In the early 1900s, Sociologist Max Weber lectured in the University of Vienna from his papers of Politics as a Vocation. In it, he outlined his personal ideal types for political leadership, something he called the tripartite classification of authority: charismatic, traditional, and legal. Weber defines authority as only being legitimate if those subjected to it effectively recognize it. Within the three classifications, each type of leader must master the necessary avenues of legitimacy in order for their rule to continue.
Drucker was aggressively and unnecessarily condescending to the HR representative. While yes, being a responsible leader is much more than have a charismatic attitude, it is impossible to separate leadership and charisma. While a leader’s type of charisma might not be the “shmoozy” or “smooth-talker” type, one can also be engaging and electric, impossible to ignore. Charisma, as I see it, is the ability to turn people to your cause, however that may be. Furthermore, it’s something that cannot be overlooked and Weber agrees.
As part of his charismatic authority (also known as charismatic domination), Weber states that this is one of the most difficult forms of authority to maintain because all of the leader’s power is entirely dependent on the collective followers’ belief that the leader is simply just powerful. His accomplishments and/or actual power is inconsequential, and it’s entirely built upon the perception of strength. Which is why, in a cult of personality, an active media campaign and propaganda is critical to the continued success of the (often times) dictator.
As Drucker mentioned before, communication is all about perception. If a Kim Jong Il-type figure announces to his nation of followers that they are in fact the most powerful nation in the world, and that is what the audience is expecting to hear, why wouldn’t it be believed?
However, this type of authority is often most dangerous to cult-of-personality figures for two reasons: 1) often, theirs is not a lasting legacy by the very nature of their authority and 2) they are unable to accept the rest of conditions of being a leader.
Because the authority is based on perceived achievements, generally after the death of the figure, the power is immediately disbursed because there is no possible way for the successor (if there is one named) to absorb the same “divinity” of the original leader. This is why traditional authority (sources of authority for a monarchy) and legal rational domination (power given by ownership of legal office) tend to be much more stable when designing a power structure.
I believe that the defining factor of a leader, not just someone who holds the ability to harm or help others, is someone who accepts responsibility. While work and trust are important, I think first acknowledging all success AND FAILURES are due large in part to the execution and design of the leader should be first in foremost. If that were a widely recognized factor, then I think there would be a significant drop in the global volley for a position of authority.
Power is alluring. But responsibility for the safety, health, and success of those whom you lead is often less so. And those qualified to fulfill the role of leader— not those who forcefully take it— dwindle the numbers even further