Too Charismatic? It May Hurt You in the Workplace

You spell bind your audiences.  Everyone laughs at your jokes.  You've even received a standing ovation after a speech.  You have charisma.

But is that a good -- or bad -- thing?

A new study finds that charismatic leaders do better when they're somewhere in the middle -- not too charismatic but not lacking charisma altogether.

Those with lower amounts (but not too low) of charisma are more effective, according to newswise.com.

Too much may hinder a leader, the website reports, based on research published by the American Psychological Association.
“Our findings suggest that organizations may want to consider selecting applicants with mid-range levels of charisma into leadership roles, instead of extremely charismatic leaders,” says Jasmine Vergauwe, a doctoral student at Ghent University and lead author of the study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Vergauwe studied subjects using a charismatic personality test, 56 questions, known as the charismatic cluster, from the Hogan Development Survey, an instrument used to assess the personality of leaders. The charismatic cluster focuses on four personality tendencies: Bold, mischievous, colorful and imaginative. 
In two other studies, the researchers compared the charisma scores of nearly 600 business leaders with their effectiveness as reported by peers, subordinates and superiors. In both studies, they found that as charisma increased, so did perceived effectiveness, but only up to a point. At a certain level, as charisma scores continued to increase, perceived effectiveness started to decline.
“Leaders with both low and high charismatic personalities were perceived as being less effective than leaders with moderate levels of charisma, and this was true according to all three rater groups,” said co-author Filip De Fruyt, PhD, also of Ghent University.
Further analysis of the data suggests that the point at which the relationship between charisma and effectiveness turns negative can be moderated by an individual’s level of adjustment, or ability to cope with stressful events. The researchers also discovered that low-charisma leaders were seen as less effective because they were not sufficiently strategic, while high-charisma leaders were seen as less effective because they were weak on operational behavior.
An operational leader is someone who guides the team to get things done in the near term by managing the tactical details of execution, focusing resources, and managing with process discipline. 
Strategic leadership, on the other hand, involves effectively communicating a vision for an organization and persuading others to share that vision. Because they appeared to exhibit both of these behaviors in adequate amounts, moderately charismatic leaders were rated most effective, Vergauwe theorized.
The findings were partially surprising, said Vergauwe, because the researchers had expected that interpersonal characteristics associated with charisma might also play a role, but they found no such association.
“While conventional wisdom suggests that highly charismatic leaders might fail for interpersonal reasons like arrogance and self-centeredness, our findings suggest that business-related behaviors, more than interpersonal behavior, drive leader effectiveness ratings,” she notes.





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