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From a Behavioral Toward an Interactional Theory of Charisma in Organizations
Unformatted Document Text:  Student Paper Interactional Theory of Charisma 14 way. In a behavioral theory of charismatic leadership there are certain qualities generalizable of leaders. If the leader but learns how to perform these acts, mostly consisting of motivation and persuasive communication, she can become a good leader. While this process always occurs in the context of organizational members, it is not wholly dependent upon their interaction to make it effective. While there could never be of course an effective leader without followers, behavioral theories only require recognition of the leader, it is then up to the leader to determine the necessary steps to enact upon his followers. The flow of charisma in such a model is mostly unidirectional. Weber notes the extreme importance of the followers in establishing charismatic authority as it becomes endowed in a role or and office. The followers construct a relationship of need with the office. The office itself does not have to consistently perform certain behavioral functions in order to be effective, but depends largely on the devotion of followers for it perpetuation. Second, movements often headed up by charismatic leaders have practical management needs. Weber implies that such needs are not easily met by leaders because of the instability of charisma: “Indeed in its purest form, charismatic authority may be said to exist only in the process of originating. It cannot remain stable, but becomes either traditionalized or rationalized, or a combination of both” (1947, p. 364). Because true charismatic leadership (in the Weberian as opposed to the behavioral sense) is so unstable and erratic, charisma of office is one possible functional substitution, and in the long run a more effective one, to personal charisma. When pure charisma enters social institutions it gives way to rational forces (Weber, 1968). As the initial drive and revolutionary force of the charismatic leader wanes, both due to its instability in an organization and the pragmatic needs of the followers, charisma becomes less associated with qualities than it does with outcomes. Often what seems to occur is that followers’ perceptions of

Authors: Leonardi, Paul.
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Student Paper Interactional Theory of Charisma 14
way. In a behavioral theory of charismatic leadership there are certain qualities generalizable of
leaders. If the leader but learns how to perform these acts, mostly consisting of motivation and
persuasive communication, she can become a good leader. While this process always occurs in
the context of organizational members, it is not wholly dependent upon their interaction to make
it effective. While there could never be of course an effective leader without followers,
behavioral theories only require recognition of the leader, it is then up to the leader to determine
the necessary steps to enact upon his followers. The flow of charisma in such a model is mostly
unidirectional. Weber notes the extreme importance of the followers in establishing charismatic
authority as it becomes endowed in a role or and office. The followers construct a relationship of
need with the office. The office itself does not have to consistently perform certain behavioral
functions in order to be effective, but depends largely on the devotion of followers for it
perpetuation.
Second, movements often headed up by charismatic leaders have practical management
needs. Weber implies that such needs are not easily met by leaders because of the instability of
charisma: “Indeed in its purest form, charismatic authority may be said to exist only in the
process of originating. It cannot remain stable, but becomes either traditionalized or rationalized,
or a combination of both” (1947, p. 364). Because true charismatic leadership (in the Weberian
as opposed to the behavioral sense) is so unstable and erratic, charisma of office is one possible
functional substitution, and in the long run a more effective one, to personal charisma. When
pure charisma enters social institutions it gives way to rational forces (Weber, 1968). As the
initial drive and revolutionary force of the charismatic leader wanes, both due to its instability in
an organization and the pragmatic needs of the followers, charisma becomes less associated with
qualities than it does with outcomes. Often what seems to occur is that followers’ perceptions of


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