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Advantages and disadvantages of charismatic leadership style

Advantages and disadvantages of charismatic leadership style

This is a detailed article on the advantages and disadvantages of charismatic leadership style. It begins with exploring the definitions of the term ‘charisma’ and ends with providing the readers with real life examples of charismatic leaders from different fields. Certainly, people and organisations often go through a variety of challenges and those challenges may sometimes destabilise the environment in which they operate. A charismatic leader is someone who can stand up and face the challenges with his/her personal ‘gifts’.

Definitions of charisma

The word ‘charisma’ comes from the Greek word ‘charis’. It means gift or grace (Edinger, 2012).

The term ‘charisma’ refers to a special power that some people have naturally that makes them able to influence other people and attract their attention and admiration (Cambridge Dictionary, 2021).

According to Soanes (2002) the term ‘charisma’ refers to attractiveness or charm that can inspire admiration or enthusiasm in other people.

Definitions of charismatic leadership style

According to Riggio (n.d.)  charismatic leadership refers to the interaction between a leader’s personal charisma, the followers’ reactions to the leader, and situational characteristics. Leaders with this style rely on their personal characteristics to inspire people to get things done.

Advantages of charismatic leadership style

Charismatic leaders usually display a great level of confidence to convince a large audience. They know themselves very well and try to bring people together to achieve the organisational goals.

Charismatic leaders are usually adaptable and possess the power to make the followers feel comfortable with the environment and the circumstances they are in regardless of the reality on the ground.

Charismatic leaders do well in time of difficulty where they can demonstrate their outstanding devotion to the cause and lead everyone out of the difficulty. These leaders usually have clear visions to chart the direction of their organisations.

Disadvantages of charismatic leadership style

While self-confidence is excellent, it is also possible that charismatic leaders may sometimes become over-confident and start exercising narcissism (personality disorder/manipulative behaviour) which may threaten the harmony within the organisation. Therefore, some experts argue that too much charisma sometimes does more harm than good.

Charismatic leaders are often busy in building their self-image to distinguish themselves from others. They sometimes overestimate themselves and can even end up believing that they are above everything and everyone else. Likewise, they are very interested in keeping their leadership intact and may be reluctant in turning controls over to others.

With diverse personal characteristics, charismatic leaders may create an illusion that nobody in the organisation is capable like them, and therefore, they must not be replaced. This creates challenges for organisations which may decide to replace the leaders to give opportunities to others, bring in fresh ideas, and perhaps try something new.

Examples of charismatic leaders

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Bill Clinton, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Angela Merkel, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jack Ma are some of the political and business leaders who have demonstrated outstanding personal qualities and characteristics in their activities.

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Last update: 10 July 2021


Cambridge Dictionary (2021) Charisma, available at: (accessed 02 July 2021)

Edinger, S. (2021) Learn to be charismatic, available at: (accessed 01 July 2021)

Riggio, R. (n.d.) Charisma, available at: (accessed 7 July 2021)

Soanes, C. (2002) Pocket Oxford English Dictionary, 9th Edition, New York: Oxford University Press

Author: Joe David

Joe David has years of teaching experience both in the UK and abroad. He writes regularly online on a variety of topics. He has a keen interest in business, hospitality, and tourism management. He holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies and a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing Management.

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