THEORIES OF CHARISMATIC LEADERSHIP
Leadership is influencing the performance of group members toward the achievement of organizational goals through persuasion, example, direction, control, or oversight. There are two inherent conflicts in the very idea of leadership in a democratic society. The first is embodied in the British statesman and orator Edmund Burke’s (1729–1797) distinction between employing one’s own best judgment in service of constituents (a trustee), and trying as assiduously as possible to implement the will of the majority, regardless of whether it seems right to the “leader” (a delegate):
Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion (“Speech to the Electors of Bristol,” November 3, 1774, reprinted in Laski, 1998).
This point is deeper than the indeterminacy of the social choice problem, raising instead a paradox in the nature of leadership itself. There is a distinction, dating back at least to Plato, between rulers (members of an elite, born and socialized to rule by virtue of merit), and leaders (people chosen by the people from among themselves). If decisions are truly democratic, why does a society need leaders in the first place?
An interesting example of the tension between leading the people and simply implementing their will can be found in the October 1944 diary of British member of Parliament Sir Cuthburt Headlam (1999, entry for 10/12/44): “Never was a party so leaderless as the Conservative party is today.” What leader was it that Sir Headlam held in such low esteem? Winston Churchill, perceived by history as one of the great wartime leaders of all time. But in terms of advancing the fortunes of his party, Churchill either did not care or could not be bothered. Who was right: Headlam or history? In voters’ minds, Headlam’s view was correct. Churchill was unceremoniously dumped from office, with his Conservatives so resoundingly defeated in July 1945 that the opposition Labour Party gained a majority of more than 180 seats.
The second inherent conflict divides transactional leadership and transformational leadership. Transactional leadership is close to Taylorist principles of management and control, focusing on mechanism design and incentive compatibility, assuming that rewards and punishment motivate workers. The successful transactional leader compensates workers in a strict hierarchy in exchange for their service to the collective goal.
Transformational leaders begin with a vision, and persuade subordinates to share that vision. Inspiration, rather than either direction or control, is the objective. Transformational leaders believe that success comes first and last through deep and sustained individual commitment among followers.
These two distinctions suggest the following schematic representation of leadership.
It is useful to consider in more detail two accounts of charismatic leadership that have had a large impact both in the training of leaders and in the academy. The first of these is by the German social theorist Max Weber; the second is the work of contemporary management theorist Bernard Bass.
THEORIES OF CHARISMATIC LEADERSHIP
Weber believed that there are three types of systems in which leadership matters. The first is traditional/feudal; the second is charismatic leadership; and the final type, the highest achievement of leadership in an evolutionary sense, is the legal/rational leader, whose authority is based on expertise, experience, and technical training.
Traditional leadership authority is based on tradition and patriarchy, suppressing conflict but substituting an irrational and capricious order. Government actions arbitrate competition among those seeking favors, income, and other advantages, with leaders personally collecting fees. This system allows for some mobility among the classes, but the actual functions of government are based on loyalty, not merit.
Charismatic authority derives from the exceptional sacrifice, heroism, or exemplary character of the leader. Claims to charismatic authority are bolstered by assertions of destiny, being “chosen” or selected, or other supernatural signs. But pure charismatic leadership does not rely, or even allow, any other administrative or governmental organizations. If an organization relies on charismatic leadership, it may collapse into chaos if the leader dies or leaves, because subordinates act out of personal regard for that individual leader rather than the organization as an abstraction.
|Source of authority|
|Style of leadership||Delegation||Trusteeship|
|Transactional||The committee chair. Ad hoc style of leadership. Short-term, few resources, limited and group-determined goals. Everybody gets something for participating||The general. Military command; extreme hierarchy, harsh punishment, complete authority over subordinates|
|Transformational||The quarterback. Charismatic and inspirational, but focused on needs and wants of subordinates. Teamwork, shared responsibility, focus is as much on transformation of team members themselves as on ultimate goals||The savior. Classic true charismatic leader, narcissistic focus on internal vision, willing to sacrifice underlings to achieve that vision|
The highest expression of the potential for leadership authority, for Weber, was rational/technical/legal authority. Weber argued that bureaucracy is “the exercise of control on the basis of knowledge” (1947, p. 339). The leader is controlled and disciplined by rules and procedures, and open commitment to these procedures is the entire basis for the leader’s authority. The office holder is constrained to impersonal, official obligations and commands, and cannot benefit either directly or indirectly from decisions. In the hierarchy of offices, it is office holders, not persons, who exercise authority. Real leadership requires extensive training and demonstrated expertise and experience. Deference and obedience are owed not to individuals, but to the impersonal order.
Bass accepted many of Weber’s claims, but adapted for his own purposes the idea of charismatic rather than legal/rational relations among leaders and subordinates. In his Leadership and Performance Beyond Expectations (1985) Bass began with what seems like a paradox, from the perspective of Weberian or Taylorist perspectives on leadership. Why is it that most leaders are able to elicit only competent performance from employees? Why are some leaders able to elicit much more, and to make the workers happier and more fulfilled at the same time?
The explanation Bass offered is that the transactional, contractual approach described by Weber, and the charismatic leader Weber admired but considered anachronistic, could be combined into a new synthesis. Truly successful leadership depends on charisma, and successful organizations must nurture and promote charismatic individuals to leadership positions.
Bass created a taxonomy of personalities in an organization. The mix of personalities on teams, and the profile of the leader, might have as much to do with the success of the team as the abilities of the team and the technical nature of the task. He calls the three personality types self-oriented, task-oriented, and interaction-oriented. Task-oriented personalities are self-sufficient, resourceful, competitive, and motivated by intellectual challenges if they are not distracted. Self-oriented personalities are disagreeable, introverted, and often jealous, but they can be motivated by their desire for personal success and rewards. Interaction-oriented personalities are motivated by contact and interaction with others, and have much lower needs for autonomy or personal rewards.
Bass claimed that charismatic, transformational leaders could have an unexpectedly large impact on nearly any organization, so long as they consciously focused on three things. First, subordinates must be made to feel aware of the importance of their tasks and the importance of performing well. Part of this “importance” rests in expectation of reward, but much of it could simply be expectation of recognition and respect.
Second, Bass argued it was important to make subordinates aware of their needs for personal growth, development, and accomplishment. That is, the specific tasks being worked on today might be less important, both to the individual and the organization, than the impact that task might have on the employee’s career. Finally, Bass claimed that transformational leaders must motivate their subordinates to work for the good of the organization rather than exclusively for their own personal gain or benefit. This might be achieved by making subordinates feel they belong, or can depend on each other, in a variety of ways, but the important thing is reconciling collective goals and individual fulfillment.
SEE ALSO Authority; Leadership
Bass, Bernard M. 1985. Leadership and Performance Beyond Expectations. New York: Free Press.
Weber, Max. 1947. The Theory of Social and Economic Organization. Trans. A. M. Henderson and Talcott Parsons. New York: Free Press.
The leader’s purpose is to fool the fish by disguising the fly’s connection to the fly line. Flyfishers refer to the end of the leader as the tippet. Line type, water clarity, fish size, and fly size determine the leader’s length, taper, flexibility, and strength.
Leaders can become easily kinked from storage on a spool or a reel. The safest
way to straighten leaders is by carefully stretching them with a steady pull. This can be done by pulling the leader between your two hands or by attaching one end of the leader to a stable object and pulling the entire leader at once. Leather coated
rubber straighteners are undesirable because the friction can damage the monofilament and weaken it. Exercise extreme care when using a rubber straightener. Moisten the rubber and pull gently.
Tapered leaders come in knotted or knotless styles. The disadvantage of a knotted tapered leader is that the knots can weaken. Knots can also catch in the guides or attract particles of moss. Coating the knots with Pliobond, Zap a Gap, or Aqua Seal can prevent these problems. The knots can also collect water drops and cause some casting spray. Although such spray is minimal, in extremely placid water conditions it can still become an annoyance. The disadvantage of a tapered knotless leader is that I seem to always buy the ones with a weakened tippet section. Consequently, the first thing that I do after I buy one is to replace the tippet section with a fresh one.
Leaders are attached to the fly line with a well-tied nail knot or a good variation of one. The juncture between fly line and leader is coated with Pliobond, Zap a Gap, or Aqua Seal for smoothness.
Of course, you can tie your own knotted leaders. The advantage of tying your own is that you can custom tie a wide variety of leaders and make them inexpensively. You can make them with very stiff butt materials and super flexible tippets, or you can tie braided butts that are very flexible and use a limp or a stiff tippet. You can also vary the leader’s length to meet your specific needs. You will need an assortment of leader sizes and styles.
My favorite knot to join different sized leaders is the triple surgeon’s knot. This knot is easier to tie than the blood knot and it doesn’t suffer from the uneven wrap that weakens a blood knot. A triple surgeon’s knot can also be used to make a loop or a dropper. I like it for tying hard nylon to a soft nylon. I coat this knot with Zap a Gap. Coating the knot prevents the hard nylon from cutting into the softer material and weakening it.
Below you can find a sample list of materials for tying your own custom made leaders:
- Braided 20 or 30 lb. test Dacron
- Maxima Ultragreen or Chameleon 25, 20, 18, 15, 10, and 8, lb. test
- Dai Riki Velvet and Dai Riki standard 0X, 1X, 2X, 3X, 4X, and 5X
- Fluorocarbon tippet spools in 12, 10, 8, and 5 lb. test
Note: Always store leader materials in a dark cool area. When exposed to artificial or sunlight, mono leaders soon deteriorate. Heat can also harm them. When buying tippet spools, select new ones right out of the box or else dig to find one at the bottom of a pile that hasn’t been exposed to light. Dark brown monofilaments are more resistant to light damage than clear monofilament. Their shelf life is much longer. My Maxima Chameleon has lasted for years.
lead·er / ˈlēdər/ • n. 1. the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country: the leader of a protest group. ∎ a person followed by others: he is a leader among his classmates. ∎ an organization or company that is the most advanced or successful in a particular area: a leader in the use of video conferencing. ∎ the horse placed at the front in a team or pair.2. the principal player in a music group. ∎ a conductor of a band or small musical group.3. Brit. a leading article or editorial in a newspaper.4. a short strip of nonfunctioning material at each end of a reel of film or recording tape for connection to the spool. ∎ a length of filament attached to the end of a fishing line to carry the hook or fly.5. a shoot of a plant at the apex of a stem or main branch.6. (leaders) Printing a series of dots or dashes across the page to guide the eye, esp. in tabulated material.DERIVATIVES: lead·er·less adj.
1. (Amer. concertmaster; Ger. Konzertmeister). Prin. 1st vn. of sym. orch.
2. Often used in USA for cond., e.g., ‘Ormandy leads the Philadelphia Orch. in…’.
3. 1st vn. of str. qt. or other chamber group.