Welcome to the dark side of charisma…
Most people who have never worked directly under PK would describe him as charismatic. “Charismatic leaders are essentially very skilled communicators – individuals who are both verbally eloquent, but also able to communicate to followers on a deep, emotional level. They are able to articulate a compelling or captivating vision, and are able to arouse strong emotions in followers” (Riggio, 2012). This was exactly who PK was. He always has entertaining stories and jokes to tell that will put a smile on everyone’s face. He has that personality that just makes his people feel so comfortable around him. He really knows how to build a deeper relationship with his employees with effective communication. He preaches about his values and examples of how he exhibits principles of good leadership. He is extremely persuasive, influential, and seen as trustworthy. Sounds like a wonderful boss to work for, right?
…Hold that thought.
In the beginning, his team went above and beyond for PK. They willingly stayed overtime to help achieve company goals. The team was motivated and took on more responsibilities. This hard work was rewarding and the department exceeded expectations numerous times. These great accomplishments had caught the attention of some executive officers. They praised PK for his great leadership skills and told him to continue the great work. However, the team began to notice some of PK’s negative behaviors. PK began micromanaging, making unreasonable requests, and started changing procedures to his liking. There was even a situation where an employee had gone home for the day, but because PK wanted to satisfy one of his customers, he asked the employee to come back to do overtime. PK began with manipulation by saying that when he gives yearly raises, he knows who went above and beyond for him and who did not. Unfortunately, PK’s manipulative ways did not work. When the employee attempted to reason with him, PK got upset and resorted to force. “Charm is based on emotional manipulation and, as such, it has the ability to trump any rational assessment and bias our views. Charismatic leaders influence by charm rather than reason and when they run out of charm they tend to revert to force” (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2014). PK’s charisma worked for a while until his true colors showed. He no longer had that “power” so he began using manipulative tactics and force to get what he wanted.
As this situation went on, everyone on PK’s team have experienced some sort of manipulation or force. PK refused to listen to anyone who tried to reason with him. He felt that everything he is doing is the right way and he showed that. During the annual performance review, PK nitpicked on things to give his employees a bad review. This was extremely unprofessional and it made his team members upset. His team began talking behind his back. His team went from high energy and high motivation to low job satisfaction and unmotivated. No one was willing to stay over time and everyone wanted to avoid interacting with him if possible. Some employees have even began looking at other jobs. When PK noticed the decline in motivation, he told his team members that he can write powerful letters of recommendations to help advance their career only if they prove themselves. When that tactic was ineffective in motivating his team again, he began writing more ridiculous things on the annual review. He would even say things like “you look like you hate their job because you always avoid eye contact” or even “you constantly look depressed or overwhelmed” during the annual review. However, he never stopped to think that he could be the issue. He never took the time to self reflect on his poor management skills. He was delusional in thinking that the department is so great all because of him.
While a charismatic leader may seem attractive at first, there is a dark side to it. According to Harvard Business Review, charisma is “addictive” and “disguises psychopaths” (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2014). In this case, PK started off with being influential and a leader that many would want to learn from. He was viewed as an ideal manager. Who would not want to work for a respectful and trustworthy manager? Everyone hopes to build a good relationship with their mentor. However, the truth was that PK’s main concern was to use his team member as tools to impress the executives. When he did not get what he want through his use of charisma, he used force. Because the department exceeded expectations, PK believes it was because of all his hard work. In reality, it was the work of his whole team. The lecture also points out that “because a subset of extroverts is likely to be narcissistic, some people who rise to the top of an organization appear to be friendly and concerned for others, even though they are actually self serving” (Penn State, n.d.). PK is very deceiving because people who do not work directly under him would not see his selfish, manipulative, and demanding side. He speaks as if his concern is for his team and how much he values them, but in reality his main motive is to impress the executives so he can get a promotion. He does not care about his team at all. He only cares about whether or not they can get him what he wants. Charisma may seem ideal in leadership, but there is a definite dark side to it. It can be dangerous. PK is a good example of charisma gone bad.
Penn State University (n.d.). L09: Personality. PSY 533 Ethics and Leadership. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1848568/pages/l09-overview?module_item_id=22607079
Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2014, August 07). The Dark Side of Charisma. Retrieved June 16, 2017, from https://hbr.org/2012/11/the-dark-side-of-charisma
Riggio, R. E. (2012, October 07). What Is Charisma and Charismatic Leadership? Retrieved June 16, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201210/what-is-charisma-and-charismatic-leadership