Charismatic leaders – what makes them special?
This week a new series is being aired on Radio 4 called “Charisma: Pinning Down the Butterfly” over 10 episodes the excellent Francine Stock of the Film Programme fame will present views and opinions about “the alluring yet elusive quality of charisma”.
Fellow BBC correspondent Peter Day has written a blog entitled: “Charismatic bosses: a help or a hindrance?” in which he has tried to identify some of the most charismatic business leaders, past and present, and admitted he had found the task difficult. His candidates were largely American giants from the 19th and 20th centuries: Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Jack Welch. He also singled out Steve Jobs as an exception to the general rule that most charismatic leaders’ careers end in failure! From the UK he named the founder of John Lewis – John Spedan Lewis but felt that no other leader came close in the charisma stakes.
For me the key for business leaders is to have an aura that inspires and drives others to achieve – either the individuals or the organisation as whole. Having met a number of people who have worked with Richard Branson many have described him as inspirational, empowering and insightful – but does that make him charismatic?
My question to the forum is: what makes a business leader charismatic and who decides on that quality, external commentators or the people who work closely with them?