Charisma is a powerful thing. It’s been described as someone who possesses a virtue that sets them apart; someone who is treated as endowed with specifically exceptional powers or qualities. Today charismatic leadership is sought after to challenge the traditional bureaucracy within an organization. Transformative moments in business will typically come from the charismatic, and not from those appointed to positions of leadership.
Whether appointed in an org chart or elected by the people, there are two types of people in business. There are those who see what they want and “go for it”, and there are those who see everything in the way of what they want. Whether you break the rules or enforce them, the only thing you cannot do is prevent others from getting what they want as well. Sometimes this means forgoing choice or control. Where linear thinkers and traditionalists see lack of sympathy, charismatics see fast-tracks and achievement of goals.
Challenging the Status-Quo
Those who are charismatic build a positive image in the eyes of their team and create perceptions of competence and trustworthiness due to a lifestyle; a vision consistent with the values everyone is seeking. Charismatic leaders are able to empower their team through expressing confidence and their ability to perform at an exceptionally high level. They demonstrate optimism, determination, and self-confidence. They also challenge typical thinking by engaging in risk-taking and unconventional behaviors. They are solely driven by their commitment to their values and the vision of the company they are with.
While this can be breathtaking to those in power, it also makes them unpopular with traditionalists. Tenured employees will often see this method of thinking as a challenge to their dedication. By definition, status-quo is the existing state of affairs. Changing the status-quo often means challenging social or political issues and creating new agendas, often times alienating those who invested time following the conservative. They will often see a lack of clarity in their thinking trying to rectify it back to previous situations.
The Emotional Impact
The key differentiator of a charismatic leader is their ability or use linguistics to motivate others. They can effective articulate ideological goals such as honesty, fairness and craftsmanship. Charismatic leaders often make excellent role models because they set a tone for others. They demonstrate traits that are congruent with the company’s needs. This means less care for individuals or social norms. They are empathetic to their teams and the situations the company faces at that moment.
Sympathetic leaders care and support the feelings of others. Empathetic leaders express an understanding without judgement.
The cost of sympathy is the energy of truly caring and feeling for others. The cost of empathy is the energy to be fully present.
The emotional impact of charisma is sometimes seen as careless or unsupportive of feelings. In business this is sometimes true. Charismatic leadership means being fully present in a situation. It means not accepting anything less than what’s needed, and what supports the vision of the company. Sometimes this means sacrificing individual feelings or compassion to those prohibiting forward movement. While this can result in negative situations or ramifications, it ultimately means that a charismatic leader is more likely to result in a positive situation for the majority, and less for individuals.
Good for the Business, Good for the Team
Charismatic leadership focuses on extreme passion. It motivates employees to be their best selves. In times of change or crisis, these leaders are indispensable. Being creative, crafty and communicative are the core competencies of the charismatic. When employed correctly this leadership style usually results in increased employee loyalty and creation of leadership positions throughout the ranks. It can also lend itself to higher productivity and a move towards innovation. When employees are retained, this also means deeper tranches of engineers, specialists and clientele.
Establishing a culture within a company that supports learning, tenacity, humility and self-awareness is typical with a charismatic leader. While not sympathetic, this type of culture supports meaningful connections and the support of non-traditional ideals. What ends up being good for the business is accepted as being good for the team. This tends to be harder to support for individuals with personal circumstances or mediocre performance. Whereas this might be seen as cold, charismatic leadership is about company vision and the focus on principles, not individuals.
Not for every situation…
Depending on the circumstances of the situation and the status of the company, charismatic leaders may not always be what’s needed. Every business needs a visionary. They need someone to inspire employees and commit to their instincts in communication and persuasiveness.
That said, if the business is in a position to deliberate or employ a spirit of collaboration and inclusion, this is a better technique for the sympathetic leader. Democratic organizations rely on highly skilled workers all working individually with unique and non-overlapping techniques. They are sympathetic to the individual. They aren’t motivated by virtues or belief systems. At some point, all businesses tangent into autocratic styles demanding throughput over culture. The consequence is burnout and devolving innovation.
“The essence of competitiveness is liberated when we make people believe in what they think and do is important – and then get out of their way while they do it”