People like bright and strong leaders. Then they can take a breath: „There is somebody who will take care of me“. When we study and analyze leadership, somebody from the audience will definitely say, that the most important leader‘s feature is his charisma.
Let‘s say it this way: charisma helps the leader, but it is only spice and you can not cook any serious dish only with it. It is a strong spice but is it the most important one? Probably not. For example, Mohand Gandi, especially at the beginning of his path, did not have charisma at all. Later his followers gave him charisma. These people, who are following him, decide that „This person is charismatic“. Was it possible to think differently when behind a small person‘s shoulders there are such big achievements?
What main features do charismatic leaders have? Great self-confidence, excellent talking skills (agile, expressive mimic), and desire to influence others.
Leadership is always like a two-way process: the leader, who is leading, and his followers, who are following. You are as big a leader, as many followers you have.
The relationship between a charismatic leader and his followers can be compared with a field of sunflowers that is facing the sun. Everybody is looking to one side – to the leader. We do not even have to say that this kind of relationship is not mature. Followers are quite a passive group (especially when talking about their thinking) because they have to wait for the leader’s instructions.
Charismatic leadership is not considered to be sustainable leadership. Charismatic leaders arise during social and economic turmoil times when people are tired, waiting for the solution, and needing a strong fist. They come when people need a hand that controls the crisis, solves important situations, and suggests solutions because knows „how“.
The field of sunflowers is also worthy of attention. People, who are the most immature, can not or do not want to take responsibility for themselves or are vulnerable in other ways (for example have unsolved issues or are not accepted) are the ones who are waiting for the sun (somebody who will come down from the skies to solve all their problems) so they put their hope into the leader. It is acknowledged, that the fact, that Hitler came into the government, was based on people, who had experienced many social problems and had many grievances. The lowest middle-class layers (small-scale people, craftsmen, servants) and especially young people, were warmly welcoming this ideology – love the strong one, hate weak ones, and be against those who do not have knowledge. Hitler sold the idea of being superior to the rest of humanity. This gave a strong emotional satisfaction for people, who felt small and worth nothing until that time. Weak ones became strong ones. A person nearby charismatic leader does not feel alone.
Is another person able to solve my personal problems and make me strong? He can do it in a very limited way, so frustration is almost guaranteed. If in today’s world I see that a politician is very strongly admired, then I know that soon the same follower will talk bad things about him and after will find another sun. What is the difference where to look at? The most important thing is to admire, follow, give hope because if there is nobody to believe in, then the feeling of insecurity might arise.
So a person, who does not doubt, is a dangerous person. But! The leader, who is demonstrating his doubts, will never be seen as a leader, that is why the leader’s homework is to doubt, search and consider. We have to come to people with answers, solutions and tell it with confidence and with arguments.
Do you want to see a lost, doubtful leader who does not know the answer? Probably not.
Do the charismatic leaders doubt whether they perform their homework well? It might be. Anyhow, the leader without a doubt is a dangerous leader.
The best leader’s answer is his actions that he performed during his life.
Dr. Alisa Miniotaitė is a management and leadership expert, founder of UAB ALISA MANAGEMENT LABORATORY, ISM University of Management and Economics, Leadership Program Manager