March 20, 2013

Do you need Charisma to be an effective leader?

I came across this interesting article which has sort of challenged my previous views on leadership. I used to think that effective leaders need to have charisma. It seemed almost logical considering people like Steve Jobs, for instance.

However, this article shows that this is a common misconception. Even people who are not gifted with charisma can be really effective as leaders. Furthermore, some charismatic leaders can actually hinder the progress of an organization. Take the example of Richard S. Fuld, the CEO of Lehman Brothers and the guy who many people blame for the financial crisis. He was undoubtedly charismatic, persuasive and strong minded (labelled as "the gorilla" of Wallstreet) but he played a major part in the downfall of his corporation. This has definitely changed my views and I now don't think that a charismatic leader will necessarily outperform his/her counterpart over the long run. While you will sometimes get that one-in-a-million steve jobs type leader, you will also come across leaders with charisma and outstanding powers of persuasion, but who will still lead company in the wrong direction as they will not listen to anyone with opposing views.


The article can be accessed from: http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/why-good-leaders-dont-need-charisma/


- 4 comments by 4 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Waddah Alharthi

    I agree with the fact that having one strong feature wont be an sign to be an effective leader at all. I believe that being a leader is a mix of features and the current situation you are behaving upon. Steve Jobs for example was effective according to the situation he undergone, but what if he was transferred to another place, would he perform the same? The same is applied to all the examples of leaders we read about. Analyse their actions and style and try to fit them in other places, you might find that most if them, if succeeded, won’t be that success they perform in their past position. So it should be noticed that whatever theory or style you might consider as your preferred one, you should apply it first to your case and measure how effective it is to be under your special circumstances.

    20 Mar 2013, 15:45

  2. Lorraine Karuku

    I think your blog is very valid. There is the great example of Hitler who was charismatic, effective but not a good doer. Then we have the like of Mother Theresa who was not necessarily charismatic but was an example of an effective leader

    20 Mar 2013, 19:04

  3. Hasan Khan

    Thank you Waddah and Lorraine.
    Going back to Waddah’s point, you are absolutely right as leadership is essentially a function of three variables, i.e. leader, followers (group members) and the situation:
    L= f(l,gm,s)

    20 Mar 2013, 21:53

  4. Muhammad Khan

    You can not ignore charismatic factor in a leader because a leader is effective when he communicates with his followers and inspire them. Yes, there are many examples where, I would call them successful leaders were not charismatic but achieved their goals but effective leaders need to inspire his followers and charisma is a must for that.

    24 Mar 2013, 22:18


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