The form of leadership that people exercise in various positions has always been the focus of research in management. It is determined by a number of factors. However, some leaders have performed so well than others even if the environment they are working in is similar. Such leaders are described as being charismatic. This paper discusses several issues that are related to charismatic leadership like whether charismatic leadership should be the sage on stage or guide on the side are perceived by some scholars. The discussion also focuses on the concept of meaning-making and sense-making and highlights the differences in these concepts. The paper presents a discussion on whether charisma is an individual’s or group’s initiative.
Should Charismatic Leadership be Sage on Stage or the Guide on the Side?
Charismatic leaders are people who have made tremendous achievements in their leadership roles holistically in the sense that they are willing to listen to people’s opinions as well as give guidance where needed. For one to manage to achieve charismatic leadership, several factors come into play including personal qualities of the leaders such as ability to; influence, motivate, inspire, and communicate effectively to the followers. The followers also need to align their needs and aspirations and identify with the leader. However, the situation and the environment in which the leader and the followers are acting also determine if charisma will be attained or not. This therefore means that charisma is not only a sage business but an all inclusive activity involving all the stakeholders (Musser, 1987, p. 56). However, charismatic qualities of a leader must be revealed through better communication to the followers and the ability to gain the trust of the followers, be able to influence and inspire them and also persuade them to follow his opinions and views. However, charisma is different from transformational leadership in the sense that as much as the charismatic leader may want to influence people and motivate them to do more, it is not always that they initiate changes and transformations that moves the organization from one form to the other. In other words, it can be argued that a charismatic leader is a guide that acts from the side seeking to motivate and inspire people without necessarily forcing them to change. Charisma thus requires that the followers act out of their willingness to follow whatever the leader is communicating to them. It is achieved through persuasion and inspiration rather than coercion and intimidation. Communication is a key concept in achieving charisma because effective communication makes followers to automatically agree to the opinion and views of their leader without questioning. Nevertheless, the charismatic leader must also be able to take initiatives to inspire and influence followers instead of sitting on the bench and waiting for them to act after he has communicated to them.
In this perspective, it is agreeable that charisma need to be contagious in the society, in the sense that a charismatic leader is able to inspire and influence others to follow in his footsteps. It is almost impossible to claim charisma if one is not able to build and inspire others to have the same or even greater qualities of a charismatic leader. Characteristically, a charismatic leader is able to make other people from his followers to adapt and have the same views as his and develop a network of leaders who share the same views and inspiration. The charisma leadership should be passed down from one generation to the other in a contagious format so that those who come of him can identify themselves with the principles that the charismatic leader held dearly. (Conger, Kanungo & Menon, 2000, p. 755). This is the same concept that Meindl (1990, p. 180) asserted in his argument. According to him, charisma is no more than a social contagion so that the leader is able to pass personality skills and knowledge together with inspirations and beliefs down to his followers and in the end be able to influence the whole society in which they live
What are the major Substantive Differences between Meaning-making and Sense-making?
Meaning-making construct is a practice that can be deduced by anyone and does not require any special skills to be implemented. For instance, if someone got to hear something in their organization or society, they can deduce meaning from the concept depending on their level of understanding and interpretation. Sense-making on the other hand is a process that uses the actual experiences that people have had in their encounters. Unlike in meaning-making, sense-making requires one to use the experiences of the past to deduce meaning (Conger, Kanungo & Menon, 2000, p. 760). The process involves the activities of identifying, retrospecting—that is, carrying out an inward search, and acting depending on the situation at hand. The process also takes place in a social setup making it different from meaning making which could be done individually. The other element is that sense-making tends to depend on the plausibility of the experience rather than the accuracy. Meaning-making on the other hand depends much on the accuracy of the information presented. Sense-making is more associated with charismatic leadership than meaning-making because of the processes that are used in sense-making (Raelin, 2010, p. 20).
Does charisma come from the individual or from the group?
I believe that charisma is a collective activity that requires the leader and the group to act together in order to achieve the intended objectives. The followers must be willing to follow and trust their leader if that leader is to exercise charismatic leadership. I strongly believe that charismatic leadership is a collective effort of the group and not an individual activity.