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Charismatic Leadership Valerie Griffith Western Washington University

CHARISMATIC LEADERSHIP AND STAFF APPRECIATION Organizations are only as successful as their leader. Leaders have to be skillful and influential, while having the ability to motivate their followers and run their organization. A good leader will be able to structure his/her organization in a manner that effectively gets the services to the clients and maintains a happy staff/ volunteers. The leader paves the way for the

overall culture of the organization, and hopefully adds success to the overall output. For the sake of this essay, I am going to focus on the attributes of a charismatic leader, and the effects of charismatic leadership on the organization. Also, I want to explain successful ways to appreciate staff and the importance of staff appreciation. I will also pull from my own experiences to help further my knowledge on charismatic leadership and staff appreciation. Max Weber (1947) defined charismatic leadership as "resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him" (p. 10). In laymans terms, a charismatic leader is one who is confident while making the environment of the organization fun with positive reinforcement and a contagious energy. The charismatic aura that surrounds these leaders makes people want to follow their every move and command without questioning them. Charismatic leaders inspire others to do their best, and employees want to impress their leader, so they work hard to succeed. Charisma is a rare personality trait, which makes me wonder is charisma can also be taught? Now that we have an understanding of what a charismatic leader is, what are the attributes that make someone a charismatic leader? According to Worth (2012), charismatic leaders practice in some or all of the following behaviors: The leader advocates a vision that is different from the status quo but still acceptable to followers.

CHARISMATIC LEADERSHIP AND STAFF APPRECIATION The leader acts in unconventional ways in pursuit of the vision. The leader engages in self- sacrifice and risk taking in pursuit of the vision. The leader displays confidence in his or her own ideas and proposals. The leader uses vision and persuasive appeals to influence followers, rather than relying mainly on formal authority.

The leader uses the capacity to assess context and locate opportunities for novel strategies (p. 114).

Charismatic leaders want to do well, so they are constantly making sure that what they do is in the best interest of themselves and the organization. They have the ability to motivate themselves and through doing that, they motivate their staff. Charismatic leaders tend to seek social power, instead of conventional power. They are always striving to better themselves and making sure that they are one step above the rest. Its important to note that charismatic leaders love change and tend to do their best during a time of change. When it comes to fund raising, charismatic leaders are really great at it. They have that personality that attracts people, and their money. Research by Flynn and Staw (2004) supports: Hypothesis lb implies that investors would allocate more resources to Apple after listening to an appeal from its charismatic leader. The results in Table 2 (Equation 1) show a significant positive effect of charismatic leadership on investment in Apple stock (/3 = 0.24; p ^ 0.001), which supports the hypothesis (p. 320). According to Klein (2011), Asking someone you know for money in person is the most effective way to raise funds (p. 75). Charismatic leaders are confident and possess an ego and

CHARISMATIC LEADERSHIP AND STAFF APPRECIATION outgoing personality that makes it really easy for them to ask for money and receive it from donors. On February 27th, 2013, a group of my peers and I interviewed Stacy Rice from the Mt. Baker chapter of the Red Cross. During our interview we asked her questions to try and figure out what makes a strong leader. S. Rice claimed that a successful leader is one who develops a positive environment, appreciates their staff/ volunteers and asks for feedback from the staff/ volunteers to continue to change and better the organization (personal communication, February 27th, 2013). Reflecting on what she said and what I have learned about charismatic leaders, a charismatic leader would be successful, to a certain extent. In my opinion, a charismatic leader would only be successful for short term projects. Eventually the constant battle of being better than everyone else will reach an all-time high and wont be able to progress anymore.

Eventually, the energy of the leader will run out and they will burn out. If a leader, who has been holding the organization together through their charisma, has to leave the organization or gets burnt out, then the staff could fall apart and individuals will lose enthusiasm. I also want to pose a question: can charismatic leadership turn into a negative power trip? From the attributes of a charismatic leader, I could see a leader taking advantage of their rare personality trait and use that power for evil. During the Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) board meeting that I attended, there was not any evidence that any of the members were charismatic leaders. They were all highly elected members of our community, so Im sure that they possessed some of the attributes that a charismatic leader would. During a meeting, however, it is really hard to tell the leadership styles of the members of the board. Before the meeting began and afterwards, they were really professional with one another and seemed to get along really well and have strong relationships.

CHARISMATIC LEADERSHIP AND STAFF APPRECIATION Also, staff appreciation was not discussed during the meeting either. They focused on electing themselves into different positions and then at the end just discussed some new buses and improving the overall services that WTA offers. I interned at Catholic Community Services for two quarters, where my supervisor was Lex Rivers. Lex is a great leader, I dont know of anyone who doesnt like him. I wouldnt say that he was a charismatic leader, but he did possess some of the attributes that make a charismatic leader successful. For instance, he was really confident about his ideas and

proposals. I had expressed to him my desire to start a recovery high school. He got really excited and told me that they were going to be starting one up here in Bellingham. When he told me their plan, he said it with such confidence in its success that I was just ready to hop on board and join in the plan right then and there. Lex was also really relaxed and chill, which made it easy to go and talk with him. There were a few times where Lex would show his staff appreciation by bringing treats like brownies and cookies, and expressing a simple thank you once in a while for everyones hard work. On February 21, 2013, Elena Roppel, who is an administrator at Home Place in Burlington, WA, came to our class to discuss nonprofit management. She discussed the difference between nonprofits and for profits, what tasks a human resources administrator partakes in, different management styles, how to coach and how to appreciate your staff to avoid a high percentage of turn over. The most interesting thing that Elena spoke about was how to effectively appreciate your staff. E. Roppel discussed getting to know your clients and showing them appreciation through the form of gift cards that are for stores they like to shop at and such. (personal communication, February 21, 2013). Youre staff feels the intent of your appreciation when you personalize the gift that you are giving to them. Also, food is always a great way to

CHARISMATIC LEADERSHIP AND STAFF APPRECIATION show appreciation, but it is important to pay attention to schedules to make sure that everybody gets the gift of appreciation. When you appreciate your staff/ volunteers you make them feel good about what they are doing and that will actually add to the overall success of the organization. When your employees are happy, they will work harder and more efficiently and they will want to work there for a long time. After discussing the attributes of a charismatic leader, it is important to discuss the outcomes of the charismatic leadership style. Many view charismatic leadership as a positive force which yields desirable results. The positive attributes of charismatic leadership are that is motivates followers to give extra output, it promotes self-actualization in its followers, it works to heighten the drive of the followers, it shapes the society the way the followers and the leader had envisioned, and it increases the overall performance of the organization. Charismatic leadership creates a sense of fulfillment and a sense of unity and belongingness in the followers towards the organization. However, I do believe there is a negative aspect to charismatic leadership, and I think that a charismatic leader can take advantage of their power and misuse it. If we can teach people how to become charismatic leaders, then can we teach them how to positively use their powers? All of the questions about charismatic leadership, that I have presented, I cannot answer, but I am excited to go out into the field and hopefully get to use my newly acquired skills in effective leadership and management and to figure out the answers to my questions about charismatic leadership.


Flynn, F. J., & Staw, B. M. (2004). Lend me your wallets: the effect of charismatic leadership on external support for an organization. Strategic Management Journal, 25(4), 309-330. Klein, K. (2011). Fundraising for social change (6th Ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Weber, M. (1947). The Theory of Social and Economic Organization, translated by A. M. Henderson and Talcott Parsons. Edited with an introduction by Talcott Parsons. New York: Free Press. Worth, M.J. (2012). Nonprofit management: principles and practices (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.