Managers, Leaders and… Charisma
The concept of management draws from and is an object of study in philosophy, history, political science, sociology, psychology, military science and theology while the concept of leadership is also an area of interest and study for most of these fields.
A broad discussion has emerged concerning similarities and differences between leaders and managers as persons, and of leadership and management as a process revealed by observable behaviour of such persons.
Bennis and Nanus, in a book considered significant for management, considered managers as persons who master routines and accomplish prescribed activities in contrast to leaders who influence others and provide visions: “Managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right things”.
Plato, Aristotle & Weber
For Plato, leaders are not born with the innate capacity to manage but must be carefully chosen and trained to do so and through proper education become aristocrats of merit and knowledge.
Aristotle did not favour aristocracy and insisted that leaders-managers should acquire ‘sophrosyne’ (a term designating temperance and prudence and even a harmonious state of self-control).
In modern human resource management jargon, Plato would be relying on the qualitative approach to management and leadership while Aristotle would be the practitioner basing his acts on empirical search.
Weber brought to modern sociology and by extension to management theory the ancient Greek term of “charisma” which means a gift of grace, a mysterious personality characteristic of an individual personality.
Managers and leaders appeal to their subordinates and followers because of their heroic, religious or ethical aptitudes, skills or dexterities irrespective of the reality of actually being so or thought to be so by them.
“Great Men” and the Business world
As management theories developed in the last few decades, the “Great Man” concept in politics and religion shifted to the business world. A corollary to this was the introduction of the theory differentiating transactional leadership and transformational leadership.
Transactional leadership in management theory presupposes an exchange process of mutual dependence founded in the authority structure of an enterprise or organization. This type of managerial leadership appeals to the subordinates and follower’s self-interest and the manager-leader’s clarification of work tasks and expectations, and corresponding rewards or punishments.
Transformational leadership shows the significance of human relations qualities in the crucial interdependency of the manager-leader-subordinate-follower relationship, resulting in elevated dedication to goal achievement in private or public enterprises and organizations.
Transformational leadership theories, denoting inspirational leadership, are very closely related to the concept of “charisma”.
Charismatic managers in modern companies who display conviction and take stands can capture not only the imagination but the hearts and loyalty of their subordinates and colleagues. In the modern production floors and executive management suites they create inspirational motivation towards achievement of corporate or organizational visions.
Transformational management generates awareness of the mission or vision of the company and motivates subordinates and colleagues to look beyond their own interest toward those that will benefit the enterprise or the organization.
Transformational managers motivate others to do more than they originally intended and often even more than they thought possible. They set more challenging expectations and typically achieve higher performances.