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6 Crucial Qualities of a Charismatic Leader

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This week we share a guest article from Mindvalley Academy, enjoy!

Great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela all had one thing in common - they were all charismatic leaders. People admired them, followed them on their own free will, and placed their trust in them. This is what charismatic leadership style is like in a nutshell. 

It is not an easy task to pinpoint exactly what makes the charismatic leaders so charismatic. But nevertheless, they have qualities that not only attract followers but evoke admiration and inspiration among them. 

It’s also important to note that there is a thin line between transformational leaders and charismatic leaders. They share a lot of similar qualities that factor into their success. But the biggest and most obvious difference seems to be that charismatic leaders invest their efforts into improving the status quo. On the other hand, transformational leaders, as the name suggests, attempt to transform and bring about a change that is in alignment with the vision of the leader.

Charismatic leadership as defined by history.

German sociologist, Max Weber, postulated back in the 1920s that “charismatic domination” is one of the three most ideal kinds of leadership, authority, and dominion. According to him, charismatic leadership relies heavily on the devotion that followers have for the leader. They see the charismatic leader as some sort of a hero with “exceptional sanctity and exemplary character”.

This seems to hold true for leaders who are seen as charismatic over the years. Take Mother Teresa as an example. She was an extremely driven individual who was committed to a cause she believed in deeply. She was internally motivated and carried out a huge number of humanitarian projects throughout her life. 

The people, as a result, saw her as their ‘hero’, someone who saved them from their troubled lives and gave them hope for a better future. As she was also very religious and devoted her life to Christ, what Weber called ‘exceptional sanctity’ applies to her in a whole new and more intense level. She was kind, caring, courageous, motivated, humble, and compassionate – all the qualities that made her an ‘exemplary character’. 

It is no surprise then that Mother Teresa was so widely loved and admired by her followers. If one possesses the qualities that make a charismatic leader, it is a sure way of attracting people and their admiration, and achieving your goals. Let us now look at the qualities and characteristics a charismatic leader possesses that make it so easy to follow and support them.

1. Charismatic leaders rightfully earn admiration and respect

Charismatic leaders work hard, they start off with a clear goal in mind, and work every day to get closer and closer to that goal. They do not have anything handed over to them on a silver platter. They are self-made. The people see this, and this is what drives their attraction to charismatic leaders. Respect and admiration are earned after a long and arduous effort, and it always pays off. Their followers have positive perceptions of them and see them as heroes.

2. Charismatic leaders are confident, yet humble

This goes without saying. All charismatic leaders the world has had the pleasure of witnessing were humble people. They see themselves not as superiors, but one among many. They give importance and pay attention to the need and qualms of their followers. At the same time, it obviously takes a lot of self confidence and strength to achieve the goals they have set for themselves. Charismatic leaders are comfortable with the kind of person they are; they embrace their identity. 

3. Charismatic leaders have strong communication skills

Charismatic leaders tend to have extraordinarily strong communication skills. They are great public speakers. This has to do with them understanding people, their followers or employers, and what they want. This quality helps them to motivate and energize followers, and is also what attracts them in the first place. It is no wonder that great charismatic leaders have given such inspiring speeches to thousands of people throughout history.

4. Charismatic leaders constantly strive for improvement

Charismatic leaders have the ability to take care and manage themselves. Whether in tough times or when things are good, they always monitor their words and actions. They understand they are in a position where whatever they do or say can be taken seriously or that they can easily abuse their power if they lose control. Due to this awareness, charismatic leaders constantly watch themselves, and always strive for self-improvement.

5. Charismatic leaders accept accountability and responsibility

What makes charismatic leaders so heroic is that they accept full responsibility and accountability for their actions and decisions at all times. This is where the foundation of their charisma lies. They do not look for others to blame and they do not make excuses during crisis and tough times. Instead, they accept ownership, and learn from their mistakes. This is a quality that people admire – a leader of high values and principles who is wise and courageous enough to accept his/her own shortcomings.

6. Charismatic leaders gain from “the halo effect”

In psychology, “the halo effect” is a phenomenon whereby a person who is seen in a good light, is always seen this way no matter what he/she does. According to this, if people have a positive perception of you, they will continue seeing you the same way even if you do something wrong. Charismatic leaders benefit greatly from this halo effect. Their followers choose to remember them by all the good works they have done no matter what happens. This is why charismatic leaders have such staunch supporters. 

Do you know of any other qualities of charismatic leaders? Share with the community below!



Founded in 2003 by Vishen Lakhiani, Mindvalley Academy is an online school for all the things regular schooling forgets to teach you. Mindvalley brings you world-class courses from the world's top personal growth authors to allow you to create remarkable transformations in all areas of your life. To learn more, click here.








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