The charismatic leadership model is fundamentally the only leadership model where the leader's sheer personality, tenacity, and vision garner respect, adulation, and power. There are a few ways that charismatic leaders become influential within companies.
1. Possess a larger vision past the current company. When the late engineer John DeLorean designed the Pontiac GTO, Firebird, and Grand Prix for General Motors, it was almost certain that he would one day have to form his own company. The ego and drive for self-determination by charismatic leaders assures that they will become contentious with the managers of the organization. Later DeLorean would form the DeLorean Motor Company, maker of the DeLorean DMC-12 sports car. By having a compelling vision and marketable skills, these leaders are able to wield power inside and outside of a company. The fact that charismatic leaders have talents that can be leveraged for optimal positioning allows them to gain influence within a company until he is either forced out or leaves the company on his own.
2. Recruit and attract disciples within a company. Employees who admire a charismatic leader's personality and ambition will emulate his style as well as jockey for roles on projects led by the leader. Through these disciples or supporters within the company, these leaders create internal networks that facilitate the acquisition and distribution of information. Such information allows the charismatic leader to be knowledgeable about upcoming threats and opportunities. Because these leaders are agile and mobile when exploiting opportunities, they can determine if an opportunity allows them to play a larger role within a company or leave to set up operations elsewhere. In this vein, supporters might be inclined to leave with the charismatic leader causing a potential drought of skilled workers within a company.
3. Create innovative initiatives and are great self-promoters. The keys to exploiting a great idea include the creation and implementation of a marketing plan. Through formalized communication structures like internal memos and newsletters or informal communication structures like disciples and supporters, charismatic leaders are able to self-promote within a company. Often this marketing strategy complements the overall goals of the company, which allows the charismatic leader to maintain influence.
Charismatic leaders create personal systems within an overarching corporate structure to gain influence as well as execute plans. These leaders' ability to see the gaps within an organization, thus allowing innovation, creates the perception of indispensability. The converts of this brand of leadership feel a sense of attachment and significance and are willing to invest their resources to be a part of a vision larger than themselves. As long as the leader's vision aligns with the corporate mission, there is synergy. However, when the two are not aligned, the charismatic leader is fired or leaves the company to facilitate his vision elsewhere.
Edward Brown, M.S., is a researcher and lead instructor for Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute, Inc., which teaches clients how to profit and lead their industry by developing charisma. He is the author of nine books including: Image, Power & Charisma, Power Moves for Those with Limited Cash, Clout & Connections, and Principles of Charismatic Leadership: The Missing Link.
Brown is the host for the online talk show Charisma Live and Editor of the blog, Charisma Today. He has advanced legal training from the University of Dayton School of Law and a master's degree from Mercer University in Leadership Development.