Charismatic leadership, combining a leader with powerful personal magnetism and a particular social and historical context, has received an enormous amount of attention over the past several decades. In this entry, charismatic leadership is defined, along with the conditions conducive to its appearance and typical features of its communication. An illustrative example is then presented, followed by some of the limitations of this form of leadership.

Defining the Concept

First introduced by German sociologist Max Weber, the word charisma comes from the Greek word


(kharisma), meaning “gift” or “divine favor.” Following this original definition, charisma refers to an extraordinary quality of a person that allows him or her to charm and influence others. In the common vernacular, charisma is often treated as a powerful personal appeal or magnetism ...

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