The Business Education of Charismatic Leaders and Good Soldiers

The Business Education of Charismatic Leaders and Good Soldiers

Sharon E. Norris
DOI: 10.4018/IJAVET.2018040102
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This article describes how charismatic leaders inspire followers with a vision of a better future, but attaining that better future is not easy and requires hard work, extra effort, and sacrifice. In challenging organizational environments where crisis is present, one leadership style that emerges has been described as charismatic. Charismatic leaders have a tendency to create good soldiers, a loyal band of followers who engage in organizational citizenship behaviors. These good soldiers encourage others to join the effort to create a better world and achieve goals. The difficulty sets in when charismatic leaders and their good soldiers continually ask for more of their employees, take the spotlight, diminish the contributions of others, and create an environment where the performance of extra-role behaviors becomes the expected norm. When followers are pressured to perform citizenry behaviors, they no longer do so voluntarily, which places stress on employees and eventually dampens enthusiasm and motivation. Business educators preparing the next generation of leaders need to raise awareness of the strengths and possible weaknesses associated with charismatic leadership and organizational citizenship behaviors.
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Charismatic Leadership

Across all industry sectors, the leadership style that has a tendency to emerge within hyper-competitive and high velocity environments, where change and going above and beyond the call of duty is critical for survival, has been identified as charismatic. Heifetz (1994) explains, “Particularly at the early stage of an adaptive process, charismatic authority is a very great resource for leadership” (p. 247). When there is a crisis in an organization, it is common for a charismatic leader to emerge (Pillai, 1995; Pillai & Meindle, 1991), and crisis management becomes critically important in these turbulent environments (Sheaffer, Bogler, & Sarfaty, 2011). Being responsive to crisis is one of the hallmarks of charismatic leadership (Hunt, Boal, & Dodge, 1999).

In an organizational crisis, there is a sense that an unplanned event or set of conditions may affect the performance and survival of an organization (Coombs & Holladay, 2010; Holladay & Coombs, 1994; King, 2002). Charismatic leaders provide clarity to explain unclear circumstances (Babcock-Roberson & Strickland, 2010), and they are able to convince followers to exert additional effort to achieve the goals that will bring about the leader’s vision of the future (Galvin, Balkundi, & Waldman 2010). Charismatic leaders “cause followers to become highly committed to their mission, to make significant personal sacrifices in the interest of the mission, and to perform above and beyond the call of duty” (Shamir, House, & Arthur, 1993, p. 577).

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