A Relational Investigative Approach to Understanding Charismatic Leadership

Year: 2017

Author: English, Fenwick

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The observation that charisma in a leader constitutes "specific gifts of the body and spirit; these gifts have been believed to be supernatural, not accessible to everybody" (Weber, 1946, p. 245) has made any discussion regarding charisma in a leader a pursuit of identifying intrinsic capacities, styles and genetic histories which account for the charismatic gift (Conger, 1989). This "leader centric" view is the dominant one in the leadership field. What has been absent has been the notion that leadership is a relational construct, "based on the principle of positive reciprocity (Donati, 2015, p. 293). Within this alternative perspective is the idea that charisma is not a gift to be bestowed but "an interaction between an individual and a receptive audience" (Rees, 2012, p. 293), more specifically that charisma is a co-construction produced through a relationship (Ospina and Uhl-Bien, 2012, p. 7). This presentation will compare and contrast the idea of charisma not as a product from two separate entities, but rather a dynamic and fluid relationship in which both leaders and followers benefit from their charismatic co-construction.