Reverend Martin Luther King Jr

German sociologist Max Weber (1968) made the first argument of charismatic leadership that a leader with charisma is able to convince people. He believed that the leadership of charismatic individuals with exceptional quality can size up the situation immediately and lead to a very profound influence on his subordinates. Moreover, charisma is an encouraging factor that leaders are available with the nature of interpersonal attraction, including personality, ability, experience and frustrations. Therefore, this essay is going to discuss the importance of charismatic leadership in two following aspects.

The relationship between leaders and followers

Jay (1998) noted that leader’s charisma is a contagious indictor to help his follows. When a leader is considered to be very attractive, then their subordinates are more willing to take the leader’s proposals to work. According to him, charismatic leadership often set an example for their employees in order to lead or influence them, which could disseminate the values and varied expectations according to their own action. Furthermore, Jean (2005) supported an example of how Reverend Martin Luther King Jr affected his followers can demonstrate the importance of charismatic leadership. On 1 December, 1955, Alabama in the United States, a black woman named Rosa Parker refused to obey an order form a bus driver who asked her to give her seat to a white passenger. Then the driver called the police, who arrested her for breaking the bus segregation laws. When the black community heard about that, they were engaged. Already some black people were collecting weapons to fight against whites. This matter raised Reverend Martin Luther King Jr’s attention; he thought that violence was not the answer and the situation must be corrected. After that, King called a meeting at his church and appealed a mass movement to carry out bus boycott. While the boycott continued, the black leader encouraged his congregation to keep up their struggle and emphasized the need for non-violent action. Finally, the Supreme Court ruled that segregation was unconstitutional. Martin Luther King had played a leading role in the victorious Montgomery bus boycott for civil right. His talent and morality were deeply attracted by the majority of black supports, which made him become a charismatic leader in democratic rights movement.

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However, Edwin (2008) opposed that charismatic leadership can be a curse so that a leader charisma not always brings the benefit to followers. In his opinion, abusing charismatic leadership may bring a danger or risk to the organization, because it can be not only used for destructive purposes, but also it might be utilized for private purposes, which would result in deception, manipulation and exploitation of others.Leaders want their followers to share the same beliefs and values, which are strong models to employees. If their advocated beliefs and values are not correct, charismatic leadership would take followers into a wrong way, which may cause a disastrous consequence. In Hans’ (2000) research, Hitler accepted the idea of Benito Mussolini, who was the founder of Fascist Nazism. There were a lot of followers because of his attractive leadership during the World War 2. But he advocated using coercive power of fascist Nazism and guide people toward an extreme misfortune.

Perspective of charismatic leadership

  Andrew (2009) deemed that charismatic leadership helps entrepreneurs to strengthen and improve their leadership effectiveness.The charisma of a leader on the facet of interpersonal skills can bring big advantages for many reasons. In the first place, employees tend to seek charismatic leaders who they believe. Secondly, people perhaps are always influenced by the personal charm on their leaders because they feel that it will enhance their self-confidence and self-esteem which can produce a pleasurable sensation. Finally, staff wished to work for glamorous leaders who may stimulate their enthusiasm. Another case of Martin Luther King is that his speech of “I have a dream” deeply motivated black people fighting for civil rights and freedom.

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On the contrary, Martin (2005) argued that the external environment and situation has undergone tremendous changes, adverse psychological characteristics and values, which have not been expressed before, may happen on charismatic leaders. In another word, their original psychological tendencies have been suppressed due to the growth and expansion of external and inherent constraints. Consequently,various emotions complacency would expand on charismatic leadership in an organization after succeed in hard works. In order to seek compensation after hard works, leaders might often seek some illegal and immoral businesses as a spiritual compensation so that they seize the wealth and pleasure in irregular ways. There are also some leaders losing initiative and enjoying material life after success.              

On the other hand, Tudor and Murray (2006) pointed out that the charismatic leadership also exist dark sides in the organizational management, such as mismanagement in the network of members’ relationships (especially the staff in grassroots level and managers in supervisory level). Sometimes, leadership transition does not follow the usual practice, which may reflect on a phenomenon that organizational members misunderstand the leader’s intent. Besides, charismatic leadership may result in alienation between leaders and employees in an organization. Leader’s charisma might be formed a strong leadership and management style so that there would be an opposition among “in-group” and “outside-groups” members of the organization, even though the organization is in a tantamount splitting situation. Meanwhile, momentum that may be ascribed in leader charisma did not produce agreement in organizational members who are accustomed working in the traditional slow pace. Consequently, it is a negative effect that they deal with their managers courteously but without sincerity. These actions will certainly have a negative impact on employee performance.

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In short, the charismatic leadership could process a strong charisma in both positive and negative sides. Therefore, grasping the dialectical relationship of charismatic leadership can play a positive role even if there would be some negative effects. Charismatic leaders, who experienced in the formation of overall quality, will have a profound emotional impact on their follows. Subordinates even treat them as an epic hero or model figure so that charismatic leaders should have great power, self-confidence, power, beliefs and moral steadfastness. Furthermore, they are good at setting up ambitious objectives and being examples of their own to express their belief and values in an organization.

  • Bibliography

    Weber, M. (1968) On charisma and institution building: selected papers, Chicago:University of Chicago Press

    Conger, J (1998) Charismatic leadership in organizations, USA: SAGE publications, p 20

    Darby, J. (2005) Martin Luther King Jr, USA: Lerner Publications Company, pp 24-48

    Hollander, E (2008) Inclusive Leadership: The Essential Leader-Follower Relationship, United States of America: Taylor & Francis Group, p 88

    Slomp, H (2000) European politics into the twenty-first century: integration and division, USA: Praeger Publishers, pp 9-10

    Dubrin, A (2009) Leadership: Research Findings, Practice and Skills, 6th edition, USA: South-Western, pp 92

    Wood, M (2005) The Fallacy of Misplaced Leadership, Journal of Management Studies [J], 42:6(2005), pp1102-1112

    Rickards,T. and Clark, M (2006) Dilemmas of Leadership, United Kingdom: British Library, pp 88-90

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