The Dark Side of Charisma: When Charismatic Leaders Go Wrong and How to Avoid It

Harnessing your leadership charisma has a number of benefits, but there are also some potential drawbacks that you should be aware of.

There is no doubt that being a charismatic leader brings positive results, especially when gaining support from your team members.

But when does it disadvantage you, your team, or your business?

Let’s start with the first one.

  1. Relying too much or completely on the leader

Sometimes employees or team members might associate the success of the team solely with the talent of their leader. Of course, this is not the case because everyone has their own role to play in achieving a common goal.

  1. Charisma can affect a person’s view of things

They could be overconfident and develop confirmation bias. 

Confirmation bias refers to the tendency to seek out information based on how it conforms to their beliefs.

This could result in charismatic leaders not making sound decisions and only gravitating toward the people who agree with them. 

  1. Charisma can develop a sense of dependence

Leaders might get attached to or addicted to getting approval from their people. 

They could be stuck in their delusions that their decisions were for the good, even if their followers have already woken up to reality. 

Some war leaders, such as Saddam Hussein, are examples of these.

  1. Self-serving motivations

Charismatic individuals may have the tendency to focus on self-interest and possible short-term thinking. They could eventually lose sight of the needs of their people.

  1. Absence of clarity

When charismatic leaders become too focused and attached to their own beliefs and ideas, they may lose clarity or become irrational in their decisions. 

  1. Potential lack of successors

Once they become too full of themselves, charismatic leaders might end up only believing in themselves and failing to have someone else take over when they leave the position. 

When that happens, it restricts a company’s growth as ideas from staff members could be disregarded.

What To Do To Avoid Drawbacks as a Charismatic Leader

  1. Remain open to ideas

Actively seek out different opinions, including those that disagree with your ideas.

  1. Conduct a self-check if you’re exhibiting confirmation bias

Think back on what ideas you’ve mostly agreed with and moved forward with. 

Were they all decided based on your judgment, or did you consider different points of view along the way?

  1. Don’t get caught up in the moment

Our emotions can play a huge part in our decision-making as charismatic leaders, and they're useful in appealing to the people we lead. 

If you’re under pressure, step back and look at things in a different light before making a final decision.

  1. Stay grounded in reality

Find someone who can stay objective and keep you on your toes. Always aim to have a clear understanding of the challenges and opportunities that your business is facing. This will help you avoid making false promises or unrealistic goals.

  1. Cultivate a strong and diverse team

Stay transparent and encourage the people you lead to assert their ideas to help achieve the long-term goal. This way, you can ensure your team is also learning and not merely agreeing with whatever you suggest.

Being charismatic as a leader or individual can be a great advantage, but at the same time, there’s a downside that can be detrimental to your business or to your team. It can cause blind loyalty or abuse of power. So, take note of these things to avoid so you can take your business to the next level.

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Further Reading