Competent leadership has long been recognized as an important cog in the innovation machine of teams and organizations. And persuasive empirical evidence links charismatic leaders with their abilities to recruit and develop key personnel as well as increase firm performance (Hansen, Miller, & Noack, 2020). But do charismatic leaders help promote innovation in organizations?
A freshly published study of teams in 133 bank branches identified the influence charismatic leaders had on the innovative behavior of team members (Le Blanc, et al., 2021). Results found charismatic leaders significantly increased both team potency and innovative behavior over teams with leaders lacking charisma. Further, the research found that charismatic leaders optimized their influence through their communication with team members, encouraging a positive team/organizational climate, and instilling a collective confidence in the team’s efforts toward accomplishing tasks and goals.
Who are charismatic leaders and what do they do to get these results? The power of charismatic leaders comes from their ability to transform the needs, values, and aspirations of their followers from self-interests into a compelling set of collective interests. They demonstrate achievement orientation, propensity for risk-taking, self-confidence, trust and confidence in followers, social sensitivity, and their need for power and control.
Charismatic leaders declare their expectations for followers self-sacrifice and performance beyond the call of duty. They thus provide followers with a meaningful work environment by bringing in a heightened, almost “romantic,” sense of purpose that would not otherwise exist within the organization. This unique presence has a significant influence on others and makes charismatic leaders often appear “larger than life” (Lepine, et al., 2016).
Hansen, S. D., Miller, D. R., & Noack, D. (2020). The Impact of Charismatic Leadership on Recruitment, Development and Firm Performance. Journal of Managerial Issues, 32(2), 215–229.
Le Blanc, P. M., González-Romá, V., & Wang, H. (2021). Charismatic Leadership and Work Team Innovative Behavior: the Role of Team Task Interdependence and Team Potency. Journal of Business & Psychology, 36(2), 333–346.
Lepine, M. A., Yiwen Zhang, Crawford, E. R., & Rich, B. L. (2016). Turning Their Pain to Gain: Charismatic Leader Influence on Follower Stress Appraisal and Job Performance. Academy of Management Journal, 59(3), 1036–1059.