Charismatic leaders are different from other leaders in the way that they transform organizations and their members. They are able to articulate a vision for an organization’s future that motivates its members to extraordinary effort and achievement (House ; Howell, 1992). They can generate
enthusiasm among the members of the organization by describing a better organizational future, by presenting new opportunities and solutions, and by connecting the needs of the members of the organization to the projected vision (Boal ; Bryson, 1988).
The notion of charismatic leadership is derived from the Greek word charisma which means “divinely inspired gift.” The German sociologist Max Weber instigated the contemporary focus on charismatic leadership when he described a type of leader who exerts remarkable influence by demonstrating “a certain quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities” (Weber, 1947, 358). The followers of charismatic leaders perceive them to be endowed with qualities not found in ordinary leaders. This perception of the charismatic leader’s qualities motivates followers to higher levels of commitment and task performance than would otherwise be the case.
Charismatic leadership occurs when an organization and its members believe that they have found in some individual a solution to the problems that confront them (Jones, 2001). People generally feel better about themselves and their circumstances when working with a charismatic leader.
Charismatic leadership has the potential to help an organization rise above unsatisfactory performance and internal cultural restrictions to develop a positive interface with its operating environment. Charismatic leaders can transform organizations through their ability to see opportunities and their willingness to implement unique strategies. They bring solutions to organizational problems and hope to organizational members.
A charismatic leader typically advocates an inspirational vision for the future of an organization that is highly discrepant from the status quo, but which still seems possible and desirable. The leader is prepared to take on high personal risks, to engage in selfWsacrifice, and to act in innovative, unconventional and effective ways to achieve the vision. The leader acts with confidence and demonstrates dedication to his or her convictions with high energy and persistence. As a result, the charismatic leader achieves radical change in the organization and is judged by its members to have achieved unusual success (Conger & Kanungo, 1998).