Differences and Similarities between Charismatic and Transformational Leadership

Term Paper, 2013

13 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Leadership in general

3. Charismatic Leadership

4. Transformational Leadership
4.1 Characteristics
4.2 Components

5. Differences between Charismatic and Transformational Leadership
5.1 Role of the Leader
5.2 Effects on the Followers

6. Similarities between Charismatic and Transformational Leadership

7. Résumé


1. Introduction

Especially in crises, companies need leaders to help them asserting themselves on the markets and getting them through difficult times. However, not every leader always comes to a satisfying result, since there might be a mismatch between the company’s situation and the attitudes and practices of its leader. As a result, the style of leadership plays a decisive role concerning a company’s achievements in the majority of cases.

Since the style of leadership might be the critical factor when it comes to the success of a business, scientists have analyzed several leadership styles, which all have different characteristics and therewith also varying effects on the respective companies. Two of the most common styles are the charismatic and the transformational leadership. As their names already indicate, each of these styles has its own characteristic features that affect the surroundings in a variety of ways. But as different as these two leadership styles might seem, they also have similarities based in their principles and attitudes. Since the opinions among scientists partly seem to be divided concerning the resemblance of the two styles on the one hand and the diversity on the other hand, this paper consequently deals with the task to expose the differences and similarities between charismatic and transformational leadership.

First, in Chapter 2 Leadership in general a short definition of leadership in general is given, for describing the universal understanding of leadership and its components. For being able to highlight the corresponding differences and similarities between the two special leadership styles that have to be examined, Chapter 3 Charismatic Leadership and Chapter 4 Transformational Leadership analyze the characteristics as well as the components of charismatic and transformational leadership in order to get a better understanding of their basic attributes. The following Chapter 5 Differences between Charismatic and Transformational Leadership shows the main distinctions between these two leadership styles, based on the perceptions of the previous chapters. Chapter 6 Similarities between Charismatic and Transformational Leadership underlines on the other side the general similarities and parallels between the two. Chapter 7 Résumé finally summarizes the results and concludes the paper.

2. Leadership in general

Leadership is a controversial subject, since there exists a large number of definitions for it. Still, there are some components typically characterizing leadership and therewith coining the universal term as follows.

Leadership in general can shortly be defined as “a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal”[1]. Hence, distinctive of general leadership is the fact that it is a process involving influence, which means that a leader guides and therewith influences its followers in an interactive process[2]. Another important feature is that leadership appears in a group of people that pursues a common goal, so that the group cooperates in the best case[3].

Since these factors defining leadership can be interpreted differently, various styles of leadership developed out of this original term. Two of these leadership styles, which are admittedly grounded on the aforementioned components of general leadership but evolved different ways of proceeding concerning their leadership intentions, are the charismatic and the transformational leadership.

3. Charismatic Leadership

Charismatic leadership bases on the term charisma, which indicates that a person is dominant, has the ability to influence people and consequently has a great symbolic power for them[4]. The charismatic leader represents the central person in the whole leadership model and attracts people, who believe in the vision of his new regime and who can relate to him[5]. He mostly is a dominant, self-confident person with strong ethical values, whereby many people consider him as a role model for their own behavior and decisions[6]. Therefore, followers of this kind of leadership mostly assume a charismatic leader to have exceptional skills or even talents, which turn him into something special[7]. Due to their charisma, these leaders tend to take risks and are considered to be creative persons as well[8].

Usually, charismatic leaders emerge in times of instability, turmoil or crises, when people are hopeless and do not know what else to do in order to improve their situation[9]. In the course of his charismatic leadership, firm goals are articulated, which are mostly associated with high expectations toward the followers and the achievement of these goals[10]. Based on the charismatic leader’s personality, followers accept the direction defined by him and believe in his abilities of being able to lead them out of their emergency situation[11]. Consequently, charismatic leaders are seen as the salvation for all problems in a company, which is why followers are very loyal to them[12] and trust in their ideology[13].

All in all, charismatic leadership is characterized by a leader with a strong personality, which embodies the center of the whole leadership process. The personalities of the followers are pushed into the background, while the leader is accepted as the only decision maker. He enjoys the follower’s obedience and trust at the same time, since they conceive affection for him. Besides this authoritarian style of leadership, there are still further forms of leadership such as the transformational type, which will be presented in the following chapter.

4. Transformational Leadership

4.1 Characteristics

What is characteristic for a transformational leader is the fact that his contents are typically of an optimistic kind; he therewith radiates an optimistic mood in the company[14]. Moreover, this type of leader is a person who trusts in the goals of the organization and supports them whenever he has the opportunity to do so[15].

When it comes to the relationship between the transformational leader and his followers, it is important to note that the followers and colleagues are involved in the whole transformational process[16]. This includes that the leader and his followers work together and thereby motivate each other and get a sense of higher purpose[17], which can be of great advantage for the company, as they start changing their order of professional priorities up to being concerned for the well-being of the company[18]. By being involved in the transformational process, the followers are treated as equal persons, not only as subordinated individuals[19] and are engaged with moral leadership, not with power[20].


[1] Northouse, p. 5

[2] ibid.

[3] ibid., p. 5/6

[4] cf. Barbuto, p. 28

[5] cf. Sieber, p. 34

[6] cf. Northouse, p. 188

[7] ibid.

[8] cf. Bass, Riggio, p. 170

[9] ibid., p. 64

[10] cf. Northouse, p. 188

[11] cf. Bass, Riggio, p. 64

[12] ibid.

[13] cf. Northouse, p. 188

[14] cf. Bass B., Bass R., p. 619

[15] cf. Barbuto, p. 31

[16] cf. Bass, Riggio, p. 5

[17] cf. Hava, Kwok-bun, p. 5

[18] cf. Bass B., Bass R., p. 619

[19] cf. Hava, Kwok-bun, p. 5

[20] cf. Bass B., Bass R., p. 619

Excerpt out of 13 pages


Differences and Similarities between Charismatic and Transformational Leadership
AKAD University of Applied Sciences Leipzig
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
537 KB
differences, similarities, charismatic, transformational, leadership
Quote paper
Franziska Schüppel (Author), 2013, Differences and Similarities between Charismatic and Transformational Leadership, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/269344


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Differences and Similarities between Charismatic and Transformational Leadership

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free