What a fun question! I have found a plethora of information for you!
There is so much information available on this topic that the tricky
part is narrowing things down and since I tend to be way more verbose
than brief, I?m including a bunch of extra information for you?it?s
all too good to narrow down! And this way, you can choose to use
whatever information best suits you and your needs from a greater
selection of data. Okay, here we go!
You?ve mentioned, in your question, that charisma is difficult to
define. To help you and add to the answer you seek, I?ve found some
great quotes and resources that seek to define and explain charisma.
Let?s start with simply defining the word charisma.
From Answers.com, we learn that charisma is ?a rare personal quality
attributed to leaders who arouse fervent popular devotion and
enthusiasm.? It goes on to define it as ?Personal magnetism or charm.?
The thesaurus section of Answers.com goes on to give some synonyms for charisma:
?The power or quality of attracting: allure, allurement, appeal,
attraction, attractiveness, call, charm, draw, enchantment,
enticement, fascination, glamour, lure, magnetism, witchery. Informal
pull. See like/dislike.?
On Wikipedia.org, we learn the following:
?The word charisma (from the Greek word ??????? (kharisma), "gift" or
"divine favor," from kharizesthai, "to favor," from kharis, "favor")
refers to a rare trait found in certain human personalities usually
including extreme charm and a "magnetic" quality of personality and/or
appearance along with innate and powerfully sophisticated personal
communicability and persuasiveness; in short, charisma is often used
to describe a seemingly uncanny ability to charm or influence people.
It refers especially to a quality in certain people who easily draw
the attention and admiration (or even hatred if the charisma is
negative) of others due to a "magnetic" quality of personality and/or
appearance. Though the term as it stands is extremely difficult to
define, other similar terms/phrases related to charisma include:
grace, exuberance, equanimity, mystique, positive energy, joie de
vivre, extreme charm, personal magnetism, personal appeal,
"electricity," and allure, among many others . Another term
constantly used is the "X-factor." Usually many of these qualities
must be present within a single individual for the person to be
considered highly charismatic by the public and their peers.
Despite the strong emotions they so often induce in others,
charismatic individuals generally project unusual calmness,
confidence, assertiveness, dominance, authenticity, and focus, and
almost always possess superb communication and/or oratorical skills.
To the early Greeks, charisma was said to be "a divine favor/gift" or
"gift of grace," implying that this "divine quality" was an inborn
trait; today however, many believe it can be taught and/or learned
despite the persistent inability to accurately define or even fully
This site addresses what is charisma:
?Charisma (Charisma- a spiritual power or personal quality that gives
an individual influence or authority over large numbers of
people--Random House Unabridged Dictionary) is an elusive, personal
quality that involves not just the leader but also the follower's
perceptions. Hence we must examine the follower's reactions to
adequately identify the Charismatic Leader.
It is emotional in nature. Followers believe in the leader, his/her
values and goals, primarily on an emotional basis. Rationality takes a
Charismatic Leadership?the Good and the Bad
You?re right that many groups including religious, business, social,
and political groups are interested in charismatic leadership. Many
such groups have charismatic leaders at their helms.
?The study, recognition, and development of charisma in individuals is
of particular interest to sociologists/psychologists, popular (usually
national) politicians, public speakers, actors,
movie-stars/movie-producers, casting directors, pop-music stars,
trainers/coaches targeting the upper-echelons of the business
community (CEOs), and academics or others involved in leadership
studies or leadership development, among others.  In some cases
highly-extroverted and brutally controlling charismatic leaders have
used their personal charisma in extremely destructive and damaging
ways throughout human history, for example, Adolf Hitler and Jim
That same article goes on to say, ?Professor Richard Wiseman says that
a charismatic person has three attributes:
1. They feel emotions themselves quite strongly;
2. They induce them in others;
3. And they are impervious to the influences of other charismatic people.?
From the website Go Inside, here?s a quote from Go Inside Charismatic Leadership:
?Charisma refers to several qualities, meanings and significations.
Among these it is (a) a special type of authority generated by the
personal trust given to leaders by his followers, (b) the followers
accept the charismatic leader because he is believed to have
extraordinary qualities, and (c) those extraordinary qualities are not
inherent in the leader, but rather are a representation believed by
the followers to be held by the leader.?
Here are some interesting quotes concerning charismatic leadership and
how it can be good or bad from an article on the Northeastern College
of Business Administration website entitled ?Charismatic Leadership:
Do You Believe in Magic??
?* "A full moon blanks out all the stars around it." Ted Turner (also
known as Captain Outrageous) about himself
* "I care more about being a leader than being liked, especially when
I see someone with ability who isn't trying his hardest." Michael
* "A huge portion of what Netscape is worth is Jim Barksdale telling
investors it's going to work; he has this great ability to convey
confidence and give comfort."
* "Charisima [sic], to me is almost a phony thing. It's what those TV
evangelists have." Jim Barksdale?
More good quotes from that page include the following:
??Charisma is a tricky thing. Jack Kennedy oozed it-but so did Hitler
and Charles Manson. Con artists, charlatans, and megalomaniacs can
make it their instrument as effectively as the best CEO's
entertainers, and Presidents. Used wisely, it's a blessing; indulged,
it can be a curse. Charismatic visionaries lead people ahead-and
sometimes astray.? Fortune, January 15, 1996
?Charisma matters more than it used to; when you had
command-and-control environments, everyone knew his role and executed
his boss's program. Today, if you're able to galvanize people into
action, all the thinking, the analysis, the strategic prioritizing
doesn't matter at all.? Sears CEO Arthur Martinez.?
This particular article talks about how charisma can be good or bad
and references David Kouresh of the Branch Davidians, for example. It
then goes on to talk about how charisma is desirable in some
situations and doesn?t matter in others (like do you care if your
banker, for instance, is charismatic?). The article addresses the
question, ?What do charismatic leaders do? . . .
· Charismatic people have a remarkable ability to distill complex
ideas into simple messages ("I have a dream"); they communicate by
using symbols, analogies, metaphors and stories. Anyone can understand
· They relish risk and feel empty without it; they are great optimists
· They are rebels who fight convention; they may seem idiosyncratic?
The article proposes an interesting ?academic? look at what charismatic leaders do:
?There appear to be four stages in the development of charismatic leadership.
· Sensing opportunity and formulating a vision: these leaders seem to
sense their constitutents [sic] needs as well as see the deficiencies
of the existing sitaution [sic] and untapped opportunities. The
combination of these leads to an idealized vision of the future. These
visions at least in organizations seem to fall along one of four major
types: an innovative product or service; a contribution to society; a
transformation of the organization; or a contribution to the workforce
· Articulating the Vision: these leaders seem to have a great sense of
strategic vision and a capacity to convey the essence and viability of
that to a broad group of people
· Building Trust in the Vision: subordinates must desire and support
the goals of the leader and this is likely to be accomplished by more
than coercion; rather the leader builds trust in the leader and the
viaiblilty [sic] of the goals; this is likely to be done through
personal risk taking, unconventional expertise, and self-sacrifice
· Achieving the Vision: these leaders use personal example and role
modeling, reliance on unconventional tactics and their use of
empowerment practices to demonstrate how the vision can be achieved
and how motivation can be sustained?
The article mainly warns of the dangers of charisma and wraps up with
the line, ?The cost of following the wrong vision can be worse than
having no vision at all.?
I?ve found another article that addresses the ethics of charismatic
leadership. The article is very business and coaching focused with an
emphasis on organizational behavior and management. The article posted
on the site is excerpted from ?The ethics of charismatic leadership?
by Jane M. Howell and Bruce J. Avolio, Academy of Management
Executives, 1992, Vol. 6 No.2; and ?The Charismatic Leader as
Narcissist? by Daniel Sankowsky, Organizational Dynamics, Spring 1995,
Vol. 23, No. 4).
The article mentions 4 types of charismatic leaders:
?According to prevailing theories, followers regard the charismatic
leader as one or all of the following:
· An omnipotent archetype (leader as parent), whom they believe will
nurture and guide them.
· Mystical (in touch with "higher truths"), who knows the way and
knows the answers.
· Heroic (perhaps derived from past achievements), who can move mountains,
· Value-driven (concerned with the collective and able to empower it),
who is pure in spirit.?
The article links to another article that discusses charismatic
leaders with a story and some points found here:
Another page that addresses the ethics of charisma is found here with
examples of charismatic leaders:
?Charismatic Leadership is ethically neutral. Leaders may use it for
good or evil. For example, Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt and Hitler
were all Charismatic Leaders.?
Another page on that same site addresses what charismatic leaders do.
It says, in part, ?We've all seen them. Those electrifying few who
cast a spell, stay with us, and move us. They are the Charismatic
Leaders. In all fields and situations they have a common behavior
pattern. These people:
· Challenge The Status Quo
· Create A Compelling Vision
· Establish Shared Values
· Enable Others To Act
· Model The Way
· Encourage The Heart
Charismatic leaders do these things constantly in large and small
ways. Cumulatively, these actions change attitudes, responses and
methodologies within the organization.?
This site (Changingminds.org) addresses different leadership styles,
including, yep you guessed it, charismatic leadership.
?The Charismatic Leader gathers followers through dint of personality
and charm, rather than any form of external power or authority.?
That article also goes on to discuss assumptions, style (with good,
specific style examples), and further discussion about charismatic
This page on Charisma talks about various approaches. It explains that
charisma has been studied as a trait (Sociologist Max Weber being the
most famous name associated with that) and as a set of behaviors. They
also refer to a number of charismatic leaders, Gandhi, Winston
Churchill, Mother Teresa, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Steve Jobs among
This section of wikipedia is worth a look. It is about ?Charismatic
Authority.? It discusses more the ?extraordinary power? kind of
charisma often discussed with regard to religion and charismatic
spiritual and religious leaders. There is a lot of information
available about sociologist Max Weber, a man who has a lot to say
?The sociologist Max Weber defined charismatic authority as "resting
on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary
character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or
order revealed or ordained by him." Charismatic authority is one of
three forms of authority laid out in Weber's tripartite classification
of authority, the other two being traditional authority and
rational-legal authority. The concept has acquired wide usage among
sociologists. Similar terms include ?charismatic domination? or
List of Charismatic Leaders
The wikipedia site breaks down examples of charismatic leaders into
two main categories?politics and religion.
· Fidel Castro
· Winston Churchill
· Bill Clinton
· Mahatma Gandhi
· Adolf Hitler
· Saddam Hussein
· John F. Kennedy
· H? Chí Minh
· Martin Luther King, Jr.
· Ronald Reagan
· Lech Wa??sa
· Patrice Lumumba
In religions and new religious movements:
· Moses David Berg
· L. Ron Hubbard
· Jim Jones
· Sun Myung Moon
· A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
· Prem Rawat, known to his students as Maharaji.
· Rajneesh, also called Bhagwan and Osho.
· Charles Taze Russell
· Sathya Sai Baba
· Joseph Smith
· Werner Erhard?
Some Notable Recent Examples
Here is an article by Luis Vega in Go Inside Magazine that discusses
Hugo Chavez as a charismatic leader.
This is another recent example that?s been all over the news. Here is
a recent article about him:
Interesting Marketing of Charisma
This is just too interesting to not mention! Charisma is apparently a
pretty big deal. I?m amazed how many advertisements I?ve seen in my
research for different products and concepts all about charisma that
are marketed to the masses!
This is the website for Core-Edge, Image & Charisma Institute, Inc.
This page contains a list of FAQs all about Charisma.
They even offer online courses and seminars that teach you charisma!
Here is a self hypnosis CD that will ?boost your charisma:?
Herb Kelleher ? A Charismatic Leader
Okay, so far I've given you A LOT of background on charisma and
charismatic leaders as well as some other interesting things. You've
asked me to provide you with research material on a business leader
who is considered a charismatic leader. Herb Kelleher fits the
description and is a wonderful example of a well-respected,
charismatic business leader. Here is information on Herb Kelleher as
well as answers to your specific questions.
BACKGROUND AND BIO
There is a book entitled "Lessons from the Top: The 50 Most Successful
Business Leaders in America--and What You Can Learn From Them" by
Thomas J. Neff and James M. Citrin
In it, the authors describe effective leadership styles and then
discuss 50 different leaders and what in particular has made them good
business leaders. This book may be of interest to you. It looks like a
very interesting read! One of the leaders spoken of in the book is one
of the founders of Southwest Airlines, and former CEO, Herb Kelleher.
HAS THIS LEADER HAD AN IMPACT ON THE ORGANIZATION HE LEADS?
Herb Kelleher, along with Texas businessman Rollin King, is one of the
original founders of the highly successful, "no frills" Southwest
Airlines. Over the years, Southwest Airlines has become one of the
major players in the airlines industry, often setting the benchmark
for customer satisfaction. Here is an article from PBS.com that gives
an overview of Kelleher's professional life, outlining some of the
successes he has experienced with Southwest Airlines.
Herb Kelleher is known for his charismatic, personable,
non-traditional, and successful leadership style. In 1997, Kelleher
wrote an article entitled ?A Culture of Commitment? outlining his
successful leadership style. This article so perfectly describes his
leadership philosophies and style, that I am giving you a bulleted
list of important highlights, along with appropriate quotations. Be
sure to read the entire article.
*Personality counts as much as quality and reliability.
*Delegate and relinquish total control.
?A financial analyst once asked me if I was afraid of losing control
of our organization. I told him I've never had control and I never
wanted it. If you create an environment where the people truly
participate, you don't need control. They know what needs to be done,
and they do it. And the more that people will devote themselves to
your cause on a voluntary basis, a willing basis, the fewer hierarchs
and control mechanisms you need.?
* The best leaders serve their employees.
* Define who you are and what you want rather than predict what you will do
* Change your practices, not your principles.
* Share the company?s business with the company.
* Don?t let people get preoccupied with titles and offices.
* Go to meetings to learn and see if you can help, not to issue orders.
* Systems are in place to help you carry out your mission; they are
not the masters.
* ?Nothing comes ahead of your people.?
* ?If you take an ongoing, genuine interest in the well-being of your
people, outside as well as inside the workplace, you eventually create
* Help your employees see the ?big picture.?
?The important thing is to take the bricklayer and make him understand
that he's building a home, not just laying bricks. So we take the
building a home approach: This is what you're doing not only for
yourself but for society: giving people who'd otherwise not be able to
travel the opportunity to do so; making it possible for grandparents
to see their grandchildren for holidays, or for a working mom to take
her son to see the World Series -- for less than the cost of a ticket
to the game. We constantly hold up examples of customer experiences
and of employee efforts to make a difference.?
* Build bridges between people, especially in ?times of crisis.?
?Some years ago, for instance, one of our employee groups, in effect,
voted itself out of its union. Many of the rank and file were feeling
insecure about their future, so we gave them a personal contract
signed by me. It provided for a grievance procedure, arbitration
procedure, and so on. Several labor lawyers and professors called me
and asked if that was legal. (I thought it was their job to tell me.)
But they missed the point. Our agreement with those employees was a
matter of good faith; it didn't need to be legally enforceable. We
didn't set up an iota of the structure that the experts recommended,
and a year later we had no grievances pending. They were all handled
informally, by people with good will getting together and talking to
There are many more great quotations in the article found here:
HAS THIS LEADER CHANGED THE ORGANIZATION FROM A FAILURE TO A SUCCESS?
Herb Kelleher transformed a small, regional Texas airline into a
hugely successful, leading, national airline. Southwest airlines is
currently celebrating their 35th anniversary and their website
recounts a year-by-year history to commemorate the occasion.
The website introduces the commemoration, stating, "We took a great
idea and made it fly. Read on to find out more about this little
upstart three-jet airline and how it got off the ground to become one
of America's largest and best-loved commercial airlines in history."
This quote comes from a 3-part interview in BusinessWeek in which
Kelleher describes his beginnings and how he turned an underdog into a
major player in the airline industry.
"In a rollicking session, Kelleher displayed the passion, irreverence,
and can-do attitude that has characterized the rise of Southwest from
long shot to long-term success in a business that's notorious for its
financial turmoil. The airline has grown from serving three cities and
with three Boeing 737s in 1971 to 35,000 employees and 375 Boeing 737s
that cater to 63 million customers at 59 airports in 30 states as of
the end of 2002."
"Rollin King and Herb Kelleher co-founded Air Southwest Company in
1967 as an interstate airline, linking Dallas, Houston, and San
Antonio. By all standards of measurement, its origin was humble and
its prospects were dim (if not grim). It was a classic start-up. In
recent years, however, Southwest has been consistently ranked among
the 'most highly respected' as well as the most profitable of
"The Southwest story is now a business legend: how the airline began
in 1966 with 195 employees and three planes that flew from Dallas's
Love Field to Houston and San Antonio; how Kelleher and cofounder
Rollin King drew up the business plan on a cocktail napkin; how its
profit-sharing plan has made many longtime employees millionaires; how
the company has grown to 29,000 employees with a fleet of 332 Boeing
737 planes (290 more are on order) and become a national carrier
competing with United, American, and Delta."
HAVE THEY WISELY AND ETHICALLY USED CHARISMA THAT CAN ACTUALLY LIFT AN
ENTIRE ORGANIZATION'S PERFORMANCE?
This next quote comes from the Executive Summary of an article from
the Journal of Leadership Studies ("Flying High with Herb Kelleher: A
Profile in Charismatic Leadership." Journal article by Charles W.
Blackwell, Jane Whitney Gibson; Journal of Leadership Studies, 1999).
It includes information about how the entire organization has
internalized the charismatic qualities of its leader in order to
become one of the most successful airlines in the U.S.
"Herb Kelleher, co-founder, CEO, President and Chairman of Southwest
Airlines is cited in this article as an ideal example of charismatic
leadership at its best. A discussion of charismatic leadership focuses
on traits and behaviors of charismatic leaders. This model is then
used to examine Kelleher's traits and behaviors at Southwest Airlines,
named in 1998 as the best place to work in America by Fortune
Magazine. Kelleher's vision and style are seen as the driving forces
of this maverick airline which has consistently posted a profit for 26
consecutive years and does things differently than any other company
in the industry. The key to Southwest's success is largely thought to
be the warmth and determination of its employees who mirror those same
qualities in their leader. The article includes Kelleher's thoughts on
leadership and concludes that there is reason to question whether the
strong, personality-driven Southwest culture can survive after
Kelleher retires from the helm."
This excerpt from a 2001 Forbes article illustrates how Kelleher's
charismatic attitude has helped to elevate the performance of the
"Southwest would be nothing without Herb Kelleher. Energetic and
plain-talking, he has made this no-frills airline the most profitable
in the skies. And it's thanks to his commitment to customer service
and efficiency that Southwest has been able to sustain annual earnings
growth of nearly 30% for the last five years. What's more, Southwest's
share price has doubled in the past year (that of Continental, the
runner-up on the A-List, grew 9% over the same period).
'I tell my employees that we're in the service business, and it's
incidental that we fly airplanes,' says Kelleher. 'We treat our
passengers well.' Sounds obvious, but in this era of widespread
passenger discontent and chronic delays, it appears that Kelleher has
hit on something.
In 2000 Southwest had the fewest customer complaints of any major U.S.
airline. And it has had the highest percentage of on-time arrivals
since the U.S. Department of Transportation began its database in
"Herb believes that just as the attitude of the entrepreneur effects
the early success of the venture, the same attitude needs to be
present in the firms' employees to continue the entrepreneurial energy
that creates competitive advantage in the operation of the business
even after it has become a large successful company. In doing this
Herb's Southwest Air has shown itself to be one of the rare companies
that has succeeded on translating the entrepreneurial spirit of its
initial small company success into an effective form of on-going
corporate entrepreneurship that still invigorates it today.
Southwest Air has consequently applied this emphasis in hiring people
with the right entrepreneurial attitude. Herb sums up his view on this
subject with the simple maxim: 'You hire attitude, everything else can
IS THERE A DOWNSIDE TO CHARISMATIC LEADERSHIP?
As referenced several times earlier in my answer, there certainly can
be a downside to charismatic leadership (reference Hitler, David
Kouresh, and the ethics of charismatic leadership, etc. and see ?the
good and the bad? section of the answer) when it is used unethically.
Thankfully, that is not at all the case with Herb Kelleher, who is, as
mentioned throughout my research, widely respected and revered as a
great and successful and ethical charismatic leader.
You?ve asked for 8 or more references from a variety of sources. Here
are 14 more resources, in addition to the many websites I?ve already
listed for you in my answer, to which you can refer for reference and
further information. I have included resources on charisma and
charismatic leaders in general and on Herb Kelleher specifically.
Weber, Maximillan. Theory of Social and Economic Organization.
Chapter: "The Nature of Charismatic Authority and its Routinization"
translated by A. R. Anderson and Talcot Parsons, 1947. Originally
published in 1922 in German under the title Wirtschaft und
Gesellschaft chapter III, § 10
Hengel, Martin & Riche, John, The Charismatic Leader and His
Followers, (1996), T&T Clark Publishers, ISBN 0-567-29165-0
Musser, S.J. (1987). The determination of positive and negative
charismatic leadership, Grantham: PA: Messiah College
Conger, J. A., and R. N. Kanungo (Eds), Charismatic Leadership in
Organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1998
Vries, R.E. de; Roe, R.A.; Taillieu, T.C.B. On charisma and need for
?The ethics of charismatic leadership? by Jane M. Howell and Bruce J.
Avolio, Academy of Management Executives, 1992, Vol. 6 No.2
?The Charismatic Leader as Narcissist? by Daniel Sankowsky,
Organizational Dynamics, Spring 1995, Vol. 23, No. 4.
Neff, Thomas J. and Citrin, James M. ?Lessons from the Top: The 50
Most Successful Business Leaders in America--and What You Can Learn
From Them?, New York, NY: Doubleday, 1999
Cohan, Peter S. Value Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 2003.
(This books mentions Southwest Airlines as an example of ethical
hiring and the impact such value-based employment has on the
corporation in general.)
Gittell, Jody. The Southwest Airlines Way: Using the Power of
Relationships to Achieve High Performance. McGraw-Hill Trade. December
19, 2002. (Southwest Airlines' success is said to be rooted in
relationships based upon shared knowledge, goals, and respect among
Harris Ph.D., Jim. Getting Employees to Fall in Love with Your
Company. New York: AMACON, 1996. (Herb Kelleher is mentioned as an
example of a charismatic leader that promotes employee loyalty and
Brooker, Katrina. "Can Anyone Replace Herb?" FORTUNE. April 17, 2000.
(Available at http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2000/04/17/278112/index.htm)
Kelleher, Herb. "A Culture of Commitment." Leader to Leader. No.4,
Spring 1997. (Available at
There are many more books and newspaper and magazine articles listed
on the Southwest Airlines website:
Phew! That?s a lot of information. I?ve been working on this so much
and so long that the word ?charisma? is starting to look really
strange to me! I hope that you find this information and research to
be useful! If you have any need of further clarification, please let
me know how I can help.
Search Terms Used:
Charismatic leaders examples
Profile charismatic leader
Success Southwest Kelleher