

In other words, charismatic leaders ought to not just need to emerge inside a business; they ought to want to change the business for the better.

4. Determination

Determination, truth be told, is what ends up driving most charismatic leaders forward.

To accomplish their dreams, charismatic leaders set particular objectives and work to accomplish them by uniting their groups, building up a composed system, and buckling down to make their vision a reality.

They don’t surrender when circumstances become difficult.

Rather, they are center on getting results and achieving what they set out to do by plugging away without fail until they accomplish whatever they set out to do.

5. Communication

Whenever charismatic leaders speak, they have certainty in their voice, which influences them to sit up and focus.

And, they are clear and well-spoken, giving the substance and meaning of their words.

Giving the impression that every announcement should not take lightly, no matter how big or small.

Are also likewise mindful of their non-verbal communication.

They have a confident posture and can keep eye contact with every person they are conversing with.

They are also happy with talking before expansive gatherings and also one on one.

These are all characterised of transformational leadership, as regardless of the circumstance, they explain their objectives and vision.

Charismatic leaders also make their followers feel that they are at the very core of everything going on and not left out.

This allows their followers to feel part of the accomplishments within the enterprise.

When that occurs, the followers start to feel focused, which gives their work meaning.

What are the benefits of a charismatic leader to a business?

Being a charismatic leader has many advantages.

Employees prefer to be under someone with the verbal and listening skills that allow them to feel needed and appreciated in the workplace.

Such a person encourages and congratulates their subordinates even when times are tough.

Thereby providing the right conditions for them to excel.

Some of the common benefits of having transformational leadership come with charismatic qualities such as:

1. Highlights the importance of a supportive workplace

A charismatic leader is someone who can inspire, motivate, and push their followers to new highs.

Their charming personalities allow them to motivate complacent workers and produce results that others, leaders are perhaps unable to.

Employees will feel they matter; therefore, they will be happier in their position and strive to excel under this form of transformational leadership.

2. Promotes A Positive Work Environment

Charismatic leaders make the work environment a pleasurable place to be in as a result of their unique personalities, potent work drive, and expectations.

They encourage employees to come to work compared to if they were working for a dull, pencil-pushing, results-driven manager.

Moreover, charismatic leaders are often pushing their followers to excel with more wins within the enterprise.

And this is what transformational leadership is all about.

The work environment that this leader is in is less stressful and more conducive to productivity.

3. Improves Productivity

Charismatic leaders always encourage employees to want to do their best.

The level of employee absenteeism, poor attitudes, and incompetency will recede once they have a trustworthy leader and lead by example.

This form of transformational leadership will eventually lead to less training needed and more productivity.

The likelihood of employees showing long term loyalty and support in the organization will flourish if their leader is someone they enjoy working with.

4. Encourages Organizational Growth

A charismatic leader will bring positive attention to the department they are in charge of as the likelihood of growth and workplace promotion in the business increases.

Most especially if they are given adequate support from their subordinates and show exceptional and transformational leadership skills.

In other words, charismatic leadership is significantly treasure by many companies.

And the result is that promotional opportunities tend to go up, especially in careers like sales or hospitality, where there is a high level of customer relations.

5. Positive Example/Role Model for Employees

Charismatic leadership qualities can be rather infectious in the workplace as workers resemble the same work attitude and excitement.

And also, confidence and vigor as their leaders.

With this kind of transformational leadership, many employees can develop into good leaders themselves.

Especially if the leader in question is someone who takes note of their potential for future growth and promotion.

What are the dangers of charismatic leadership?

It can be a rather enjoyable experience to have a leader to follow, especially if it’s a charismatic one.

To have a leader who can get you excited about a vision and the means to achieve it.

It’s a common human instinct.

However, despite the benefits of charismatic leadership, there is also a dark side to charismatic power.

This is because charismatic leaders are still people with their traits, and these same individuals may have bad traits that may negatively affect the organization.

A charismatic leader with poor decision-making qualities may blind the company vision and easily get away with it as the followers are loyal to their leader.

Moreover, a charismatic leader may use his influence to manipulate the management and the employees to accomplish his/her selfish ambitions.

This leads to excessive narcissism and, in some cases, could also lead to increased opportunity for corruption.

For instance, a charismatic leader can present false confidence to stakeholders and owners about a company’s financial state or public image than is real.

The impression management skills

In such cases, the charismatic leaders have makes it a powerful tool for them to hide any corrupt behaviors within the business or enterprise.

Moreover, a charismatic leader’s mistakes may overlook as the followers may fear to offend their leader.

A strong feeling of admiration or loyalty towards a charismatic leader affects subordinates with them going above and beyond for them, trying to impress them or gain their favor.

This is clear as history is full of examples of charismatic leaders who took advantage of the very people around them to accomplish their selfish ambitions.

It’s something that can be seen even these days from the best CEOs, presidents, or celebrity entertainers.

As such, this charismatic charm can be both a blessing and a curse.

Charismatic leadership involves leading people ahead—and sometimes astray.

They can be stubborn, impulsive, unpredictable, and infuriating to work for.

Charismatic leaders can often found in various authoritarian states, autocracies, dictatorships, and some cases, democracies.

In such cases, therein lies an effect, where followers do everything, whether it be wrong or right, to simply accommodate their leaders.

This awe-inducing effect can be so serious that in some cases that when the leader dies or vacates the role.

And a new charismatic leader isn’t installed in their place, then said nation or organization is likely to fall or decline soon after.

A prime yet extreme case example is Hitler’s Nazi movement.

If we were to use Steve Jobs, one of history’s most charismatic leaders as an example, some of the most common negative consequences include:

Excessive confidence can be misleading

A prime example was when Steve Jobs got kicked out of Apple in 1985, forcing him to leave the very company he founded unexpectedly.

Dependence on the leader can compromise plans for successors

Around the time of Steve Jobs’ health scare, Apple’s stocks dropped.

A major contributing factor was because Apple had been silent about its succession plan.

Failure to build up a new successor results in a leadership crisis

Jobs was deeply involved in almost everything relating to Apple’s development and design, which created a situation where he was so irreplaceable that no amount of succession planning was going to ensure a seamless power transition.

Denial of problems and failures

One of the biggest weaknesses that most charismatic leaders come with is their failure to learn in some cases.

This can put down to sometimes falling prey to their charms, making them refuse to budge on their ideas if/when contradicted, which can prove fatal.

However, we should keep in mind that there’s a common distinction between two different kinds of charismatic leadership.

Personalised charismatic leaders described as self-obsessed, exploitative people who only act in their interests.

The other category falls into the category of socialized charismatic leaders.

Who can describe as being democratic, fair, non-exploitative, and have the best interests of those around them first.

For these reasons, charismatic leadership tends to create some potentially big risks for followers and others in general.

Can charismatic leadership be taught?

The big question regarding charismatic leadership has been whether it can teach or if it’s a quality built from the personal experiences people grow up with?

It’s no secret that some people would like us to believe that their charisma is an inborn trait, fully formed from day one.

And while some have a natural affinity for charismatic communication compared to most.

That is not an indication that only a few people can have it or that leaders without charisma can’t learn it.

You do not have to naturally radiate great social skills, a strong personality, or good looks to have charisma.

Charismatic leadership qualities can be built up and practiced just like any other skill.

First, you must believe and convince yourself that it is possible to become a charismatic person and deserve the rewards that it can bring.

Some of the factors you can practice to build charismatic leadership and gain loyal followers include:

1. Showing integrity

One of the keys determine factors that can help you build charismatic leadership is having integrity and being uncompromising about it.

If others around you don’t sense any false imagery or personas around you and understand what you stand for, they will inevitably develop an attitude of trust.

Because they will appreciate your authenticity inside and outside the organization.

2. Being more transparent

You should learn how to share your concerns if you want to be charismatic within your workplace or among your co-workers.

Clear communication of what you want and is necessary when trying to work on projects effectively.

If you try to hide the real reasons or opinions, only to raise it later after something goes wrong.

You will only generate distrust because people will detect that we are not honest or transparent.

If you are clear and open with your goals and intentions from the start, you gain charismatic leadership as a quality.

3. Showing more emotion

Words can only take you so far.

A charismatic leader needs to be able to relate to his employees as people.

This means learning how to sympathize with their respective circumstances.

As such, a charismatic leader knows the impact emotion has when it comes to communication.

After all, comprehending someone else’s situation is one thing, but showing genuine concern is another.

This is what defines transformational leadership in the workplace and separates leaders who lead with genuine authority.

That from those who can lead simply because they have appointed.

4. Taking time to be more knowledgable and less ignorant

If we want to be more charismatic and gain the trust of the people around us.

We must be willing to develop our abilities, skills, and knowledge to become experts in our chosen fields.

This involves more training, researching, and consistently being updated on what is happening in the sector.

These are the things that will help you better understand your environment, leading you to be an expert in your field.

And those around you will come to you for advice and help.

At which point, you become a charismatic leader and can take charge through effective transformational leadership with followers to boot.

5. Being more optimistic and empowering

Negative self-talk can quite easily become a habit, so it’s best to nip it in the bud as quickly as possible.

This is because it reinforces a negative image of yourself and your performance.

This, in turn, affects your self-confidence, which is essentially the core of what makes you a charismatic person.

Moreover, charismatic people often recognize that they are not always the smartest or most experienced person in the room.

The key is to constantly build people up, which creates trust, builds up loyalty, and a strong level of confidence from your followers on your ability to lead.

6. Having a stronger commitment

Having charismatic leadership qualities mean nothing if you do not have a strong commitment to achieving your goals.

The people under you and around you want certainty and credibility.

If you are not committed to the message you portray and what you want to achieve, they have no reason to follow you.

Moreover, when it comes to charismatic leadership, having a strong level of commitment in your cause encourages a strong sense of passion.

It is essential to have followers buy into your mission.

Once they believe in you as a leader and see where you are going, the followers will have your back moving forward.


The art of charismatic leadership is knowing the right time to use the authority/influence given to you when to ask when to tell, when to take charge, and when to leave it in the hands of your subordinates confidently.

In every case, leaders and managers must understand the range of influence techniques they can use, know when and how to use them.

And build upon them so that they can consistently influence and guide their followers effectively.

It is also important for companies to recognize that charismatic leaders can positively and negatively affect them and their employees.

The question that merits a thought is if the positive effects are sufficiently significant to warrant the risks of appointing a charismatic leader.

But then again, we also need to consider that the challenges that come with the ever-changing world economy require a better, faster.

And a more efficient response of all enterprises to preserve and enhance their competitive position.

In this regard, the employees, especially the leader, have become a key source of competitive advantage for enterprises.

This suggests the need for a gradual acceptance and cautious implementation of transformational and charismatic leadership to a greater extent by organizations everywhere.

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