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Many Leaders Dubbed As Charismatic Are Not Really Transformational, Here's Why

Transformational leaders are often charismatic individuals, “but are not as narcissistic as pure Charismatic Leaders, who succeed through a belief in themselves rather than a belief in others,” according to It is taken for granted that charismatic leaders are transformational, but nothing can be further from the truth. Although all transformational leaders have some form of charisma, not all these leaders use their gifts for noble intentions.

Traditionally, a transformational leader has been synonymous with a charismatic leader, according to the Bailey Group. After all, it’s that charisma that served as the see/touch/feel of an outstanding leader. The kind of man or woman who excited his or her followers with passion, ambition, and exuberance. That ability to work a crowd into a froth by articulating such an exciting vision of the future that there is no question as to whether it made sense or was strategically sound. The truth is, many leaders dubbed as charismatic are not really transformational at all.

According to Gibson et al., charismatic leadership is described as the ability to influence others based on a supernatural gift and attractive powers. They have a charismatic effect on their followers to an unusually high degree, and these followers perceive the leader’s beliefs as correct and accept him or her without questions.

Transformational leaders, on the other hand, is a style of leadership in which the leader identifies the needed change, creates a vision to guide the change through inspiration, and executes the change with the commitment of the members of the group. Transformational leaders balance charisma with collaboration, confidence with virtue, and influence with transparency. With this approach, the leader identifies a collective vision that a group can recognize with and get excited about. Ideas take precedence, rather than the leader themselves. According to Air Force Colonel Mark Homrig, transformational leadership can be a sharp double-edged sword. Pseudo-transformational leadership “has a potential immoral and unethical dimension that could be exploited by an unscrupulous leader inflicted on naive and unsuspecting followers.”

According to Homrig, Hitler appealed to the values of the German people, was charismatic, offered a transcendent vision, and frequently encouraged his followers. However, his goal led to ruin rather than the betterment of his followers. Another example of negative transforma