Charismatic Leadership Style Advantages, Disadvantages and Characteristics

Charismatic leaders are visionaries. They have a big dream and work toward making it happen. They look beyond the big picture to see what others are unable to see beyond the horizon. Then they imagine different ways to create a successful result.

These leaders are also excellent communicators. They must be, because they must convince others to share the same vision they have. There is an element of belief that charismatic leaders must inspire in others to begin making progress toward their goals.

A charismatic leader may have a forceful opinion, but they are also sensitive to the emotions, ambitions, and personal experiences that others have. These leaders recognize that it is the duty of the leader to adjust their approach to each person instead of forcing others to adjust themselves to their leadership style.

Most importantly, a charismatic leader is willing to take a risk. They recognize when it is necessary to be conservative and when a risk could bring in great rewards.

Besides these characteristics, here are some of the key advantages and disadvantages of charismatic leadership to consider.

List of the Advantages of Charismatic Leadership

1. It is a leadership style which creates an emotional appeal.
People are inspired by charismatic leaders because they see a chance to reach their own dreams. These leaders give them a chance to do something that feels bigger than themselves. They want to follow these people because they feel like there is an emotional connection between themselves and the leader. With this connection, strong loyalties are often formed by those who choose to follow a charismatic leader.

2. It gives people a chance to think differently.
When a charismatic leader shares their vision, it gives people a chance to think differently about a specific subject. In some instances, they can even begin to think of bigger plans or dreams that are achievable. Even though it sometimes requires a leap of faith to follow a charismatic leader, when the message is strong enough, there will always be people who are willing to take the risk.

3. It decreases turnover rates within an organization.
Employers often seek out charismatic leaders when they are struggling with high attrition rates. People feel connected to the charismatic leader more than they do the company, which creates a workplace that feels more welcoming. People come to work feeling happier. They are encouraged by the open communication and the rewards which happen because their leader is willing to take the occasional risk.

4. It can be used to create a positive impact on society.
One of the best examples of a positive charismatic leader is Martin Luther King Jr. His goal was to help create change in society by shifting how people thought about specific people, laws, and circumstances. Not only did he inspire people with his speeches and work, he was also willing to stand side-by-side with those who shared his vision of a better country and worked just as hard to create the results he wanted.

5. It prioritizes the learning process.
Charismatic leaders understand that humans are imperfect. They are not seeking out perfectionism in every project. These leaders do want their followers to learn from their mistakes. They also learn from their own mistakes. Although this may create tunnel vision, or even a certain level of arrogance, it can also be the catalyst a company needs to make the final move toward a final outcome.

6. It creates a shared identity.
When people share an identity as a group, it can turn the impossible into something that is possible to achieve. This can create a push toward large changes being made in a short time period.

List of the Disadvantages of Charismatic Leadership

1. It is dependent upon the energy levels of the leader.
Charismatic leadership is centered on the energy levels of the individual involved. Encouraging people to follow a specific vision or dream can be an exhausting experience. If energy levels begin to sink, there will be fewer followers willing to come along. If that energy is depressed for a prolonged time, then some people may abandon the vision altogether. That is why many charismatic leaders eventually experience burnout. They’re stuck carrying the emotional load for everyone.

2. It prevents new learning opportunities from occurring.
Charismatic leaders convince others to follow their own vision. That means people tend to abandon their own dreams, creativity, or plans because they see something “better” through the perspective of the leader they choose to follow. Instead of following their own opportunities for growth, they push the leader to become better, stronger, and more influential. They stop living for themselves because they focus all their energy toward the goals described by the leader.

3. It can change the value systems of the followers.
People might initially begin to follow a leader because they share the same overall goals that are being described. Over time, that affiliation can change the personality, value systems, and spiritual definitions of the person following the charismatic leader. They might find themselves agreeing to do things that they normally would find to be appalling. The charisma offered by the leader creates a situation where many believe that the ends will justify the means to get there.

4. It can be used for selfish ambition.
One of the best examples of how charismatic leadership can be used to create harm comes from Adolf Hitler. He was imprisoned in 1923 because he attempted to seize power through a coup in Munich. He attacked the Treaty of Versailles, denounced international capitalism, and used his charismatic charm to influence the electorate. By 1933, the Nazi Party was the largest elected party in the Reichstag. Once that happened, the journey toward the second world war had begun.

5. It is not a leadership style which fits into a rigid structure.
Charismatic leaders tend to pursue their own vision at the expense of any rules or regulations that may be in place. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, like the diner sit-ins that took place during the Civil Rights Movement. From an organizational standpoint, however, a charismatic leader can be difficult to handle. There may be rigid regulations or processes that must be followed and these leaders may choose on their own to go in a different direction.

The advantages and disadvantages of the charismatic leadership style provide a foundation for people and organizations to chase bigger and better dreams. These leaders can establish a strong vision, create a meaningful mission, then recruit people to begin the work required to get there. That process can be used for good. It can also be used to create harm. That is why there must always be an emphasis on individual thinking when pursuing the goals of a charismatic leader.

Author Biography
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.