In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Charismatic and Transformational Leadership

  • Introduction
  • Textbooks
  • Reference Resources
  • Journals
  • Dark Side of Charismatic and Transformational Leadership
  • Measurement of Leadership
  • Beyond Charismatic and Transformative Leadership Perspectives
  • Concluding Comments

Management Charismatic and Transformational Leadership
Kevin B. Lowe, Hanoku Bathula
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 March 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 March 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0160


Leadership is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon which defies comprehensive definition in a sentence or two. As the legendary Ralph Stogdill, the author of the Handbook of Leadership: A Survey of the Theory and Research (1974), famously commented, there are almost as many different definitions of leadership as there are people who have attempted to define the concept. One perspective on leadership is the process of developing a vision and communicating that vision in a way that influences others to embrace and act on the vision. Traditional transactional leadership theories focused on interpersonal transactions, founded on principles of rational economic exchange, between managers and employees by using rewards systems to influence employee behavior. However, newer leadership theories that emerged around the 1980s, often referred to collectively as neo-charismatic theories, explained how leaders could influence their followers to place the needs of the organizational mission above their own self-interest. The two most popular of those theories, namely, charismatic leadership and transformational leadership, are both focused on creating a unique bond between leaders and followers, resulting in superior performance. While the terms charismatic and transformational are often used interchangeably and are in some ways linked to each other conceptually, there is a significant difference in the full range of their respective conceptualizations. This chapter covers major theoretical developments and their practical relevance to practicing managers and provides a list of important resources that can help researchers in this area.


Charismatic and transformational leadership theories are covered in most standard leadership books used in universities. Textbooks usually trace the evolution of leadership theories from traits and behaviors of leaders to more recent perspectives on leadership including charismatic and transformational leadership. Some books also focus on followers’ characteristics and/or knowledge and on the context in which the leadership process occurs to identify relevant leadership models from the followers’ perspective. We have identified a set of popular university textbooks used globally. Three widely used textbooks are Northouse 2018 (eighth edition), Yukl 2013 (eighth edition), and Daft 2015 (sixth edition). A list of these textbooks, as well as a few other scholarly textbooks that may be helpful to researchers interested in charismatic and transformational leadership, is provided.

  • Bass, Bernard M., and Ruth Bass. Bass’s Handbook of Leadership. 4th ed. New York: Free Press, 2008.

    This book, which served as a compulsory resource for every serious student of leadership for over three decades, displayed the scholarship of the late Bernard Bass, whose research career spanned seven decades. A section on the new leadership covers the topic of charismatic and transformational leadership.

  • Daft, Richard L. The Leadership Experience. 6th ed. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, 2015.

    While covering the history and traditional theories of leadership, this book goes beyond to address themes and issues that are related to the contemporary turbulent environment and emerging issues such as cybercrime and other scandals.

  • DuBrin, Andrew J. Leadership: Research Findings, Practice, and Skills. 8th ed. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning, 2011.

    This textbook takes a practical, skill-building approach to teach leadership using many case studies, role-play, and other skill-building exercises. The chapter on charismatic and transformational leadership provides not only theoretical developments but also practical implications for organizations.

  • Hughes, Richard L., Robert C. Ginnett, and Gordon J. Curphy. Leadership: Enhancing the Lessons of Experience. 8th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2015.

    This textbook provides a comprehensive view of leadership theoretical perspectives with a complementary skill-building emphasis embedded throughout. The book’s subtitle, Enhancing the Lessons of Experience, reflects the leadership development influence of the authors, who worked for the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) for several years. CCL is one of the world’s leading think tanks on leadership development, and this text provides considerable exposure to that line of thinking around leadership development.

  • Northouse, Peter G. Leadership: Theory and Practice. 8th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2018.

    This book, one of the most widely used textbooks globally, has been translated into different languages. A key feature is that it traces how leadership thought has developed over time while providing an opportunity for students to take self-assessment tests and reflect on theories presented. One of the chapters covers the topic of transformational leadership and charisma, providing great insights.

  • Yukl, Gary A. Leadership in Organisations. 8th ed. Boston: Pearson Education, 2013.

    This book explains and critiques major theories relating to effective leadership, including a chapter titled “Charismatic and Transformational Leadership” with a robust discussion of these perspectives; provides a combination of theory and practice, making it useful for practicing managers.

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