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Charismatic Leadership

Leadership for Lean Manufacturing

What Is Charisma?

Charisma (defined in the box) is an elusive, personal quality that involves not just the leader but also the follower's perceptions. Hence we must examine the follower's reactions to adequately identify the Charismatic Leader.

It is emotional in nature. Followers believe in the leader, his/her values and goals,  primarily on an emotional basis. Rationality takes a back seat.

Activities & Competencies

Our discussion here is about the Charismatic- Transformational Leader. Such leaders have all of the qualities of the Transformational Leader with the added qualities of the Charismatic Leader.

Charisma--A spiritual power or personal quality that gives an individual influence or authority over large numbers of people.

Random House Unabridged Dictionary

Joseph Strauss-Engineering Leader

Great Leaders-Joseph Strauss, "The Man Who Built The Bridge"

Personal Characteristics

Charismatic leaders have a deep self-confidence derived from self-knowledge. They have thought things through and have little inner conflict or doubt.

Application Level

Charismatic-Transformational Leadership applies to the most difficult and complex organizational problems. These problems involve culture, values and paradigms in addition to the more technical problems.

Level Activities & Competencies Personal Characteristics


Charismatic- Transformational

  • All of Level III +...

  • Personal Charisma

  • All of Level III +...
  • Self-Confident
  • Knows Him/Herself
  • Eloquent
  • Free of Internal Conflict
  • Expressive  Emotionally


The Dark Side of Charisma

Ethical Issues

Charismatic Leadership is ethically neutral. Leaders may use it for good or evil. For example, Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt and Hitler were all Charismatic Leaders.

It is also necessary to distinguish between the pure Charismatic and the Charismatic- Transformational Leader. When viewing these pages and the other literature, you must infer from the context whether the discussion is about the pure Charismatic or Transformational-Charismatic Leader.

Checks & Balances

Charisma does not confer wisdom or even knowledge on the leader who possesses it. Such leaders are free from internal conflict and have high confidence in their own ability. Their disciples also have high, sometimes misplaced, confidence in their leader.

If the Charismatic Leader is wrong about the direction and goals set for the organization, there is little opportunity to question or correct that direction. There are many examples of Charismatic Leaders who take their firms down the wrong path.

Corporate Culture

Charisma rarely sways everyone in the organization. Charisma to one follower may be arrogance to another. Those who do not fall under the spell often work against the Charismatic Leader.

Charismatic Leaders often have trouble in the middle-management ranks of stable organizations. People in other areas view them as threatening and dangerous. For this reason, those with charismatic qualities should pay extra attention to the sensibilities of their peers and superiors.

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