Charisma in Leadership LO17481

Ed Brenegar (
Fri, 20 Mar 1998 06:59:44 -0000

Replying to LO17469 --


Thank you for your thoughts on charismatic leadership.

While certainly clear and to the point, it raised the issue of why the
idea or, even, the value of charisma in leadership still persists?

The problem with collaborative leadership is that it requires a level of
people skills which many people do not acquire through their educational
development. I defind charismatic leadership as leadership by force of
personality. It is forced upon people, whether subtly or not, whether
gently or not, but forced none the less. And the result is either stilted
interaction or restrictive work processes. And all that it requires for a
charismatic leader to be deemed successful is to find enough compliant,
unthinking people who are looking for someone to make decisions for them
and are willing to place loyalty to the individual above everything else,
and you have a personality cult.

I think this type of leadership will persist as long as we look at the
development of people as an individual phenomenon, not as a group, team or
even community one. We learn more when we are in dialogue, because we
test our ideas that way. And we learn more when we must develop
interdependency within teams because we have to listen, not just give
commands and follow commands.

Finally, I think that the hardest thing for a charismatic leader to do is
go through a process where he or she is willing to subject themselves to
the immediate scrutiny of their ideas within a team. Ideas carry the day,
not force of personality, in that context. That does not mean they stop
having this dynamic personality, but it does mean that they become less
god-like and more human. The question I have always had about charismatic
leaders is: Who are they real with? Who really knows them and identifies
with their fears, doubts and problems? The difficulty of being a
charismatic leader is that it can be a very lonely place to spend one's

This is a good and important thread which needs for thought and dialogue
from the list.

Ed Brenegar
Leadership Resources


"Ed Brenegar" <>

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