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Despite the fact that rhetoric plays important role in the attribution of charisma, this topic has faced severe apathetic treatment in the hands of leadership scholars. Understanding this important component of communication will help us in comprehending the charisma of leaders and how it helped them in winning the support of their followers. This article serves twin agendas, first to critically examine all the major research works in the field of charismatic leader's rhetoric and its effectiveness. Secondly, it highlights the areas which has either not been covered in the previous researches or been cursorily touched upon like, rhetoric of personalised charismatic and its dark effects, rhetoric and charisma in the oriental societies and charismatic leader's rhetoric in information technology era.
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A Peer Reviewed International Journal
of Asian Research Consortium
*Research Scholar,
Indian Institute of Technology,
Kharagpur, W.B, India.
*Assistant Professor,
Indian Institute of Technology,
Kharagpur, W.B, India.
Despite the fact that rhetoric plays important role in the attribution of charisma, this
topic has faced severe apathetic treatment in the hands of leadership scholars.
Understanding this important component of communication will help us in
comprehending the charisma of leaders and how it helped them in winning the
support of their followers. This article serves twin agendas, first to critically examine
all the major research works in the field of charismatic leader’s rhetoric and its
effectiveness. Secondly, it highlights the areas which has either not been covered in
the previous researches or been cursorily touched upon like, rhetoric of personalised
charismatic and its dark effects, rhetoric and charisma in the oriental societies and
charismatic leader’s rhetoric in information technology era.
KEYWORDS: Charisma, Rhetoric, Leadership, metaphors, stories, impression
Leaders’ in general and charismatic leaders’ in particular are associated with the gift of gab. A
number of researchers have put forth the idea that the charismatic relationship is grounded in
language (e.g.,Conger,1991;Conger & Kanungo,1988;Gardner & Avolio,1998;House
&Shamir,1993;Willner,1984). For most people, the charismatic leader is a spellbinding, or at
least a highly effective orator (Bryman, 1992). Willner (1984) described charismatic leaders as
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“spellbinders,” whose magnetic personalities and dynamic speaking skills motivate followers to
achieve high levels of performance in such contexts. Conger (1989, p.92) described charismatic
leaders as “meaning makers” , according to him these leaders articulate a compelling, beautiful
and bright future for the organisation by using value laden words which appeals to the emotions
of the employees and provides meaning to their endeavour. Leaders’ rhetoric play vital role in
the process of attribution of charisma and also acts as a catalyst in recruiting followers and
increasing their identification with the leader and the mission (Schweitzer, 1984; Willner, 1984;
Bryman, 1992).
Although in last three decades, there has been a steady and inspiring increase in research
investigations in the area of New Leadership. Such leadership includes charismatic leadership
(House,1977 ;Conger & Kanungo,1987,1989;Shamir et al,1993,Gardner & Avolio,1998)
,transformational leadership ( Burns,1978;Bass,1985;Avolio & Bass,1988),visionary leadership (
Bennis & Nanus,1985;Sashkin,1988) and inspirational leadership (Yukl & Van Fleet ,1982). We
refer to this new genre of leadership theories as charismatic because charisma is a central
concept in all of them, either explicitly or implicitly. Astonishingly, however, there are no
current explanations of why leader rhetoric is related to charisma, nor an explanation of what
makes a speech charismatic, in the sense of producing strong emotional and motivational effects
on followers (Shamir et al., 1994).Emrich, Brower, Feldman,& Garland (2001) note that
although much is known about charisma, less is known about “ how leaders articulate a vision
that is sufficiently compelling to evoke attributions of charisma and greatness among the
followers”(p.527).Behavioural theories of Charisma (House,1977;Bass,1985;conger &
Kanungo,1987) do not address the issue of leader rhetoric explicitly. The only exception would
be the dramaturgical perspective of charismatic leadership postulated by Gardner and Avolio
(1998). Meanwhile, studies on leader oratory are not based on a theory of charismatic leadership,
and tend to focus on the style of speeches ,rather than on their content .These studies emphasize
either oratorical devices such as repetitions and three part lists(Atkinson,1984),alliteration and
the use of metaphors (Willner,1984;Conger,1989),or nonverbal aspects ,such as tone of
voice(Schweitzer,1984),hand gestures (Bull,1986),and eye contact(Atkinson,1984).
This article strives to serve two purposes; first, two provide a critical investigation of
relevant and important theories and research investigation on charismatic leader’s rhetoric and its
subsequent effect on followers. Secondly, it throws light on the future research directions of
charismatic leaders’ communication in context of changing socio-economic-business dynamics.
The word charisma is a Greek word meaning gift. It is used in two letters of St. Paul-
Romans, Chapter 12 and 1 Corinthians, Chapter 12- in the Christian Bible to describe the Holy
Spirit. Prophecy, ruling, teaching, ministry, wisdom and healing are among the charismatic gifts
described in it. Over time the word also came to signify the basis of ecclesiastical organisation
for the Church itself. The various roles played by the members of the Church were determined
by gifts of God, rather than by a set of rules or procedures designed by man (Conger & Kanungo,
1987).Although the term was made popular by Max Weber the German sociologist it was
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Rudolph Sohm who was first to use the term charisma in explaining church as a charismatic
institution. Rudolph Sohm was a Church historian in Germany.
In trying to understand the rise of the Prussian bureaucracy, Max Weber (1924/1947)
introduced the formerly religious concept of charisma to the study of leadership and
organisations. He proposed three types of authority-rational-legal, traditional and charismatic.
This became of interest in the sociological study of political and social movements as well as in
the psychoanalytical interpretations of historical leadership. In the early decades of 20th century
Eric Fromm and Sigmund Freud also provided psychoanalytical explanations of charismatic
personality. Till 1970s Charisma was subject of discussion and debate among political and
sociological scholars and was hardly mentioned in any management literature. It all changed in
the end of the 1970s when Robert House wrote an article “The 1976 theory of charismatic
leadership “on charismatic leadership and its influence on the followers. This was followed by
James Burns’s seminal book “Leadership” which introduced the concept of transformational
leadership which is ideologically and theoretically different from traditional transactional
leadership. These two writings on charismatic leadership set the motion for other researchers and
scholars and the field of leadership was once again able to attract the attention of researchers and
funding agencies.
The list of contributors to this extraordinary field of leadership known as Neo-charismatic
(House and Aditya, 1997) or, New Leadership (Bryman, 1992) is very exhaustive and illustrious.
Few of the names which we commonly associate with this school are Bernard Bass, Bruce
Avolio, Jay Conger, Rabindra Kanungo, Alan Bryman, Jane Howell, Boas Shamir, Francis
Yammarino, Ronald Riggio, Michael Arthur, Janice Beyer, Katherine Klein, William Gardner,
James Hunt, and Gary Yukl etc. Today, hundreds of doctoral dissertations and thousands of
studies been carried out in this field still we have gained very little in terms of charismatic
leader’s ability to motivate followers and other stakeholders with their rhetoric.
Although there are several theories and research investigations related to leaders
rhetorical ability and its effectiveness. This article tries to highlight only the ones which are
either directly related to charismatic leadership or their rhetorical behaviours or, have furthered
the area through suggestions and directions. Because of the paucity of space the article has
briefly mentioned certain important ones and discussed only a few in details.
Willner’s (1984) discussion of the three elements in the verbal communication that she
felt is typical of charismatic leaders’ eloquence. First, the ability to adapt the level of language to
the audience. Second, rhetorical devices related to sound such as repetition, rhythm and
alliteration .Third, charismatic leaders’ powerful use of figurative language and imagery, such as
metaphors. Another point which she made is the gearing of the used language to different
audiences. The level of spoken language e.g. elevated, literal or colloquial is important as
different levels may have different associations and emotive power. Willner provided the
example of Franklin D. Roosevelt who very effectively tailored public talks to the man in the
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Howell and Frost (1989) in a laboratory experiment manipulated leadership by having
professional actors playing one of the three distinct styles: charismatic, structuring, and
considerate. The duo varied both verbal and nonverbal behaviours to depict alternative
leadership styles. For the charismatic leadership treatment, the actor’s delivery included vocal
variety, eye contact, relaxed posture, and animated facial expressions. It was observed that
subordinates working with charismatic leaders witness higher levels of task performance and
task satisfaction, and lower levels of role conflict, in comparison to other two leadership types
(Awamleh & Gardner, 1999).
Holladay & Coombs (1993, 1994) in a series of experiments tried to reveal the impact of
leaders’ rhetoric on followers’ attribution of charisma. In the first of the two experiments
Holladay & Coombs (1993) focussed directly on the effects of delivery by holding the content of
a videotaped speech constant. Body gestures, posture, vocal fluency, and eye contact were
manipulated. As, expected perceptions of charisma were greater in the strong as opposed to the
weak delivery treatment. In a follow-up study, Holladay and Coombs (1994) extended their
initial study by manipulating both vision content and delivery. Speech content was varied to
project either a visionary or non-visionary message. Significant main effects for both content and
delivery were obtained, with the visionary content and strong delivery condition eliciting higher
levels of perceived charisma than that with non-visionary content and weak delivery. Of special
interest is the finding that the combination of non-visionary content and strong delivery produced
greater perceptions of charisma than the opposite combination (Awamleh & Gardner, 1999).
This implies that the effects of delivery are more pronounced than those of content.
Kirkpatrick & Locke (1996) in their laboratory experiment manipulated vision (vision
versus no vision) and delivery, although delivery was referred to as communication style
(charismatic versus non-charismatic) .It was found that vision contribute to positive follower
attributions, increased trust in the leader , and positive congruence between the leader’s and
followers’ beliefs and attitudes. Vision motivated followers to set quality goals and raised their
self-efficacy, which in turn increased their performance. Unexpectedly, there was no evidence
that delivery impacted followers’ performance or attitudes (Awamleh & Gardner,
1999).However; the authors maintained that irrespective of the findings, delivery is a key
determinant of perceived charisma.
Awamleh & Gardner (1999) examined the effects of vision content, delivery and
organisational performance on perceptions of leader charisma and effectiveness. They included
undergraduate students as subjects who were shown videotaped speeches by a bogus CEO of a
software company. The subjects were then asked to identify message content (visionary/non-
visionary), delivery (strong/weak) and organisational performance (high/low). The experiment
also tested the assertions forwarded by Meindl that people generally tend to romanticise
leadership by over attributing organisational outcomes to leadership. The findings of this
laboratory tests were consistent with previous findings, the results indicate that delivery is a
major determinant of perceived leader charisma and effectiveness. Strong delivery, non-
visionary content, and low performance created stronger perceptions of both charisma and leader
effectiveness than weak delivery, visionary content, and high organisational performance
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(Awamleh & Gardner, 1999).The psychometric shortcomings of Romance of Leadership Scale
(RLS) is also highlighted through this experiment.
Den Hartog & Verburg (1997) studied the powerful rhetoric of well known charismatic
CEOs of three multinational companies (Anita Roddick-The Body Shop; Matthew Barrett –
Bank of Montreal; Jan Timmer – Phillips). The bases of international strategy and management
mentality are expected to be reflected in the content of the speeches of the CEOs. The content of
the vision and of speeches designed to communicate the vision followers is extremely important
in gaining follower acceptance of and commitment to the mission. For that they employed
discourse analysis to further unravel the rhetorical construction of charismatic speeches. They
conclude that charismatic leaders rely heavily on the following rhetorical devices to evoke
positive audience reactions:
1. Contrast – Describing the subjects in terms of its opposite, e.g., “leaders are born
not made”.
2. Lists – especially three parts lists
e.g. , “Government of the people, by the people, for the people”.
3. Puzzle-solution /headline-punchline- Increasing audience
interest in a solution or punchline, by presenting a puzzle or headline.
4. Position taking- Offering a more or less neutral description of a state of affairs,
and then strongly agreeing or disagreeing.
5. Pursuit, Repetition and Alliteration- Actively pursuing an audience reaction by
emphasizing a point just made.
(Source: Atkinson, 1984; Heritage and Greatbatch, 1986)
Together, these rhetorical analyses make a compelling case that the content and
construction of a leader’s vision can serve as powerful sources for follower inspiration.
CONGER (1991)
Jay Conger was the first among management theorists in the Neo-charismatic or New
leadership school to focus on Charismatic leader’s speaking prowess .He was of the firm belief
that effective leaders are skilful craftsmen of their organisation’s mission; they are capable of
communicating the message in a passionate way which generates lot of intrinsic appeal among
various stakeholders .Though, the popular management literature sans emotional expressiveness
and supports hard and verifiable quantified data in the form of charts and bar graphs ,the tone
and message conveys very limited range of energy and emotion. A more educated, more
intrinsically motivated workplace demands that executives and managers recast their image more
in the light of an effective political leader. They must learn to sell themselves and their missions
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to 'stump' for their cause and this depends on highly effective language skills (Conger, 1991).
According to him “The language of leadership” can be divided into two distinct skill categories -
Framing& Rhetorical Crafting.
Framing is the process of defining the purpose of the organization in a meaningful way.
The leader has to be careful in his or her selection of words to create a compelling and attractive
impression in the mind of employees and various stakeholders. In the simplest terms, a leader
can choose to say "I want us to build X number of products by this year and return so much on
our assets" or "I want us to revolutionize the way people see and act in the world through the use
of our products." Both statements are defining a purpose, though with very different meanings.
Both are distinct ways of "framing" an organization's purpose one around -quantitative measures,
the other around a grander purpose. Frames then are essentially snapshots that leaders take of
their organization's purpose (Conger, 1991).
To create a meaningful frame for an organizational mission, values and beliefs play vital
role especially in reinforcing commitment and providing guidance for daily actions. We know
from research on transformational leadership that at the core of effective leadership is the
creation of values which inspire, provide meaning for, and instil a sense of purpose in an
organization's members (Bennis & Nanus, 1985; Zalezenik, 1977).The leader requires to keep in
mind four important points while framing the organisation’s goals or mission, these four points
are a) the mission's or task's importance, b) its root causes or need, c) stereotypes about
antagonists of the mission (both within the organization and externally) and d) the efficacy of the
organization to succeed (Snow et al.,1986).
Rhetorical Crafting is the art of lending symbolic meaning to the words which goes
beyond the literal meaning. In doing so they employ number of rhetorical techniques such as
metaphors and analogy or different language styles or rhythmic devices to ensure that the
symbolic content of their message has a profound impact.
Metaphors and analogies have this unique ability to touch deep cultural roots and as a result able
to elicit stronger emotions (Willner, 1984).According to speech communication experts these
devices appear to excite the imaginations of the listener and keep them involved and engaged in
consecutive state of tension and tension release. Psychologists believe that rhetorical devices are
more effective and persuasive means of communicating ideas because of the vividness they
display. Stories for example, convey more vividly the values and behaviours that are important to
an organisation (Osborn & Ehninger, 1962).
Another component of rhetoric which plays important role in leader’s charisma is related
to sound, such as repetition, rhythm, balance and alliteration. A certain rhythm can often
mesmerize an audience. In his speeches, Roosevelt often employed alliteration the repetition of
initial consonant sounds in two or more neighbouring words or syllables.
In describing the leadership of the Depression, he states:
Those who tilled the soil no longer reaped the rewards which were their right. The small
measure of their gains was decreed by men in distant cities. .. Individual initiative was crushed in
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the cogs of a great machine. The message was heightened by alliteration as shown by the letters
(r-, r-, r-, d-, d-, i-, i-, c-, c-) which left terrific impression on the audience.
Finally, paralanguage or the sound of speech is an additional important factor in effective
communication. Through appropriate paralanguage, one can communicate an image of self-
confidence and power.
Conger’s article underlined the need to study charismatic leaders, rhetoric and language
so as to have a deeper and richer understanding of this beautiful and awe inspiring leadership
style. Although, he attempted to throw light on both aspects of leader’s rhetorical skills i.e.
leader’s speech as well as the delivery of the speech, the theory was blamed of being very
general and non specific.
SHAMIR ET AL. (1994)
In order to study the rhetorical behaviour of charismatic leader Shamir and his colleagues
referred to their self concept theory of charismatic leadership (Shamir et al. 1993). According to
that, charismatic leaders achieve its effects not by changing the reward cognitions of followers
but rather by implicating their self-concepts. This theory rests on the following assumptions
about the self-concept and its motivational implications proposed by Shamir et al (1994) :
1. Humans are not only pragmatic and goal oriented but also self expressive.
2. People are motivated to maintain and enhance their self esteem and self worth.
3. People are also motivated to retain and increase their sense of self consistency.
4. Self concepts are composed, in part of identities which are organised in a hierarchy of
salience, and identity-salience is reflected in behaviour.
5. Being hopeful in the sense of having faith in a better future is intrinsically satisfying
condition, and therefore humans may be motivated by faith.
Based on these assumptions, Shamir et al. (1993) propose five processes by which charismatic
leaders have their motivated effects on followers. These are:
1. Increasing the intrinsic value of effort expended in the pursuit of goals.
2. Empowerment of followers by increasing self-efficacy and collective-efficacy
3. Increasing the intrinsic value of goal accomplishment.
4. Instilling faith in a better future.
5. Increasing followers’ commitment.
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(Source: Shamir et al., 1994)
Shamir et al. believed that charismatic leaders recruit and engage the self-concept of
followers by two principal methods: role modelling and frame alignment. The term “frame
alignment” (Snow et al., 1986) refers to the linkage of individual and leader interpretive
orientations. The term “frame” denotes “schemata of interpretation” (Goffman, 1974) that enable
individuals to locate, perceive, and label occurrences within their life space and the world at
large. By rendering events or occurrences meaningful, frames function to organise experience
and to guide action, whether individual or collective (Goffman, 1974, p.464).
Charismatic leaders employ various ways to engage in frame alignment, one of such
ways is through their speeches. In their speeches charismatic leaders use words and phrases in
such a manner that it articulate an ideology clearly, often using labels and slogans; provide a
vivid image of the future; exemplify certain identities and values; and suggest linkages between
expected behaviours ,exemplified values and identities , and their vision of the future.
Shamir et al. further proposed seven testable propositions that categorically separate
charismatic leaders from non-charismatic leaders in terms of their speech content. The seven
propositions are as follows:
1. More references to collective history and to the continuity between the past and the
2. More references to the collective and to collective identity, and fewer references to
individual self-interest.
3. More positive references to followers’ worth and efficacy as individuals and as a
4. More references to the leader’s similarity to followers and identification with followers;
5. More references to values and moral justifications , and fewer references to tangible
outcomes and instrumental justifications;
6. More references to distal goals and distant future , and fewer references to proximal goals
and the near future; and
7. More references to hope and faith.
(Source: Shamir et al., 1994)
To further emphasize their point Shamir et al. in their article carried out a content
analysis of the speech of Jesse Jackson who is widely regarded as a charismatic leader. Jesse
Jackson’s speech to the National Convention of the Democratic Party on July 19, 1988, in
Atlanta, Georgia is highly regarded as inspirational, uplifting and rhetorical. Wall Street Journal
claimed that “20 years from now we will still be talking about this speech” (July 19, 1988).
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Although Shamir and his colleagues’ article is considered to be the first true empirical
investigation of charismatic leaders’ rhetorical behaviour since it stated several (seven)
propositions which can be field tested to find the proposed relationship, it is accused of
concentrating only on the content or framing part of the speech thereby missing on the delivery
of the message which is equally important if not more important.
Charismatic leaders are exceptionally expressive persons, who employ rhetoric to
persuade, influence, and mobilise others (Bass, 1985, 1988).Friedman, Riggio, and Caseslla
define personal charisma “as a dramatic flair involving the desire and ability to communicate
emotions and thereby inspire others” (1988:204).Conger (1989) believes charismatic leaders to
be meaning makers. They pick and choose from the rough materials of reality to construct
pictures of great possibilities .Their persuasion then is of subtlest kind, for they interpret reality
to offer us images of the future that are irresistible. Gardner and Avolio have proposed a
dramaturgical framework to describe the “processes whereby social actors use impression
management to create and maintain identities as charismatic leaders” (1998, p.32).They utilised
the dramaturgical perspective advanced by Goffman (1959) and refined by
other authors e.g. , Bozeman & Kacmar,1997; Brissett & Edgley,1990;
Gardner,1992;Gardner & Martinko,1988b;Giacalone & Rosenfeld 1989,1991;Leary &
Kowalski,1990;Rosenfeld,Giacolone & Riordan , 1995;Schlenker,1980,1985;Schlenker &
In the dramaturgical theory proposed by Gardner and Avolio there is an interaction
between leader, followers and the environment where leader or the main protagonist establishes
himself or herself in the eyes of internal and external organisational players like followers,
suppliers, competitors, and customers (Pradhan & Pradhan, 2011). The leader strives to create a
desired identity image of a trustworthy, credible, morally worthy, innovative, esteemed and
powerful individual. These charismatic leaders are known to possess high levels of self-esteem
and self-monitoring ability (one’s capacity to monitor and control expressive behaviours).They
demonstrates high need for power and high activity inhibition as impression management
behaviours. It was House in 1977 who proposed a relationship between need for power (as
defined by McClelland, 1985) and behavioural charisma. McClelland conceived the need as a
non conscious motive that varies from person to person, and that varies in strength within a given
person, as arousing cues in the environment fluctuate across time. Activity inhibition which is
defined as “the extent to which an individual uses available power to achieve institutional and or
social goals rather than purely personal goals” (House, 1991).This implies that leaders with a
high need for power who use their power for personal gain, are most likely to be judged as
exemplary charismatic, this is because they are also seen as trustworthy, morally worthy, and
self-sacrificing leaders who have followers’ best interests at heart.
The followers play crucial role as co-protagonists in this dramaturgy. Shamir et al. (1993)
argued that the key means by which leaders impact followers’ identities are role modelling
(exemplification) and frame alignment. Through, role modelling the leader provides an ideal , a
point of reference and focus for followers’ emulation and vicarious learning whereas frame
 
alignment helps in aligning the interests and values of followers and the goals, activities and
ideology with that of the leader. The self esteem of followers of charismatic leaders is a
debatable topic as many believe the followers to have low self-esteem and that they suffer from
emotional distress (Galanter, 1982) whereas , Sidani (1993) has found that charismatic attract
highly confident followers and these confident followers rate their charismatic bosses highly than
their non confident counterparts. Environment also plays important role in this dramaturgy where
leaders through their impression management try to create and retain image of a charismatic
The leader impression management model, involves four phases: a) framing; b) scripting; c)
staging; d) performing (Gardner and Avolio, 1998).
Framing refers to overall perspective according to which a message can be interpreted
(Goffman, 1974).The framing process thus involves meaning management and the construction
and articulation of a particular world-view within which specific communication make sense. It
is a quality of communication that causes others to accept one meaning over another. Gardner
and Avolio (1998) stated that in framing their vision, charismatic leaders choose words that
amplify audience values, stress importance on efficacy and if necessary, will denigrate their
opponents (e.g. competitors).
Scripting has been defined by Benford and Hunt ( 1992) as “built upon” frames .The
difference between framing and scripting is that the latter proposes actionable ideas .It translates
the frames into more practical and doable action plan. The script provides a set of stage
directions that guide the performance, and embraces aspects such as the casting of characters,
creation of dialogue, and direction of the performance
Staging incorporates non linguistic semiotic systems into performance (e.g. physical
appearance , props, symbols, etc).History is full of examples, where a leader is attenuates and
emphasizes his/her charisma with the help of an external prop. For example, General George
Patton always carried his pearl handled pistol whereas General Douglas MacArthur wore
strangely formed hats and a long pipe. Mahatma Gandhi wore clothing which he knit himself as
symbol of inspiration and example for others to defy British colonial rule, since at that time
manufacturing cotton clothing was banned in India.
Performing is the final phase of impression management which involves the “actual
enactment of scripted behaviours and relationships” (Gardner and Avolio, 1998,
p.44).Charismatic leaders like Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi exemplifies
trustworthiness and moral responsibility and portrayed this through their clothing(Gandhi’s
wearing of loin cloth) ,speeches (King’s “I have a dream) and actions (Gandhi’s call for Civil
disobedience movement and King’s massive rally to protest against racial discrimination).They
also perform in ways that promotes their vision of the future, and promote the organisation or
cause they lead/serve/embody. Performing, according to Goffman (1967) also includes
“facework”. Facework is the way a leader defends itself or save its own image during a
 
Charisma is a co-constructed theatrical event, which takes casting of both leaders and
followers as protagonists and competitors as antagonists to bring off the charismatic effect. The
theory of dramaturgy sheds light on the behaviours and motives of charismatic leaders which
portrays them in good light. This is the epitome of leader’s rhetoric and persuasion.
In last two decades our understanding of charismatic leadership and the rhetorical
behaviours of the leaders has been impressive; still there are many pertinent topics in this area
which has been either cursorily mentioned or summarily ignored.
There is conspicuous absence of research in the area of abuse of rhetoric and impression
management by charismatic leaders. Howell and House (1992) categorised charismatics into two
types - Personalised and Socialised Charismatic. The former behaves in an exploitative, self -
aggrandizing ways whereas the latter behaves in a socially desirable manner. History is replete
with such charismatic political leaders like Hitler and cult leaders like Jim Jones and David
Koresch who through their fiery rhetoric and false impression management techniques created
havoc in the lives of many. There is a dearth of research investigation which explores the dark
and destructive side of charismatic leaders’ rhetoric.
Alan Bryman (1992, p.58) speaks of the tendency to associate charisma and powerful
oratory “in the west”. This statement raises a question that “Is eloquence not that important for
attributions of charisma in the East?”There are various examples which suggests that there are
various cultural nuances which divides the East from the West in terms of leader’s rhetoric like
aggressive hand gestures, pauses, humour and enthusiasm in voice (Trompennars,1993)
.Cultural differences in the use and effectiveness of rhetorical devices, content categories
,communicator style and delivery elements provide interesting lines of future research.
Another area which deserves our due attention is how charismatic leader’s rhetoric is
affected by the advent of information technology? In today’s world where information travels
literally faster than light and where leaders should be technology competent to reach out to
globally dispersed followers. The very definition and role of rhetoric has changed. Surprisingly
and unfortunately our knowledge in this regards is negligible. Our knowledge of such interesting
and intriguing form of leadership will be far from complete without addressing these important
but neglected issues.
Rhetoric has played and will continue to play a significant role in the emergence and
maintenance of charismatic leadership. But with the change in time and circumstances their roles
will also go through significant changes. In this article we have juxtaposed all the major research
works and empirical investigations in the field of charismatic leadership and rhetoric for our
understanding of their influence and effect on various stakeholders .We have focussed primarily
on the works done in the past century which has become the gold standard for other researches in
the field. Through this article we have also drawn attention of future researchers towards certain
important but neglected issues in this field like the dark side of charismatic leader’s rhetoric,
 
rhetoric and charisma in other cultures (non North American culture) especially in the East
where persuasion has a completely different definition and interpretation. Finally we have tried
to encourage research in the area of IT and charismatic leader’s rhetoric i.e. how information
technology affects the rhetorical behaviour of charismatic leaders. Investigations of these areas
will definitely help us comprehend the fascinating, “spellbinding” rhetoric skills of charismatic
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Full-text available
This article is an attempt to understand Charisma beginning from Weber’s original conception of the term to subsequent theories proposed by mainstream charismatic theorists. It explores all the major charismatic leadership theories proposed in last twenty years which has been the bedrock for hundreds of charismatic leadership research around the globe such as attribution theory, psychodynamic approach, self-theory and etc. Through this article we make an attempt to capture and integrate various explanations regarding the emergence and development of charismatic leaders so as to create a clear and nonconflicting model which will enrich the existing knowledge domain in the field of leadership in general and charismatic leadership in articular. This theoretical paper will help researchers to carry out more empirical research on charisma in order to explore more about charismatic leadership and its applications.
Full-text available
This experiment extends previous research by examining empirically the relationship of message delivery and content to perceptions of leader charisma. A 2 (delivery: weak and strong) × 2 (content: visionary and nonvisionary) design was used to examine how delivery and content affect perceptions of leader charisma. The results indicate that although both delivery and content play a role in the development of perceptions of charisma, the impact of delivery is stronger. The analyses also reveal that the attentive, relaxed, friendly, and dominant style variables are significant predictors of perceptions of leader charisma. The results of this experiment highlight the need to examine the role of communication in charismatic leadership.
Impression management, the process by which people control the impressions others form of them, plays an important role in interpersonal behavior. This article presents a 2-component model within which the literature regarding impression management is reviewed. This model conceptualizes impression management as being composed of 2 discrete processes. The 1st involves impression motivation-the degree to which people are motivated to control how others see them. Impression motivation is conceptualized as a function of 3 factors: the goal-relevance of the impressions one creates, the value of desired outcomes, and the discrepancy between current and desired images. The 2nd component involves impression construction. Five factors appear to determine the kinds of impressions people try to construct: the self-concept, desired and undesired identity images, role constraints, target's values, and current social image. The 2-component model provides coherence to the literature in the area, addresses controversial issues, and supplies a framework for future research regarding impression management.
In this new book, Jay A. Conger reveals how the charismatic leader's qualities of creativity, inspiration, unconventionality, vision, and risk-taking can help bring about radical change in organizations damaged by long periods of inertia - and shows why we need charismatic leadership now more than ever before. Drawing on findings from organizational behavior, sociology, social psychology, political science, and his own research - as well as on illustrations from the careers of Steve Jobs, Lee Iacocca, Mary Kay, John DeLorean, Ross Perot, and others - the author dispels the myths about charisma and identifies the specific practices that set charismatic leadership apart to help show how and why these individuals succeed where others may fail.