The dark-side of charisma and charismatic leadership

Evangelia Fragouli (Lead / Corresponding author)

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    Charisma and charismatic style of leadership has been a topic of much debate and critique. Charismatic leaders can transform organizations by motivating members to higher levels of commitment and performance by inspiring them with an appealing vision that is highly discrepant to an unsatisfying status quo. However, there is also a “dark side” to charismatic leaders. They can increase risk levels to organizations and threaten the well-being of members. The personalized need for power, negative life themes, and narcissistic tendencies of personalized charismatic leaders can lead to unethical and destructive behavior.Charismatic leaders are perceived as heroes that are able to use their personal allure to lead others and charisma is considered to be used for honorable reasons. The paper challenges Weber’s approach of charisma, and, through the application of a methodological approach of a critical literature review and qualitative analysis of short case studies, the study proves that charisma is a quality that can be developed, taught and acquired through training like any other skill. As charisma regards relationships between people, and, charismatic leadership relationships between a leader and his followers, since it can be developed and acquired by ordinary, the paper shows that charisma can also be manipulated and abused, so charisma can be used for less-than-honorable reasons and thus the ‘dark side’ of charisma This contradicts the prevailing definitions and positive connotations of charisma and point out the danger of a person learning how to be charismatic. The issue of compromise of morals and ethics by leaders, who use charisma as a tool, is explored in the paper, and, recommendations are provided of how the dark side of leadership can be avoided.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)298-307
    Number of pages10
    JournalBusiness and Management Review
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018
    Event8th International Conference on Restructuring of the Global Economy - University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    Duration: 9 Jul 201810 Jul 2018


    • Charisma
    • leadership
    • manipulation
    • ethics
    • performance


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