With the upcoming presidential elections, candidates are trying their best to relate to voters and appear charismatic. But what is charisma?
Two researchers say that the trait doesn't come from leaders themselves, but from their followers who create a mystique around the idea of their leader. How important is charisma to our politicians and leaders, and how much can followers actually control the image and personality a leader develops?
Alex Haslam, professor of social and organizational psychology at the University of Exeter in England, recently wrote an article on the topic with Stephen Reicher, professor of psychology at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. They joined The Daily Circuit to discuss charisma.
"Charisma emerges not as something leaders have; you talk about them having charisma, but it's clear from studies we've done is that charisma emerges as a relationship between followers and leaders, whether or not people have it is a product of their relationship," Haslam said. "You can ask listeners to think of President Obama, and time and time again Republicans think he's less charismatic then Democrats do, because they don't have the same relationship with him."
Reicher said his research helps empower followers to read charisma and how it can influence decisions.
"Learning those skills (charisma) is a process, they can be systematized and can be taught," he said. "What's important is that followers can be taught as well, they can learn what leaders are trying to do and how they operate, and that increases their choice and their knowledge."