Leaders Like Martin Luther King, Jr.

1149 Words Sep 18th, 2014 5 Pages
Leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill and Hitler have one thing in common; the word charisma is usually attached to them when people describe their characteristics as a leader. Charisma defined by the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary is “a personal magic of leadership arousing special popular loyalty or enthusiasm for a public figure (as a political leader); a special magnetic charm or appeal” (Merriam-Webster, 2014). The Oxford Dictionary states that charisma is “Compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others” (Oxford University Press, 2014).
Max Weber (known as the father of sociology) first introduced the concept of charisma with the relationship to power and authority. He described charisma as a personality trait that sets her/him apart from the masses. The charismatic individual is deemed to have supernatural, superhuman, or to possess exceptional power that is not readily accessible to a regular person (Weber, 1947). Weber further believed that charisma was the result of a social crisis and that these leaders have extraordinary appeal because they “…emerge with the radical vision that provides the solution to the crisis” (Barbuto, 1997, p. 689). For example, Martin Luther King, Jr. arose in the civil rights movement as a beacon of change, equality and eventually for peace.
The power of the charismatic leader is often defined by how the followers perceive and act. Researchers believe that the leader…

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