Charismatic Leadership Style

Definition

The charismatic leadership style was one of three leadership types described by Max Weber in 1947, along with the bureaucratic and traditional leadership styles.  The charismatic leadership style is based on a form of heroism or extreme of character, almost of divine origin.

Explanation

Weber was the first to distinguish between transactional leaders, such as bureaucratic leaders, and transformational leaders, such as charismatic leaders.  Weber also believed that most leaders exhibited characteristics of all styles.

The characteristics specific to the charismatic style include:

  • Leaders are viewed as having supernatural powers and abilities; the leader is viewed as a hero by followers
  • Leaders are followed because of personal trust, and the charisma the leader exhibits
  • Followers are promoted to higher levels of authority based on personal charisma they display
  • There are no formal offices of authority; power is gained through social skills

Related Terms

transformational leaders, situational leadership style, transactional leaders