Results. When a charismatic leader is able to communicate their vision and their confidence in their subordinates' ability to attain it, and when the situation is as we have described, the result in subordinates is
1. unusual confidence in and loyalty to leadership
2 strong identification with the organization and the leader's vision
3. high motivation and commitment
4 increased self-confidence.
This can result in tremendous effort on the part of the subordinates and great success for the organization.
However, when the situation does not meet the requirements we listed above, the charismatic leader will not be successful. Further, although many of the traits of the charismatic leader are important in helping the leader succeed, they can and often do lead to eventual failure. Their high self-confidence and need for power can lead them to be extremely autocratic and self-serving. They can have little tolerance for subordinates disagreeing with them, and often blame others for their own errors. In the long-run, subordinates often tire of the charismatic leader, lose their dedication, and may even work to undermine the leader's authority. Further, if the charismatic leader has superiors in the organization, they often tire of the leader's style and become unwilling to tolerate any mistakes on the leader's part. There have been many reported examples of charismatic leaders who were not at the top of their organization being forced to leave the organization after only three or four years.
Explanation for the Effect
In attempting to explain why charismatic leaders succeed or fail, theorists have been influenced by the contingency view that leader characteristics and situational factors are input variables affecting the outcome of job performance. They also have also considered the process variables of communication and behavior linking the input and output. In addition, they have described the importance of the subordinates' perception of the charismatic leader in a way reminiscent of the perceptual approach. In fact, they have used the same psychological factors in their explanations as the perceptual theorists.
Salience effects. As we have discussed, perceptual theorists stress the impact of the salience of a group member's behavior on the odds that they will emerge as a group leader. Analogously, charismatic advocates talk about the importance of salience in the process by which a leader becomes viewed by followers as charismatic. The charismatic leader's animated communication style and inspirational communication content serve to catch the subordinates' attention, as does their attempts to behave consistently with their vision.
Implicit theory effects. We have also described the role of implicit theories in the process by which group member form leadership-relevant impressions of one another. One theorist, Conger (1989), has particularly emphasized the importance of the impression formation process on subordinates' evaluations of their leader as charismatic. After viewing the leader's salient behavior, subordinates may then use their implicit leadership theories to develop a particularly strong and positive impression of the charismatic leader. Like the "ideal organizational leader," the charismatic leader may be viewed as confident, visionary, trustworthy, and expert. Analogously, if things start going bad, the subordinates might change their impression of the leader to include characteristics the "ideal leader" does not have. The charismatic leader might now be viewed as stubborn, dictatorial, and back-stabbing.
Although there is great agreement among scientists about this theory, much of it is speculative, and little of it has received research examination. A welcome addition to the work on charismatic leadership has come from two experiments testing it.
Howell and Frost study. Howell and Frost (1989) gave business students an individual task to perform in which each acted like a business executive making a decision. Two other confederates also "worked" on the same individual task side-by-side with the real participant. The task was described by a "leader" displaying one of the following leadership styles:
1 - Task-oriented. The leader described the task and told the participants to follow the instructions, show good judgment, and be methodical in their work. The task-oriented leader sat behind a desk to distance themselves from the participants, used a "moderate" tone of voice, intermittent eye gaze, and "neutral" facial expressions (no smiling or nodding).
2 - Maintenance-oriented. The leader described the task and told the participants to relax, work at their own pace, and not to worry about the outcomes. They sat at the front edge of the desk to lessen interpersonal distance, used a "warm" tone of voice, direct eye gaze, and "friendly" facial expressions (smiling and nodding).
3 - Charismatic. The leader described the task, emphasized the importance of the results to the future of the students' coursework, encouraged them to be creative, and expressed confidence in their ability. They alternated between sitting at the front edge of the desk and pacing around the room, used a "captivating" tone of voice, direct eye gaze and "animated" facial expressions.
Then the leader left and the task began. At one point, the leader returned and spoke again. The task-oriented leader reminded the participants to focus on the task, the maintenance-oriented leader thanked the participants for performing it, and the charismatic leader reiterated confidence in the participants' abilities to perform the task. At the end of the task, the participants reported their feelings about their experience on a questionnaire.
The findings showed support for the value of charismatic leadership. The charismatic leader condition was highest on task performance, with the maintenance leader condition lowest. Turning to the questionnaire measures, the charismatic and task-oriented leader conditions were highest on participants' satisfaction with their own performance and the charismatic and maintenance-oriented leader were highest on participants' satisfaction with the leader.
Kirkpatrick and Locke study. Kirkpatrick and Locke (1996) noted a weakness with the Howell and Frost study. Howell and Frost had the charismatic leader both exhibit a certain style of nonverbal behavior and express a particular type of communication content. The results showed that this combination led to more satisfactory results for the charismatic leader conditions than for the task-oriented or maintenance-oriented. However, there is no way of knowing whether it was nonverbal style or verbal content that led to these findings.
Kirkpatrick and Locke then performed a study to distinguish between these two possible factors. They asked participants to perform a routine assembly task, in which they inserted pages into notebook binders according to a set of instructions. Before the task began, a leader either expressed a "vision" (commitment to quality) and confidence in the participants' abilities, or merely gave factual information about how paper is made. Half of the "vision" and half of the "factual" leaders used the charismatic nonverbal style as Howell and Frost had defined them. The other half used Howell and Frost's task-oriented nonverbal style. Kirkpatrick and Locke found that of the two possible factors, only the verbal expression of vision had an effect on quality of performance. This effect was indirect, working through changes in participants' goals and self-confidence.
General Conclusions: Charismatic Approach
A lot has been written about the effect of charismatic leadership in organizations. Much of what has been written has been uniformly positive and overly optimistic about its effects on subordinates' attitudes, self-confidence, and performance. There is a danger that this attention will lead to charismatic leadership becoming the newest "fad" in organizations. Organizations are already advertising for "charismatic leaders" and trying to get their present managers to act more charismatically.
All this activity ignores the fact that charismatic leadership, like any other style, is only successful in certain situations. It also ignores the fact that "naturally" charismatic leaders only too often alienate both their subordinates and their superiors, and any gains in organizational performance are often short-lived. Further, there is no reason to believe that charismatic leaders have the best interests of everyone in mind. As much as Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. fit the definition of charismatic leader, so did Adolph Hitler and Mao Tse Tung.
Having said that, it is clear that in the right circumstance, charismatic leadership can be a very successful method of management. As with the style and contingency approaches, the trick is for the organization to determine the situation they are in and to choose the right type and style of leadership for that circumstance.
PUTTING THEORY INTO PRACTICE
In this and in the previous chapter, we covered a lot of ground concerning leadership. We have described many theories, some of which are contradictory with others. The reader might imagine that it may be difficult to come up with practical suggestions from this confusion. It is true that one cannot provide a specific "How To Lead" guide. However, there are a few general recommendations that the leader should keep in mind.
First, leadership is behavioral. To lead a group is to perform certain leadership behaviors or to act in a particular leadership style. There are certain things that a person must do to be a procedural leader, a substantive leader, or a maintenance leader. Benne and Sheats (1948) have told us what those behaviors are. There are certain things a person must do to help their group interact successfully with outside groups and individuals. Ancona and Caldwell (1988) have told us what those behaviors are. There are certain things a leader must do to initiate structure or show consideration. Bass (1990) has told us what those behaviors are. To a large degree, these behaviors can be learned, and so anyone can become a leader.
Second, leadership is situational. There is no one best way to lead. But there are ways to lead that are best for particular types of tasks and for particular types of groups. Hersey and Blanchard (1969) and Vroom and Yetton (1973) have provided guides for helping us choose the right style for particular circumstances. The charismatic leadership theorists have told us when the charismatic style will help and when it will hurt the group.
Third, we must keep in the back of our minds the thoughts of those who have doubts about these ideas. For example, if the legacy of Bales's (1953) work is correct, then task-oriented leaders will be rejected by groups who do not care about their task. If Fiedler (1978) is right, then it may be very difficult for a person to learn how to perform a leadership style that is inconsistent with their personality. As the failure of the trait approach tells us, nobody is born to lead. It takes hard work, good sense, and sensitivity to be successful at leadership.
Before moving on to other topics, there is one more important issue about leadership to discuss.
GENDER DIFFERENCES IN GROUP LEADERSHIP
Gender and Power in Groups
In Chapter 5, we discussed ideas about power in groups. We outlined conceptions of how our society defines power and stated that, according to those conceptions, men tend to have more power in groups than women do.
Further, we described two reasons for this power inequity. These explanations are also useful as we approach the topic of gender differences in group leadership. Before we move on to that topic, let us review what we said about power and gender.
One reason for the power inequity in groups is perceptual. It involves how our society perceives men and women. Cultural stereotypes often cause both men and women to believe that women are, overall, less competent than men. Competency influences who gains power in groups. Hence, as expectation states theory explains, the common belief that women are less competent than men affects the power structure of groups. Members often give men power over their groups' decisions.
An exception often occurs when a group is performing a "female sex-typed" task, a task about which people believe that women have more relevant knowledge than men. For example, if a group is discussing how to sew a dress, the members often give power to women.
The second reason that women often have less power than men in groups is behavioral. As we discussed, our society has overall conceptions of a "powerful style" of communication. Women tend to act in a less "powerful style" than men in group settings. They tend to make fewer proposals, and interrupt less often than men do. They also tend to look at men more than men look at women when they communicate. In general, society judges that these behaviors are relatively low in power.
Hypothesis of Gender Differences in Leadership
How does power relate to leadership? We can assume that power and leadership often go together. We have seen gender differences when it comes to power in groups. Hence, it stands to reason that gender differences might also influence group leadership.
We shall discuss two overall hypotheses concerning gender and leadership in groups. With each, we will again focus on related perceptual and behavioral reasons.
Overall Preference for Male Leaders
First, it makes sense to hypothesize that, generally, women are less likely than men to emerge as group leaders. Again, there are both perceptual and behavioral reasons for this hypothesis.
The first reason is perceptual and follows from what we discussed under the "perceptual" approach to leadership. We described how people have beliefs about the traits and behaviors of the "ideal leader." We further showed that those beliefs influence how group members judge one another's leadership abilities.
Let us support that people have beliefs about how men and women are "supposed" to act in groups. People may believe that men are supposed to act the way that ideal leaders act. In contrast, they may feel that women are not "supposed" to act that way. If this were true, they would probably judge men to be better leaders than women. For example, someone believes that an ideal leader should act "competently." Further, this person feels that, overall, men act more "competently" than women. Thus, this person will look for a man to head the group rather than a woman.
Further, there is reason to believe that people do not expect women to assume leadership positions. Earlier in this chapter we discussed Pellegrini's (1971) study, in which participants were shown photographs of five women sitting around the table. The participants consistently rated the women sitting at the "head" of the table as higher in leadership than the other four women. Porter and Geis (1981) performed an instructive variation of Pellegrini's study.
Porter and Geis study. Whereas Pellegrini showed participants photographs of five-women groups, Porter and Geis showed their participants pictures of groups including either five women, five men, three women and two men, or three men and two women. In the groups with three women and two men, a women was sitting at the head and the men were next to her; the groups with three men and two women had a man at the head and the women next to him. Porter and Geis asked the participants to rate the members as Pellegrini had.
The results showed a strong tendency for sexual stereotyping. In the all-male, all-female, and majority-male groups, the person at the head received the highest ratings for leadership. However, in the majority-female groups, the men next to the women at the head received just as high ratings for leadership as did she. The most glaring results were found in the answers to the question of "who contributed the most to the group." In this case, the men in the female-majority groups were rated far higher than the woman at the "head." It is important to note that there were no differences in ratings between male and female participants. In other words, women were just as likely to rate the men higher than the woman at the "head" than were men.
These findings suggest that our implicit leadership theories include "male" as one of the attributes of the "ideal leader." This effect can overcome the tendency for us to see a person at the head of a table as the leader of their group.
The second reason that women are less likely to emerge as group leaders than men is behavioral and follows very clearly from issues we have discussed. The issue is how talkative group members are. Earlier in this chapter, we reported a strong association between how talkative group members are and whether they emerge as group leaders. The more a person talks, the more likely the person is to become a leader. In Chapter 5 we mentioned that women may talk less than men in groups. If this is true, it implies that women are less likely to emerge as group leaders than are men.
Types of Leadership
Our second overall hypothesis is in contrast to the first. We have proposed that, for both perceptual and behavioral reasons, people may believe that women act less like leaders than men do. Consequently, men most often emerge as group leaders. There are other possibilities, however.
People may believe that women and men act as different types of leaders. In this case, groups would not necessarily prefer to give men leadership roles. Instead, groups would decide which type of leader they need most and then perhaps search for a leader from one gender or the other, depending on their needs.
What is the reasoning behind this second hypothesis?
On a perceptual level, people tend to have stereotypes about men and women. Researchers have performed many studies of "gender-role stereotypes." In one case, Broverman et al. (1972) found that people generally believe that men possess traits such as being "objective" and "logical" and that men exhibit behaviors such as "separates feelings from ideas." In contrast, people feel that women's traits include being "sensitive" and "warm" and that female behaviors include such acts as "expresses tender feelings."
Looking at these beliefs, we can hypothesize that people would expect women to be maintenance leaders and men to be task leaders. We can carry this idea even further and say that group members look for different leadership styles from men and women. For instance, if both men and women were task leaders, people might expect men to lead in an autocratic style and women to lead in a democratic style.
Men and women could also exhibit behavioral differences in leadership roles, and group members could notice these differences. In Chapter 5 we mentioned that, proportionally, in groups women tend to be more maintenance oriented and men tend to be more task oriented. This does not necessarily mean that these differences continue to exist when men and women take on leadership roles; however, the possibility does exist.
Hence, as a result of both perceptions and behaviors, group members may believe that women and men act differently as leaders.
Research on Gender Difference in Group Leadership
Does research support either or both of these general hypotheses? Scientists have performed many studies concerning gender differences in group leadership. Eagly and her associates have reviewed these studies for overall trends.
Research on Gender and Leadership Styles
In the first review, Eagly and Johnson (1990) examined the question of leadership style. They looked at studies that investigated differences between the styles that women and men use in leadership positions.
Their findings were consistent with our second overall hypothesis. They discovered a tendency for female leaders to exhibit maintenance behaviors and for male leaders to exhibit task behaviors. In addition, Eagly and Johnson found that female task leaders are more likely to use a democratic style and that male task leaders are more likely to employ an autocratic style.
Research on Gender and Leader Emergence
In a second review, Eagly and Karau (1991) analyzed studies of gender and leader emergence. Their findings supported aspects of both our overall hypotheses.
In general, they found that men are more likely than women to emerge as overall group leaders and as task leaders. In contrast, women are more likely than men to become maintenance leaders.
Eagly and Karau discovered, however, that leader emergence depended on specifics beyond the question of maintenance and task needs. Although men are more likely to emerge as overall leaders, groups will consider several aspects before making their final decisions.
One aspect involves the "sex-type" of the task a group performs. Men more often than women become overall group leaders when their group performs male sex-typed tasks or non-sex-typed tasks. When the group performs female sex-typed tasks, however, women and men are equally likely to emerge as leaders. These findings are consistent with results for power that we discussed in Chapter 5.
Another aspect concerns whether tasks have objectively correct answers. Men are particularly likely to become overall leaders when their groups are performing problem-solving or judgment tasks.
Women, in contrast, are more likely to take on leadership roles when their groups face decision-making or negotiation tasks. We can find the reason for this discovery by looking at considerations we discussed in Chapter 9.
As we stated, problem-solving and judgment tasks have objectively correct answers. With these kinds of tasks, maintenance activities do not seem to help groups find answers. We have outlined the finding that women tend to be "maintenance" specialists. Therefore, groups could judge that women's contributions to these tasks are not particularly important, and they will not see women as potential leaders. In contrast, decision-making and negotiation tasks do not have objectively correct answers. For these tasks, groups must reach consensus. Maintenance behaviors are very helpful as a group works to achieve consensus. Thus, such groups will value women's maintenance contributions highly and will be somewhat more likely to judge women as leaders.
Finally, Eagly and Karau found that the longer the group meets, the less effect gender has on leader emergence. This finding follows from what we have learned about leadership from the perceptual approach. When a group is new, members are strongly influenced by their implicit leadership theories, which imply that a group's leader ought to be male. However, as the group develops, each member's actual behaviors come to have a greater effect on the member's impressions of one another's leadership. Therefore, who actually performs the leadership behaviors is more and more judged to be the group's leader.
Gender and Group Members' Evaluations of Leadership Performance
In a third review, Eagly, Makhijani, and Klonsky (1992) looked at studies of the ways that gender affects how group members evaluate leader performance. As earlier, their findings support aspects of both our overall hypotheses.
The review included two types of studies. In one type, male and female confederates used predetermined styles to lead groups. In the other, participants read scenarios that described women and men as leading groups in particular ways. In both cases the male and female leaders behaved in the same way. Thus, any differences in the ways in which participants reacted to the leaders would be due to gender.
Overall, the participants evaluated the women as slightly less competent leaders than the men. This judgment, however, depended on the leader's style. Evaluations of men and women were no different when both used democratic leadership styles. Participants assessed them as equally competent. When the leaders used autocratic styles, however, the participants judged the women as considerably less competent leaders than the men.
Why? As you can recall, earlier we discussed how leaders are "supposed" to act. People probably believe that men are "supposed" to lead autocratically and that women are "supposed" to lead democratically. This finding suggests that the participants were more rigid in their judgments of women than of men. It appears that men can "get away" with leading the way that women are "supposed" to lead but that women cannot "get away" with using the leadership style that men are "supposed" to use. In other words, male leaders can be more flexible than women without alienating the group members. In contrast, women have to "act like" women.
Gender and Leadership Performance
In the last review, Eagly, Karau, & Makhijani (1995) compared the actual performance of men and women as leaders. No overall difference for gender was found. However, there were many more subtle differences that imply sexual stereotyping. For example, men tend to be more successful as leaders when their subordinates were men, whereas women are more successful leading women. Women tend to be more successful in stereotypically "female" situations, such as leading in social service or educational organizations, while men excel in "male" circumstances such as the military. Finally, women are more successful when their job is seen as requiring primarily maintenance abilities, and men when task abilities are believed more important.
The functional approach to leadership does not consider the leader as a particular "person." Instead, it is concerned with the types of leadership "behaviors" that must take place within a group for the group to reach its goals. Any group member can perform these behaviors, or "functions." However, only one or two people tend to do them. Traditionally, these functions have been distinguished into task and maintenance categories. Bales believed that task functions and maintenance behaviors are so diverse that different group members generally perform them separately. Other researchers disagree with Bales's idea. In addition, there is good reason to add a third type of function, relating with groups and individuals outside of the group.
Researchers worked to discover how leaders emerge from previously leaderless groups. This is the emergent approach to leadership. They discovered that a group's emergent leader is usually its most verbally and nonverbally active member. It has also become clear that different methods of choosing leaders can be equally successful. A group can acquire a leader through election or appointment or by allowing the leader to emerge. All of these methods can work well if the group accepts the leader, and the leader is competent. Acceptance of a group leader is partly based on the extent to which the leader has conformed to group norms in the past. Past conformity allows the leader to deviate, in an innovative way, on occasion without losing the group's trust.
The perceptual perspective is a unique approach toward leadership. It claims that leadership exists mainly in the minds of each individual group member. Studies have shown that people tend to rate both imaginary and real leaders in a similar fashion. Each group member has his or her own personal view of what traits a leader should have. Every member, in turn, attributes these traits to a person he or she considers a leader.
The charismatic approach has developed due to the observation that some leaders have the ability to inspire followers to unusually high levels of effort. It appears that these leaders have a set of traits that lead them to perform in a distinctive style. When in the right situation, this style can result in very dedicated subordinates and huge success. However, the style will backfire in other situations, and the effects of charismatic leadership often disappear over time.
Researchers have performed many studies concerning gender and group leadership. The findings suggest that women are more likely than men to emerge as maintenance leaders and that men are more likely than women to become task leaders and overall leaders. As task leaders, men tend to be autocratic and women tend to be democratic. The leadership styles that men use do not affect how people evaluate their competence as leaders; however, group members often evaluate women's competence negatively when women use an autocratic style. Finally, while there is no overall gender difference in actual leadership ability, men and women tend to be more successful leaders in different situations.