Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

Resolving a Paradox between Mentoring, LMX and Charisma: A Process Approach to Leadership Development

Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

Resolving a Paradox between Mentoring, LMX and Charisma: A Process Approach to Leadership Development

Article excerpt


Charismatic leaders reject the status quo and have goals, methods and behavior outside the accepted norms for the organization (Conger & Kanungo, 1987; Yukl, 1993), indicating that they would be members of the 'out' group in leader-member exchange (LMX) theory (Schriesheim, Castro & Cogliser, 1999; Dienesch & Liden, 1986), yet they are the product of mentor/protege relationships (Sosik & Godshalk, 2000; Zaleznik, 1977) which would place them in the 'in' group. A charismatic leadership development process which parallels the four phase mentor/protege relationship process (Kram, 1983) is proposed to address the contradictory 'in' and 'out' group memberships of charismatic leaders. In the proposed model the recognition of crisis or transformational opportunity occurs during the separation phase of the mentoring relationship. The emergence as a charismatic leader occurs during the redefinition phase. This research contributes to our understanding of the development of much needed charismatic leadership by exploring the role of mentoring relationships in the development of charismatic leaders.


Charismatic leadership and the leader-member exchange (LMX) model are two vibrant current areas of leadership research. The LMX model has employees divided into an 'in-group' and an 'out-group' (Schriesheim, Castro & Cogliser, 1999; Dienesch & Liden, 1986). LMX keys on social exchange,. The 'in-group' is made up of a small number of trusted employees who serve as advisors, assistants and confidants (Dansereau, Graen, & Haga, 1975). Mentors provide career development functions (Sosik & Godshalk, 2000; Kram, 1983) which can greatly facilitate acceptance into the 'in-group'. An important distinguishing characteristic of charismatic leaders is that they have mentors, therefore are likely to be members of the 'in-group'. However, charismatic leaders create a vision and facilitate change, hardly the behavior of 'in-group' advisors, assistants and confidants. The characteristics of charismatic leaders seem to warrant their placement in the 'out-group' while having a mentor/protege relationship indicates that proteges be placed in the 'in-group'. This paradox is what is addressed in this paper.

The first section of the paper provides some theoretical background. The relevant characteristics of charismatic leadership, mentoring and the LMX model are each explained. Also included in this section is an exploration of the relationships between charismatic leadership and mentoring, and LMX and mentoring.

The paradox is explained next, followed by a proposed resolution, which integrates the charismatic leadership, mentoring and the LMX models. As part of the resolution, a model of the charismatic leadership development process is presented. This process is then linked with the phases of the mentoring process. A division of individuals into those with and without mentors, those who are members of the 'in' and the 'out-group' and an exploration of their leadership potential form the basis for a set of propositions. The paper continues with a discussion of areas for further research the implications of these ideas for practitioners and concludes with a brief summary.



Many researchers have proposed that there are two fundamentally different types of leadership and/or management. Some have drawn a distinction between leadership and management (Zaleznik, 1977) or leadership and supervision (Dansereau, Graen & Haga, 1975). Others have placed the bifurcation within leadership. Two common ways that leadership has been divided are into transformational and transactional leadership (Tichy & DeVanna, 1986) or into charismatic and non-charismatic leadership (Conger & Kanungo, 1987). The various splits are conceptually similar; therefore in this paper we refer to one type as transformational (or charismatic) leadership and the other as transactional (or traditional) leadership. …

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