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Charismatic Leadership: Theory and Reflection Completed by University of Outline 1. Introduction a. Definition of charismatic leadership 2. Relevant theories and ideas associated with this type of leadership 3. Various teachable points of view on leadership 4. The view of charismatic leadership from an individual, team, and organizational perspective 5. Conclusion 6. References There are a number of leadership theories of the second generation that emphasize such matters as the emotional attachment followers feel for the leader, the arousal of followers by the leader, enhancement of follower commitment to the mission set forth by the leader, follower trust and confidence in the leader, follower value orientations, and follower intrinsic motives. Leadership of this kind gives meaningfulness to follower activities by providing a sense of moral purpose and commitment. Leader behavior remains of concern, but it deals with symbolic acts, visionary messages, intellectual stimulation, displays of confidence in self and followers as well, expectations of personal sacrifice, and exhortations to performance beyond normal requirements (House 1996). Theories of this nature have their origins in the concept of charisma as articulated by Max Weber. They attempt to build on that construct, to fill in the blanks and iron out the inconsistencies, as well as to formulate propositions and hypotheses that are readily testable. One of the theories of this kind is detailed and evaluated in this paper – Robert House’s charismatic leadership theory. This formulation is the best known and most widely researched of the genre. We will consider House’s charismatic leadership theory in this paper. In 1996 House formulated an updated version of that theory as it related to work unit leadership (House 1996). This statement lists 26 propositions that were categorized under the leader behaviors involved. One of the latter is labeled value-based behavior (articulate a vision, display passion for the vision, demonstrate confidence in vision attainment, arouse non-conscious relevant follower motives, take risks to attain the vision, communicate high expectations, use symbolic behaviors to emphasize vision values, exhibit positive evaluations of followers frequently). Three propositions dealing with value-based leadership are specified: numbers 23, 24, and 25. All this sounds very much like charismatic leadership, and in fact it is. The charismatic theory had existed for almost 20 years at this point, and the three propositions of path-goal theory represent an attempt to bridge the two approaches. Yet in many respects path-goal theory is an effort to deal with the task of supervising work units within hierarchic organizations, while charismatic theory more often deals with leading organizations as a whole.
In spite of the three propositions, the two theories tend to function in separate domains. House’s background is described here. The debt to Weber has already been noted. In addition, a major influence stemmed from the political science and sociological literature that built on Weber, including Amatai Etzioni’s work. Into this background House integrated certain of the relevant research from psychology. He was particularly influenced by the thinking of David McClelland, which was interpreted for him by David Berlew, a former student of McClelland’s. He says, “I learned a great deal from my conversations with Dave. He was a major influence on my thinking and the stimulus for the development of the 1976 theory” (House 1996, p. 63). This work by House on power is closely related to the charismatic leadership theory, but it is an independent theory and is not treated directly here. House’s charismatic theory is stated in terms of various sets of propositions that extend from 1977 to 1999, and which may in fact not yet be ended. However, the key propositions of the theory appear, at least at this point, to have already been set in print. House (1977) defines charismatic leadership as referring to a leader who has charismatic effects on followers to an unusually high degree. These effects include devotion, trust, unquestioned obedience, loyalty, commitment, identification, confidence in the ability to achieve goals, and radical changes in beliefs and values. This definition is said to be free of tautology because the effects are operationally determined by independent observers. The propositions follow: 1. Characteristics that differentiate leaders who have charismatic effects on subordinates from leaders who do not have such charismatic effects are dominance and self-confidence, need for influence, and a strong conviction in the moral righteousness of their beliefs. 2. The more favorable the perceptions of the potential follower toward a leader, the more the follower will model (a) the valences of the leader; (b) the expectations of the leader that effective performance will result in desired or undesired outcomes for the follower; (c) the emotional responses of the leader to work-related stimuli; and (d) the attitudes of the leader toward work and toward the organization. 3. Leaders who have charismatic effects are more likely to engage in behaviors that are designed to create the impression of competence and success than are leaders who do not have such effects. 4. Leaders who have charismatic effects are more likely to articulate ideological goals than are leaders who do not have such effects. 5. Leaders who simultaneously communicate high expectations of and confidence in followers are more likely to have followers who accept the goals of the leader and believe that they can contribute to goal accomplishment and are more likely to have followers who strive to meet specific and challenging performance standards.
6. Leaders who have charismatic effects are more likely to engage in behaviors that arouse motives relevant to the accomplishment of the mission than are leaders who do not have charismatic effects. 7. Leaders are more likely to have charismatic effects in situations stressful for followers than in non-stressful situations. Further, it can be hypothesized that persons with the characteristics of dominance, self-confidence, need for influence, and strong convictions will be more likely to emerge as leaders under stressful conditions. Whether or not follower distress is a necessary condition for leaders to have charismatic effects or for persons with such characteristics to emerge as leaders is an empirical question that remains to be tested. 8. A necessary condition for a leader to have charismatic effects is that the role of followers be definable in ideological terms that appeal to the follower. (House 1977, pp. 194, 196–198, 201, 203–205) My personal experience with leadership includes taking part in the leadership training and being chosen to be a group leader. Part of responsibility as a group leader was to ensure that my team was functioning well and that it contributed to the overall well-being of the company. In my 2 weeks of experience in this area, I have found that the best way to do that is to evaluate each individual on the team, determine his or her strengths or weaknesses, and then-through coaching-help that team member use those strengths and eliminate (or at least minimize) the weaknesses. To be effective, the coaching process needs to be built on a solid foundation. Whether the coaching process is directed toward enhancing performance or toward career development, both the coach and the leader must have a clear sense of what success looks like within the organization. It is essential to know what personal characteristics, motives, behaviors, skill, or knowledge-in other words, what competencies-are required of successful leaders. These competencies may differ from one organization to another and from one position to another within the same company, but experience has shown that certain competencies come up repeatedly across the board-competencies that seem to define leadership potential. In this chapter, we describe 13 of these commonly identified competencies and then describe the coaching strategies that you might use to reinforce these competencies. There is roughly a 10-year gap in the published work on charisma theory at this point, although efforts in this area appear to have continued (House 1996). What finally did emerge, however, on the theoretical front is a set of finely tuned hypotheses suitable (and indeed used) for empirical testing purposes.
These hypotheses were a component of a research program in which documents related to the behavior and personality characteristics of U. S. presidents were analyzed. The research itself will be considered later, but what is important at this point is how these hypotheses tie into the theoretical perspective. In the first instances the hypotheses are as follows: 1. The biographies of cabinet members reporting to charismatic U. S. presidents will include more incidents of positive affective relations with the presidents and more positive affective reactions to their positions than will non-charismatic United States presidents. 2. The biographies of cabinet members reporting to charismatic U. S. presidents will include more incidents of charismatic behaviors on the part of the presidents than will biographies of non-charismatic presidents. (House 1996) In the second instance, hypotheses dealing with charisma are specified as follows: 1. Presidential behavioral charisma will be positively related to presidential need for power and presidential activity inhibition and negatively related to presidential needs for achievement and affiliation. 2. Presidential behavioral charisma will be positively related to presidential performance. This relationship will remain after controlling for the effects of presidential motives on overall performance and on presidential behavioral charisma. 3. There will be positive relationships between presidential performance and need for power and activity inhibition, and there will be negative relationships between presidential performance and needs for achievement and affiliation, independent of any effects of motives on performance via behavioral charisma. 4. Crises are positively related to presidential behavioral charisma and presidential performance. 5. The institutional age of the presidency is positively related to presidential motives, level of crises within administrations, presidential behavioral charisma, and presidential performance. (House 1996) These hypotheses derive from what is referred to as the integrated House-McClelland model. This model is developed further elsewhere with the specification of the characteristics of what are termed socialized and personalized charismatic leaders. The model does indeed draw on ideas advanced by McClelland about managers in hierarchic organizations, and it does appear to be aligned with House’s (1977) earlier propositions on charismatic leaders. Yet it is well to recognize that McClelland’s research was not dealing with charismatic leaders, only effective line managers. Socialized charismatic leadership is defined to include (1) a basis for egalitarian behavior, (2) the services of collective interests rather than the leader’s self-interest, and (3) the development and empowerment of others. Hypothesized characteristics of the socialized type are a high need for power, combined with high activity inhibition, a low level of Machiavellian behavior, non-authoritarianism, internal beliefs, and high self-esteem.
Personalized charismatic leadership, by contrast, is defined as (1) being based on personal dominance and authoritarian behavior, (2) serving the self-interest of the leader and consequently self-aggrandizing, and (3) being exploitive of others. Such people are hypoth- esized to possess a high need for power in conjunction with low activity inhibition, high levels of Machiavellian behavior, high narcissism, high authoritarianism, external beliefs, and low self-esteem. The next major extension of the theory involved an attempt to explain more fully the relationships between leader behaviors and their effects on followers. These formulations begin with a set of assumptions about human motivation and the self-concept: 1. People are not only pragmatic and goal-oriented but also self-expressive. 2. People are motivated to maintain and enhance their self-esteem and self-worth. 3. People are motivated to retain and increase their sense of self-consistency. 4. Self-concepts are composed at least partially of identities that include values and links to society. People may be motivated by faith, which is not the same as expectancies. Charismatic leaders achieve their effects by implicating followers’ self-concepts. This, in turn, is accomplished by increasing the intrinsic valence of effort, increasing effort-accomplishment expectancies, increasing the intrinsic valence of goal accomplishment, instilling faith in a better future, and creating personal commitment. These motivational processes are activated by role modeling, whereby the leader assumes the role of a representative character, and by frame alignment, in accordance with which a set of follower values and beliefs become congruent and complementary with the leader’s activities, goals, and ideology. In this context, the authors indicate that exceptional circumstances are not necessary for charismatic leadership to emerge; that exceptional conditions do not necessarily carry the implication of crisis, since opportunities may be involved as well; and that when crisis handling and charisma occur together, the effects tend to be short-term. Here charismatic leadership and crises are clearly unbundled in seeming contradiction to the House (1977) position.