Are charismatic leaders transformational?

Yes, ladies and gents, it’s another installment of Words Mean Things! On today’s show, we’ll be talking about the differences between charismatic leaders and transformational leaders, because let me assure you — they’re different.

The two terms — charismatic leadership and transformational leadership — are used interchangeably an awful lot, and there are certainly some similarities and overlap; but again, there are some differences.

Charismatic Leadership

The basic idea with charisma is that it’s attributed to leaders by followers who perceive those leaders to posses qualities or traits that are exceptional or extraordinary in some way. Perhaps they’re visionaries or something. Whatever it is, people are drawn to it. Those leaders are…well…charismatic.

There are three or four theories on charisma and how it works, but the short version is this. They usually do some combination of the following:

  • Appeal to a big vision or idea
  • Use really strong and/or expressive forms and methods of communicating that vision or idea
  • Take risks to make progress toward that idea
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