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Charismatic Leadership 101: Advantages, Disadvantages, and Differences

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When you need to convince people, overcome resistance, or inspire action, there’s one leadership style that stands out among the rest: charismatic leadership.

Charismatic leaders are charming, influential, dynamic, confident, and persuasive. They make their employees, leaders, coworkers, and customers feel like the goal at hand is achievable, even if they face an upwards battle.

While it may not be your dominant leadership style, every leader can learn something from and, at times, utilize the charismatic leadership style. That’s why the following article provides a definition of charismatic leadership, the advantages and disadvantages of the style, and a brief comparison between it and other common leadership styles.


Do you know what your leadership style is? If not, take this quiz to find out!


What Is Charismatic Leadership?

By definition, the charismatic leadership style uses verbal and nonverbal communication to charm, influence, and persuade others to help them fulfill their mandate or see things as they do. This type of leader makes those around them believe that they can achieve any goal or milestone, even in the face of adversity. They do this by displaying a positive attitude, showing empathy, telling stories, using humor, reading people, and working a room.

Charismatic Leadership Definition


What Are the Advantages of Charismatic Leadership?

It can be hugely beneficial as a leader to have the charisma that allows you to influence and persuade those around you. In fact, according to research, here are the advantages of the charismatic leadership style: 


What Are the Disadvantages of Charismatic Leadership?

If you’re going to adopt the charismatic leadership style, then it’s essential to be aware of the potential disadvantages. First, it has been found that employees led by charismatic leaders will sometimes behave unethically in order to meet their leader’s high-performance standards. Secondly, Harvard notes that because “charisma is rooted in emotional manipulation, it can lead followers to abandon rational thought and accept ideas uncritically.”


How Is Charismatic Leadership Different From the Other Leadership Styles?

Given how many leadership styles there are, it is common for there to be some confusion around how one differs from another. To help dispel some of that confusion, here’s an overview of the differences between charismatic leadership and the transformational, servant, visionary, and authentic leadership styles. 


Charismatic Leadership vs. Transformational Leadership

The difference between charismatic vs. transformational leadership might not be clear at first glance, given that both rely on strong communication skills, empathy, and the ability to establish strong connections with those they work with. However, the critical difference is that transformational leaders use that to forward the vision of the department/organization, while a charismatic leader may use that to forward their own agenda.


Charismatic Leadership vs. Servant Leadership

As the name servant leadership suggests, this leadership style is all about serving others. The Corporate Finance Institute states that “[these] leaders aspire to serve their team and the organization first ahead of personal objectives. It is a selfless leadership style where a leader possesses a natural feeling to serve for the greater good.” This is what differentiates it from charismatic leadership. Unlike a servant leader, a charismatic leader may sometimes use their charm, persuasion, and connections to forward their personal agenda.


Charismatic Leadership vs. Visionary Leadership

While the charismatic leadership style relies on one's charisma to influence and persuade others to help them achieve their mandate, the visionary leadership style does so by casting a vision. It’s the vision itself that is compelling and inspiring, not the leader.


Charismatic Leadership vs. Authentic Leadership

Those who use the authentic leadership style are, by definition, “deeply aware of how they think, behave, and are perceived by others. They are aware of their own and others' values, moral perspectives, knowledge, and strengths. They are confident, hopeful, optimistic, resilient, and of high moral character.” The difference between this style of leadership and the charismatic style is that authentic leaders speak and act in a way that aligns with their values, regardless of whether or not it is charismatic, influential, or persuasive.


Next Steps: Take the Quiz to Learn If Your Leadership Style is Charismatic

Evidently, it can be advantageous to utilize the charismatic leadership style in the workplace. But like any leadership style, there are audiences and situations where it won’t have the intended effect. To find out whether or not your leadership style is charismatic, take this leadership style quiz.