Charisma’s black eye

black eye 2Research on charisma which shows that people who exhibit emotional expressiveness are rated the highest in charisma by others. People can be taught this very skill, and improve it by spending time delivering speeches in front of the mirror, watching their face and hand gestures, and recording their voice to improve inflection. One response was difficulty with teaching people to be charismatic, was teaching them this skill without enabling them to become like Hitler who did practiced these techniques.

With the rise of appealingly and strong but eventually destructive leaders in the twentieth century, charisma has gotten a black eye. People who want to work a crowd can become skilled in replicating facial expressions, voice and movements to convey strong feelings. They can learn to use settings to maximize their appearance of presence. And it does work; at least it worked well for one of the leaders rated as the most charismatic speakers of the 20th century. Adolf Hitler spent hours mastering the delivery of speeches that drew crowds like a magnet. Before he did his ideas were largely ignored.

Charismatic leadership skill peddlers have renamed the techniques they teach. “Transformational leadership” is one of the new monikers used for those who can induce others to follow their vision in today’s businesses. This kind of leadership also includes mastering skills to determine what vision should be, and the best method to achieve it. But it is mainly based on the ability to sell that vision. Therefore, behaving and speaking in a charismatic manner are the cornerstones of transformational leadership.

The classic idea is of a charismatic leader that arises in a country in crisis (runaway inflation, massive unemployment, etc.) This leaders promises better life, an economic turn-around. And the cost is current sacrifice. Neo-charisma is aimed at corporations.Why has charismatic leadership in business has become so important?

The growth of cost competition has made the prospect of maintaining profits increasingly difficult. Companies need to have their employees producing more, without paying more. They need an economic turn-around. People are more willing to sacrifice and spend more time spent at work for a charismatic leader. This is the ideal way for the board of directors wants to sell their vision for bringing a company out of pending crisis. Maybe, there is not that much difference between the classic idea of charisma and the new one.

Antonkias, J. Fenley, M. and Liechti, S. Can Charisma Be Taught? Tests of Two Interventions. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 2011, Vol. 10, No. 3, 374–396.
Barling, J. Weber, T. Kelloway, E. K.. Effects of transformational leadership training on attitudinal and financial outcomes: A field experiment. Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 81(6), Dec 1996, 827-832
Friedman, H. S. Prince, L. M. Riggio, R. E and DiMatteo, M. R. Understanding and Assessing Nonverbal Expressiveness: The Affective Communication Test, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1980, Vol. 39, No. 2, 333-351
Macias, A. “Why Hitler was such a successful orator” Business Insider. May 13, 2015, 1:35 PM  
This entry was posted in Leadership, Persuasion and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Charisma’s black eye

  1. knlistman says:

    Reblogged this on Write about what? and commented:

    another side of charisma.

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