Are you highly charismatic? You may not make an effective leader, finds study
Researchers found that high-charisma leaders were seen as less effective because they were weak on operational behaviour.more lifestyle Updated: May 31, 2017 15:22 IST
Exceptionally charismatic people may not make the best leaders, say scientists who found that those with moderate levels of charisma are more effective at managing an organisation.
“Our findings suggest that organisations may want to consider selecting applicants with mid-range levels of charisma into leadership roles, instead of extremely charismatic leaders,” said Jasmine Vergauwe, a doctoral student at Ghent University in Belgium.
Researchers took a trait perspective on charisma by measuring charismatic personality using 56 questions, known as the charismatic cluster, from the Hogan Development Survey – an instrument used to assess the personality of leaders.
The charismatic cluster focuses on four personality tendencies: bold, mischievous, colourful and imaginative, researchers said. Researchers compared the charisma scores of about 600 business leaders with their effectiveness as reported by peers, subordinates and superiors. They found that as charisma increased, so did perceived effectiveness, but only up to a point. At a certain level, as charisma scores continued to increase, perceived effectiveness started to decline.
“Leaders with both low and high charismatic personalities were perceived as being less effective than leaders with moderate levels of charisma, and this was true according to all three rater groups,” said Filip De Fruyt from Ghent University.
Researchers also found that low-charisma leaders were seen as less effective because they were not sufficiently strategic, while high-charisma leaders were seen as less effective because they were weak on operational behaviour.
An operational leader is someone who guides the team to get things done in the near term by managing the tactical details of execution, focusing resources, and managing with process discipline. Strategic leadership, on the other hand, involves effectively communicating a vision for an organisation and persuading others to share that vision.
Since they appeared to exhibit both of these behaviours in adequate amounts, moderately charismatic leaders were rated most effective, Vergauwe said.
“Highly charismatic leaders would probably gain the most from a coaching programme focused on addressing operational demands such as attending to day-to-day operations and managing an orderly work flow,” De Fruyt said.
“Low-charisma leaders, on the other hand, would benefit from training in more strategic behaviour such as spending more time and energy on long-term planning, taking a broader perspective on the business as a whole, questioning the status quo and creating a safe environment for trying new things,” he added.
The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
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