Personality and Charisma in the U.S. Presidency: A Psychological Theory of Leader Effectiveness

By House, Robert J.; Spangler, William D. et al. | Administrative Science Quarterly, September 1991 | Go to article overview

Personality and Charisma in the U.S. Presidency: A Psychological Theory of Leader Effectiveness


House, Robert J., Spangler, William D., Woycke, James, Administrative Science Quarterly


We argue in this paper that in an age of complexity, change, large enterprises, and nation states, leaders are more important than ever. However, their effectiveness depends on their personality and charisma and not solely on their control over bureaucratic structures. We used a study of U.S. presidents to test a general model of leader effectiveness that includes leader personality characteristics, charisma, crises, age of the institution headed by the leader, and leader effectiveness. Age of the presidency accounted for approximately 20 percent of the variance in presidential needs for power, achievement, and affiliation. Presidential needs and a measure of leader self-restraint in using power, the age of the presidency, and crises accounted for 24 percent of the variance in presidential charisma. Age of the presidency, crises, needs, and charisma together predicted from 25 percent to 66 percent of the variance in five measures of presidential performance. Our study demonstrates that personality and charisma do make a difference. *

* The authors are indebted to Bruce J. Avolio, Martin G. Evans, Steward Friedman, Jane Howell, Bruce Kogut, Marshall MEyer, Jitendra V. Singh, Gordon Walker, and Glenn Whyte for their constructive comments on an earlier draft of this paper. We particularly thank the Associate Editor, Gerald Salancik, for his assistance in strengthening this paper. The authors are also indebted to Nan Weiner for assistance in developing the biographical coding techniques used in this paper and to Jay Anand for his assistance in the statistical analyses. The research reported in this paper was partially supported by Grant 410-85-009-R2 from the social Sciences Council of Canada and by the Huntsman Center for Global Management and Leadership at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Traditional leadership theories and research have focused almost exclusively on the effects of leaders on followers' cognition (Evans, 1970; House, 1971; Wofford and Srinivasan, 1983), leader reinforcement behaviors (Ashour, 1982; Podsakoff, Todor, and Skov, 1982), leader and follower exchange relationships (Graen and Cashman, 1975), and the processes by which leaders accumulate "idiosyncratic credit" that can be used subsequently as "units of exchange" to influence followers (Hollander, 1964). Traditional leadership theory thus focuses on leader control over such aspects of the followers' environment as rewards and punishmnets, job characteristics, authority relations, resources, training, and followers' perceptions of their environment.

Since the mid 1970s, however, a new genre of leadership theory has emerged (e.g., House, 1977; Burns, 1978; Bass, 1985; Bennis and Nanus, 1985; Tichy and Devanna, 1986' Kuhnert and Lewis, 1987; Conger and Kanungo, 1988; Sashkin, 1988). All of these new theories invoke inspirational, visionary, and symbolic behavior--behavior described by Weber (1947)as charismatic. In this new genre of theory, which we refer to as charismatic leadership theory, attention has been shifted to exceptional leaders who have extraordinary effects on their followers and eventually on social systems. It is the argument of this new genre of leadership theorythat such charismatic leaders affect followers in ways that are quantitatively greater and qualitatively different than the effects specified by past leadership theories. Charismatic leaders transform the needs, values, preferences, and aspirations of followers. These leaders motivate followers to make significant personal sacrifices in the interest of some mission and to perform above and beyond the call of duty. Followers become less motivated by self-interest and more motivated to serve the interests of the larger collective. The new theories that describe charismatic leadership focus on the emotional attachment of followers to the leader; the emotional and motivational arousal of followers; identification with the mission articulated by the leader; followers' self-esteem, trust, and confidence in the leader, values that are of major importance to followers; and followers' intrinsic motivation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Personality and Charisma in the U.S. Presidency: A Psychological Theory of Leader Effectiveness
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.