Charismatic Leader


First described by Weber in 1947, and later by Burns in 1978, charismatic leaders were identified as one of four types of transformational leaders.  The other three leadership styles described by Burns include revolutionary leaders, intellectual leaders, and reform leaders.

The charismatic leader is also referred to as the heroic leadership style.  The charismatic leader is viewed as having almost supernatural powers and abilities by the followers.  Like all transformational leaders, the charismatic leader ignores traditional boundaries to bring about change.


The charismatic leader relies on personal charm to convince followers that change, or a transformation, needs to take place in society.  When most leadership theories or models are discussing transformational leaders, they are very likely describing a type that is close in behaviors to the charismatic leader.  Burns has the only leadership model that recognizes four different styles of transformational leaders.

Related Terms

transformational leaders, conditional leadership styles, transactional leaders