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2 The “Dark Side” of Charismatic Leadership – How can Organizations deal with it?
In recent years insolvencies of German companies have dramatically increased. Were it around 33 000 companies in 2003 who were filed for insolvency, more than double that amount (68 898 companies) became bankrupt in 2005 (Statistisches Bundesamt, 2006, p. 352), and one can only imagine the aftermath the financial crisis will have on companies worldwide. The reasons are manifold: recession, international competitive pressures, and high production costs. However, seldom the very leaders of these organizations admit to their responsibility in company failures. Many of these leaders are charismatic leaders. On the one hand they possess substantial skill sets vital for organizations, especially in times of crisis and uncertainty, and on the other hand they can be detrimental for a company when using their skills in a wrong way. This is often referred to as the “dark side” of charismatic leadership. The essay tries to analyse ways, in which organizations are able to take advantage of the charismatic leader, without having to deal with the dark side to a large extent.
2 The “Dark Side” of Charismatic Leadership – How Organizations can deal with it
Charisma entails certain key skills that make up a successful and influential leader such as the establishment of a strategic vision, good articulation (i.e. persuasive speaking, dominant body language), sensitivity to the environment (e.g. seeking opportunities beyond the status quo), sensitivity to follower needs (e.g. good listener, someone to trust), as well as unconventional behaviour (Conger & Kanungo, 1998, pp. 114-115). Successful charismatic leaders are defined by their strong self-responsibility, self-confidence, and ethical beliefs, as well as their willingness to sacrifice and challenge the rules, and by that being capable of precipitating advantages for both the leader and the followers. However, these qualities come along with a not completely unavoidable repercussion, namely the dark side of leadership. According to McIntosh (1998), “the dark side refers to our inner urges, compulsions, motivations, and dysfunctions that...undermine ouraccomplishments” (p.29). He further argues that “characteristics that underlie the darkside are pride, selfishness, decep tion, and wrong motives” (p.40).