"Charisma is a Fire"
If we see Barack Obama in the midst of an excited crowd of admirers, are we more likely to see him as charismatic?
According to Pastor and his colleagues, we are. But don’t get excited, you uncharismatic leaders out there. Simply persuading your supporters to get excited won’t substitute for your own charisma – you’ve got to have that, first. Only then, with your own charisma established, will the sight of your excited supporters increase observers’ belief that you are charismatic.
Most of the research on charismatic leadership has focused on the characteristics of the leaders. There has been a growing tendency to look at the followers, too. In this study, the researchers focused on the extent to which followers were aroused, i.e., the intensity of their emotional response to the leader.
One of the theories tested in this study, “misattribution theory”, suggests that a phalanx of aroused followers can, in and of itself, be interpreted as the sum and substance of the leader’s charisma. In other words, might somebody watching a non-charismatic leader mistake the followers’ excitement for charisma? The conclusion was that the leader must initially have some significant level of charisma in order for the followers’ excitement to generate more. The researchers quote Klein and House:
“Charisma is a fire, a fire that ignites followers’ energy and commitment, producing results above and beyond the call of duty.” The researchers extended that metaphor by saying that “followers’ arousal increases th flammability of followers by raising the propensity of followers to perceive the leader as charismatic and, therefore, giving a boost to the fire.”
Thus, through the lens of Integral Theory, my internal (upper-left) belief about the leader's charisma is triggered by observing not only the behavior of the leader (upper-right), but also the behavior of the followers (lower-right) which in turn evokes a shared belief between myself and the followers that the leader is charismatic (lower-left).
(Pastor, J.C., Mayo, M., & Shamir, B. (2007). Adding fuel to fire: The impact of followers' arousal on ratings of charisma, Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(6), 1584-1596.)