The charismatic style of leadership relies on the persuasiveness and charm of a leader, who is driven by commitment and conviction to a certain cause. It is directed by leaders who are sometimes called “transformational leaders” because of the multiple similarities that they share, with only the main difference is audience and focus. While charismatic leaders try to make the existing state of affairs better, transformational leaders tend to focus on transforming organizations into their vision. Here are four of the best examples of the charismatic leadership style:
1. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership
Following in the footsteps of his father as a Baptist minister, King began his career in civil rights by leading the bus boycott after African American civil rights activist Rosa Parks was arrested in Alabama. His powerful belief and speeches in peaceful protests had put in more energy into the Civil Rights Movement. He founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in January 1957, and three years later, he became nationally infamous when he was arrested at a lunch counter sit-in that got the attention of presidential candidate John F. Kennedy. Released soon after, he went on to have even greater influence in his fight for civil rights, with his speeches igniting smaller movements for equal rights through the southern regions of America and even beyond. He is best known for his march on Washington on August 28, 1963 that drew thousands of people. It was during this event, where he delivered his famous speech, “I Have a Dream”.
2. Ronald Reagan Leadership
President Reagan gained fame as an actor in a937 after he signed a 7-year movie contract with Warner Brothers. During the Second World War, he created training films for the military. Though he served as president of the labor union, Screen Actors Guild, his political views shifted from liberal to conservative in the 1950s. Reagan then started giving motivational speeches for businesses and, in 1964, moved to the national stage by giving a well-received speech for Barry Goldwater that was aired on television. In 1968, he started running for president and finally won in 1980. He was able to articulate his political vision in a way that appealed to his followers and is recognized as one of the most charismatic US presidents of the 20th century, along with John F. Kennedy and Teddy Roosevelt.
3. Lido Anthony Iacocca Leadership
In the late 1970s, Iacocca was brought to Chrysler to save the automobile maker from an impending bankruptcy. According to witnesses, Iacocca ultimately persuaded Congress to guarantee Chrysler a huge loan, like a charismatic leader “working his magic”. Impressively, this automotive executive, who is known to only have an undergraduate degree in industrial engineering, was not gifted with natural charisma and only developed such talent. One of the memorable examples of his charisma is his signature slogan – “If you can find a better car, buy it!”
4. Pope John Paul II Leadership
Under Nazi occupation, Pope John Paul II, known at birth as Karol Józef Wojtyla, started his theological studies in 1938 in a secret seminary, ordained in 1946 and became bishop of Ombi in 1958. Being well regarded for his works in the Catholic Church, he was made a cardinal in 1967 and finally elected as pope in 1978. He was influential in assessing the role of the church in the modern world and traveled to more than a hundred countries to give speeches and advocate human rights.
As you can see, the most important elements identified in the charismatic leadership style are the leaders’ articulation and vision, sensitivity to the environment and their followers’ needs, willingness to take personal risks and expertise in using unconventional behavior.
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.