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Shamir, House, & Arthur
Self-Concept Theory of Charismatic Leadership
Bass Burns House
Shamir, House, & Arthur introduced the self-concept theory in 1993. This theory extends House’s concept of charismatic leadership by further describing the influence process on a group of followers as well as in the dyadic relationship described by House.
Bass operationalized Burns’ concept of transforming leadership and introduced it in his 1985 book “Leadership Beyond Expectations”
James MacGregor Burns published a book entitled simply “Leadership” in 1978. This seminal work has influenced much of the research and writing on leadership since it’s publication. Burns’ own focus was on political leadership.
• • • Leaders are able to motivate subordinates to performance levels that exceed both their own and their leader’s expectations Charisma is a separate component and defined in terms of both the leader’s behavior and the follower’s reactions Charisma arouses strong emotions and identification with the leader, but not sufficient to account for transformational process alone
• • Charisma is defined by how the leader influences the follower, regardless of follower attribution “Charismatic leaders tie self-concepts of followers to the goals and collective experiences associated with their missions so that they become valued aspects of the followers’ self-concept.” (Conger, 1999) Key behaviors of charismatic leaders: 1. Articulating an appealing vision 2. Emphasizing ideological aspects of the work 3. Communicating high performance expectations 4. Expressing confidence that subordinates can attain them 5. Showing self-confidence 6. Modeling exemplary behavior 7. Emphasizing collective identity
House originally published his theory in an article entitled “A 1976 Theory of Charismatic Leadership.”
• Leadership defined: “I define leadership as leaders inducing followers to act for certain goals that represent the values and the motivations . . . of both leaders and followers. And the genius of leadership lies in the manner in which leaders see and act on their own and their followers’ values and motivations.” Described the term charisma as “so overburdened as to collapse under close analysis” Used the term “heroic leadership” instead, defined as “belief in leaders because of their personage alone”
• • Outlined certain leader behaviors associated with charismatic leadership, and some personal traits and situational variables His original theory was very dyadic - it focused on the relationship between the leader and a single follower • •
Bass and his colleagues (particularly Avolio) have researched transformational leadership extensively, including developing an instrument (MLQ) to measure leader and follower perceptions of the leader. Charisma was originally a subscale on this measure but has since been subsumed under “inspirational motivation”
(Avolio, Bass, & Jung, 1999; Bass, 1985; Conger & Kanungo, 1998)
While House’s original theory was fairly rudimentary in comparison to current theories, it provided a starting point for much of the current work on charismatic leadership. It is still referenced in much of the research being published today.
(Conger & Kanungo, 1998, House, 1977)
Burns’ writing on leadership was operationalized by Bass and adapted into transformational leadership. A great deal of empirical research has come forth from Bass’ work.
(Burns, 1978; Conger & Kanungo, 1998)
Shamir, House and their colleagues have continued this line of research in a variety of organizations including businesses and the military. Their current line of inquiry is focused on how this theory applies internationally.
(Conger, 1999; Shamir, House, & Arthur, 1993; Yukl, 1999)
Sociological and Psychological
Conger & Kanungo
Weber, a German sociologist, was the first theorist to take the religious term “charisma” and apply it in a social science context. His concept of charisma stressed the extraordinary and mystical
Conger and Kanungo first introduced their behavioral theory of charismatic leadership in 1987. They have continued to research and write on charismatic leadership, culminating in a book describing their theory in 1998.
• • • Charisma explains leadership’s role in radical social change, and how that change is institutionalized Did not state specifically if charisma was inherent to the individual or depended on attribution by followers Five things must occur together for charismatic authority to emerge: 1. An extraordinarily gifted person 2. A social crisis or situation of desperation 3. A set of ideas providing a radical solution to the crisis 4. A set of followers who are attracted to the exceptional person and come to believe that he or she is directly linked to transcendent powers 5. The validation of that person’s extraordinary gifts and transcendence by repeated successes
Beyer has not introduced a particular theory, but rather argues for a return to Weber’s original concept of charisma.
• • Charismatic leadership is based on behavior, but also relies on attribution by followers for the leader to be considered charismatic Three Stages: 1. Environmental analysis 2. Future vision 3. Achieving the vision Five Behavioral Dimensions: 1. Sensitivity to environmental context 2. Strategic vision and articulation 3. Sensitivity to member needs 4. Personal risk 5. Unconventional behavior
• • • • • New leadership theories have “tamed the original conception of charisma advanced by Weber and, in the process, diluted its richness and distinctiveness.” “Charisma is a social structure that emerges from complex interactions of multiple factors that cannot be separated neatly into causes, moderators, and effects” Real charisma is rare, and values-free Argues many theorists have tried to make rational a theory which was never intended to be rational Crisis or a turbulent environment is not a moderating variable as treated in other theories, but rather a prime causal factor in the emergence of charisma
Virtually all research and writing on charismatic leadership can be traced back in some way to Weber. How closely various theorists and researchers stick to Weber’s original theory is a matter of some debate.
(Beyer & Browning, 1999; Burns, 1978; Conger, 1993; Trice & Beyer, 1993; Weber, 1947)
Beyer and her colleagues have published several qualitative studies considering charisma from a sociological perspective. Beyer has also written several articles encouraging other researchers to extend their psychological perspective to include organizational factors as well as the relationship between followers and the leader.
(Beyer, 1999, Beyer & Browning, 1999; Trice & Beyer, 1993)
Conger (1999) argues the theories are converging and share the following components: 1. vision 2. inspiration 3. role modeling 4. intellectual stimulation 5. meaning-making 6. appeals to higher order needs 7. empowerment 8. setting of high expectations 9. fostering collective identity
This theory is the one most utilized in current research on charismatic leadership. A variety of researchers have utilized the instrument developed by Conger and Kanungo to measure charismatic leadership.
(Conger & Kanungo, 1987, 1998)
Issues for Further Research
Most of these theories have their origins in political leadership, which is inherently distant from followers. However, much of the application of these theories are to close, organizational leaders. A few researchers have started examining what the differences are in how charismatic leadership works for close and distant leaders.
(Shamir, 1995; Yagil, 1998)
Follower characteristics have not been explored very fully, particularly how they relate to leader characteristics, influence processes, and contextual variables. Conger and Kanungo describe two theories of why followers are influenced by charismatic leaders: they are either filling a psychological need or have a more constructive identification with the leader and his or her mission.
(Conger & Kanungo, 1998; Yukl, 1999)
Most theorists have considered charisma from a psychological perspective, thereby putting contextual influences to the side. In particular most researchers consider crisis as conducive to the emergence of charisma but not essential. Beyer and others argue that these contextual influences are central to the theory and must be considered more fully.
(Beyer, 1999; Conger & Kanungo, 1998)
Carol A. McBryde Oklahoma State University