Charismatic leadership essential - Sample Essay

This report covers charismatic leadership whilst focusing on areas such as what makes an effective leader. Are leaders born with charisma or can this be thought? And finally finish off by covering the common charisma characteristics that leaders such as Hitler, J.F.K and Jim Jones have in common. Introduction The first part of the report will begin by defining what Charismatic leadership is, moving onto the usefulness of having a leader with such a Trait in trying to identify whether or not they are born or made.

The second part of this report will evaluate the common charisterists of Well known leaders and finally finish by concluding on these theories. Northouse (1997, p.132) states that Weber (1947) provides the most well known definition of charisma; he views it as a special personality trait that gives a person superhuman or exceptional powers and is reserved for a few. In another way charisma is described as a special gift that select individuals possess and that gives them the capacity to do extraordinary things.

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Furthermore, Northouse (1997) describes specific types of behaviour typical of charismatic leaders. He has identified specific characteristics: Charismatic leadership is leadership based on the leader’s ability to communicate and behave in ways that reach followers on a basic, emotional way, to inspire and motivate. We often speak of some sports and political leaders as charismatic (or not) — an example being John F. Kennedy. It’s difficult to identify the characteristics that make a leader “charismatic”, but they certainly include the ability to communicate on a very powerful emotional level, and probably include some personality traits.

Developing “charisma” is difficult, if not impossible for many people, but luckily charismatic leadership is not essential to be an effective leader. Many other characteristics are involved in leading effectively, and there is significant evidence to indicate that it simply is not necessary to have this elusive charisma to lead others well. Relying on charisma to lead also can be problematic. For example, there have been many charismatic leaders who lack other leadership characteristics and skills (e.g. integrity) and lead their followers into situations that turn out horribly — think political leaders such as Stalin, Hitler, and even business leaders (Enron).

Finally, in organizations lead by charismatic leaders, there is a major problem regarding succession. What happens when a leader who relies on charisma leaves? Often the organization founders because the ability to lead rested with one person’s charisma. Born with it or Not??? Charisma is an important characteristic for effective leadership, many of the traits that make a successful leader can be taught but not charisma, though one can develop elements of it. An example of this is the fact that a person can take courses to improve their speaking skills, whilst one can also learn to stage events that send powerful messages. One can do more on a daily basis to motivate their team. What a person cannot learn is how to be passionate about what they do as this will need to come from within. It is essential for one to discover this for themselves as passion is a huge part of what drives leaders to be charismatic. It is also what motivates and inspires those who work for the charismatic leader.

The first concept of charismatic leadership was by Max Weber (1864-1920) , in which he recognised that not every individual possess the role of the charismatic leader and states that only exceptional individuals can have such a role, it is a gift, a charismatic leader isn’t necessarily a morally good leader they can be evil, Adolf Hitler as an example had charisma in which he had influenced many to view him as an honourable leader worthy of identification and imitation, he tried to create an atmosphere of change and a vision of a “better world” using unconventional means.

Although some say you’re born with it – you either have charisma or you don’t. While it’s no secret that about 50 percent of charisma is innate, it’s a fact that the other 50 percent can be learned through the use of specific techniques and skills. We say, with the right training and practice, anyone can attain that seemingly elusive and magnetic quality which captivates, influences, leads, and inspires others.

What do leaders Such as Hitler, John Kennedy, Tim Jones etc… Have in common? The leaders such as Hitler, John Kennedy, Tim Jones, they are examples of famous leaders which affecting our human history. They got several common characteristics; they have strong influences on their followers. Hitler started with a small group of followers and got more and more supporters over time, he got power in Germany after World War 1, his beliefs and trusts gain him the support of lower and middle class families.

John Kennedy is the 35th president of US in 1961 and Tim Jones was the leader of the people’s temple, they got great influences to their followers because their belief’s was match to their followers, they know what the social thought and do as a leader , guide them and get supports from them. The leaders have certain common features such as similar beliefs between them and their followers these being; self-confidence and gaining trust from others, they know how to motivate their followers, leading them to achieve their goals and believes such as John Kennedy, he mentioned the minimum wage, trade legislation and other measures for US, he won victories and changed the domestic policies to every US citizens.

The charisma leaders can lead their followers to trust them and follow what they said, like Jim Warren Jones, his followers believed that he got “healed powers” and he created a religious group. Jim would focus his follower’s attention not on the future and on heaven but on the present, finally they took a massive suicide of over 900 temple members. Jim made his followers to believe that they shouldn’t be afraid of death; the revolutionary suicide would protest the conditions of an inhumane world.

Conclusion One can say that being a great and effective leader that one needs to be charismatic. Whilst on the contrary could also be the other way around that to be charismatic one needs to be an effective leader first. (Bennis and Nanus 1997:208) Charisma is to some extent subjective and based upon individual’s perception. The statement that leaders ‘are charismatic’ is a bit too broad as some leaders are charismatic whilst others aren’t. Although charisma is an X factor, it isn’t what necessary makes a leader as one can definetly be a leader but not charismatic as they are just a different type of leaders with different qualities. It is important to bear in mind that leaders are different e.g. situational factor, different leadership traits and style etc..


Northhouse, P.G (2007) Leadership process and organisation 4th edition, UK, Sage Publications.

Piece, J.L, and Newstrom, J.W, (2008) Leaders & the leadership process: readings, self assessments & applications, New York London, McGraw Hill Education.

Trompenaars, A and Hampden-Turner, C (2002) 21 leaders for the 21st century, New York and London, Mcgraw Hill Publications



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