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Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Charismatic Leadership Style

Discuss about the Strategic the Leadership Experience.

Leadership is defined as the process of creating ideas and vision, living by values that support those ideas and visions, influencing behaviour of their followers and making tough decisions as and when required (Hellriegel & John W. Slocum, 2011). As per the definition of leadership the five key attributes of successful leadership are, ideas, vision, living by values, influencing others and making decisions. Success of a leader depends on a number of factors, however their choice of leadership style play the most significant role in determining their effectiveness as a leader (Bryman, 2013). A leader’s style of providing directions, motivating others, formulating strategies and implementing plans is referred to as their leadership style. A leader can choose from five main types of leadership styles namely, situational leadership style, transactional leadership style, transformational leadership style, servant leadership style and authentic leadership style (Bertocci, 2009). Leaders’ choice of leadership style will greatly influence the overall performance, productivity, motivation, commitment and contribution of their employees towards organisational goals and objectives. The purpose of this report is to analyse the leadership style of Arnold Schwarzenegger and determine how his leadership style contributes towards his development as an effective leader.

Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger born on 30th July, 1947 is an Austrian-American actor, businessman, filmmaker, author, investor, politician, former professional bodybuilder, activist and philanthropist (Gallo, 2012). From 2003 till 2011, Arnold served as the 38th Governor of California. At the tender age of 15 Arnold began his weight training and at the age of 20 he won the Mr. Universe title. He is recognised as one of the world’s greatest bodybuilders and got his entry into Hollywood as an action hero and is known as a Hollywood action film icon. The name of Arnold Schwarzenegger immediately brings in the memory of the epic film Terminator that created records across the globe. Apart from Terminator, Arnold has made his appearance in many successful films such as, Commando, Predator, The Running Man, Twins, Total Recall, True Lies and Kindergarten Cop (Gallo, 2012). Arnold Schwarzenegger has also been the author of several bestselling books and have gained good success has a filmmaker. It was in 2003 when he was first elected as a Republican to replace Gray Devis in a special recall election. He served his term as a Governor till 2011 and it was during thus tenure that he created an image of a model leader for the 21st century in the minds of his followers (Laird, 2014). He has all the traits of good successful leader and is recognised worldwide for his Charismatic leadership style. He is an effective communicator who has a unique vision and possess an inherit charisma that help motivating and influence behaviour of his followers. He used his popularity in bodybuilding to achieve all his career goals and eventually he used his popularity as celebrity to enter politics and being desired changes in society. His popularity as a bodybuilder and then a renowned Hollywood star helped him become the Governor of the state of California with overwhelming majority. Arnold’s charismatic leadership style not only helped him in achieving his career goals but also enabled him bring notable changes in the society while he served as the Governor.

Distinctive Features of Charismatic Leadership Style

Recognised worldwide as a great bodybuilder, renowned Hollywood action film icon and an American political leader, Arnold Schwarzenegger had a vision for himself which he named as the American dream (Gallo, 2012). Born in Austria, Arnold always wanted to become recognised personnel in America. He took the path of hard-work, determination and dedication to achieve his goals. He took the path of bodybuilding to enter Hollywood as an action icon and his popularity in Hollywood helped him win Governor Elections with overwhelming majority. Arnold since very beginning of his career laid emphasis on developing strong interpersonal relationships with people associated with him. He displays an inherit charisma that helped him influence and motivate others. He possessed the ability of involving people around him towards a common mission (Laird, 2014). He possesses effective communication skills which helped him communicate his vision to others and ensure people feel connected to the vision. Arnold possessed an ability to connect emotionally with his followers at a deeper level and identify their needs and concerns. He always appeared as an extrovert leader who was open for public meetings, media interviews and all forms of two-way communication (Gallo, 2012). All these traits and characteristics of Arnold Schwarzenegger points to the fact that he used charismatic leadership style to motivate direct and influence his followers.

Leaders using charismatic leadership style use their personality and charm as the most important tool to gather followers and their trust (Adair, 2009). Their commitment and conviction to their vision and purpose drive charismatic leaders. Charismatic leadership style is often referred to as transformational leadership style as there are many similarities between the two leadership styles. Like transformational leaders who have a vision for change and innovation, charismatic leaders also focus on bring valuable changes in the ordinary ways of thinking and working (Ballantyne, 2009). However transformational leadership style and charismatic leadership style differ in terms of their audience and focus. Leaders with transformational leadership style emphasize on transforming the organisation in a way that help achieving their vision. Contrary to this leaders with charismatic leadership style emphasize on making the status quo better which in turn help them in achieving their vision (Armstrong & Stephens, 2005). Arnold Schwarzenegger with his charismatic leadership style always focused on making the status quo better and gaining a huge fan following which ultimately helped him in developing a successful political career. He used his engaging personality, effective communication, powerful oratory and unwavering commitment to bring positive changes in the lives of millions of individuals.

Leaders using charismatic leadership style can be easily differentiated from other leaders as they are essentially highly skilled communicators, not only are they verbally eloquent but also possess the ability to communicate and connect with their followers on a deep, emotional level (Bass & Bass, 2009). Leadership effectiveness of charismatic leaders is more evident in times of crisis as they exhibit exceptional devotion towards their vision and expertise in their fields. Charismatic leadership style enable these leaders develop a clear vision and engage with a comparatively larger audience. Unlike the other leadership styles, charismatic leadership style depends more on the actions of the leaders and their personality compared to the present processes and structures (Tellis, 2006). Arnold Schwarzenegger as a true charismatic leader used his personality and charm to engage with a large audience. He with his effective communication style could connect emotionally with his followers. As he himself has work hard to achieve his goals he could understand the needs and concerns of his followers at a deeper level. Most of his speeches, press conferences and presentations would include stories of his hard work, firm determination, struggles, success and life experiences which helped him communicate his vision with a larger audience (Gallo, 2012). Schwarzenegger was funny, charming, inspiring, and smart and had gained an expertise in public speaking through relentless practice. He could make his audience feel that he was one among them and has passed through almost similar problems while he was trying to achieve his career goals.

Effectiveness of Charismatic Leadership Style

Effectiveness of Charismatic leadership style relies greatly on the leader’s ability to inspire and influence followers (Mullins, 2011). Like any other leadership styles, charismatic leadership style is recognisable but can be perceived with less tangibility. Charismatic leadership style enhances leader’s ability to inspire and motivate their audience to be better and work hard for the greater good of the society. Leader’s primary focus is to align the thought and efforts of their followers towards a common goal (Palmer, Walls, Burgess, & Stough, 2001). Charismatic leadership style encourages boldness and initiatives. They encourage their followers to enhance their personality and charm and believe in themselves. These leaders have a personal vision which has a great deal of influence on their audience. Instead of emphasizing on existing ways of doing things, charismatic leaders emphasize on passion and moral compass (Blanken, 2016). Arnold Schwarzenegger always believed in his dreams, born in Austria he had a vision of becoming a renowned American and called his vision as “American Dream”. He started his career as bodybuilders and eventually moved to Hollywood and then into politics. His speeches as always very motivation and quotes like “consider oneself as a “brand” irrespective of the career path” possessed immense strength to motivate and engage his listeners. He believes that great brands are always run but effective leaders who have created specific vision. Arnold ultimate goal was to reach America and to achieve this he followed his vision of becoming the world’s champion in bodybuilding (Gallo, 2012). Since childhood, Arnold not only dared to dream big but he dreamed bigger than others, a quality that made him different from others. He followed his dreams with hard work and firm determination and his life story became a lesson for many of his followers. Leadership quotes like “if you can see it and believe it, you can achieve it” inspired many of his followers and helped them in achieving their personal and professional goals. Arnold Schwarzenegger encourages his followers to dream above normal because in today’s highly competitive global economy, being normal only guarantees below-average results (Laird, 2014). His followers felt engaged and could see themselves aligned with his vision of making the state of California a better place to live.

Leaders using charismatic leadership style are often found to be more sensitive towards the needs of their followers and the environment (Bonnici, 2011). They are inclined to take personal risk for the betterment of the society. They are adept at using unconventional behaviour which differentiates them from other leaders. Charismatic leader make his follower believe that he is one among them and can relate with their needs and concerns (Fairholm, 2009). Arnold Schwarzenegger being a renowned bodybuilder and Hollywood star enjoys huge fan following and is an inspiration for many. His fans are highly interested in knowing about his life experiences and can relate to his struggles. His fans feel motivated and inspired to make efforts to achieve their dreams and bring a good change in the society. Arnold Schwarzenegger since beginning has emphasized on the adoption of green energy as he believes that climate change is the biggest issue of present time (Gallo, 2012). His actions at California to adopt green energy not only helped creating more jobs in the state but also made it energy independent. Arnold Schwarzenegger as a true charismatic leaders used his popularity to engage a larger audience today the green energy and climate change initiative leading it to success.

Leader’s choice of leadership style has a direct cause and effect relationship upon their overall success and organisational effectiveness (Clements & Washbush, 1999). Leadership style used by leader determines the culture, values, level of employee motivation and change tolerance within the organisation. Regardless of the leadership style selected, a leaders prime responsibility is to derive maximum benefit from organisation’s most expensive and vital resources that is its human resources. Ability to motivate and engage human resources of an organisation or community is a common trait shared by all successful leaders and their choice of a specific leadership style enhance their ability to do so (Clinebell, Trijonyte, & Reardon, 2013). Charismatic leadership style is one of the most successful trait-driven leadership styles wherein the leader possesses an ability to create a vision and also has the personality and charm to motivate and engage their followers to execute that vision.  Arnold Schwarzenegger had a vision for himself and the community and with his charismatic leadership style he very effectively motivated and engaged those around him to execute that vision. Arnold Schwarzenegger speeches had always been highly motivational and he showed his complete support to creativity and innovation (Laird, 2014). Being a socialised charismatic leader Arnold Schwarzenegger encouraged two-way communication, worked for empowering his followers and served the interest of community above everything else.

Like any other leadership style, charismatic leadership style has its own strengths and weaknesses. One of the most recognisable strength of charismatic leadership style is the timing in which the leader enters the scene (Jong & Hartog, 2007). Charismatic leaders mostly make their appearance in the times of crisis or difficulties. Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared as a political leader in the recall elections for the Governor of the state of California. He replaced Grey Davis the formal Governor of California with overwhelming majority owing to his personality, charm and ability to connect with his followers at a deeper, emotional level. Leaders with charismatic leadership style often dream bigger than their counterparts and believe strongly in their vision and cause and getting things done in their ways (Jr, 2005). These leaders strive for change, cause and innovation. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s dreams were bigger than any normal man; he believed in his dreams and did everything possible to achieve them. Charismatic leadership style focuses on leading with value transformation (Kitchin, 2010). The leader aims at bringing a considerable change in the values, needs, goals and self-concepts of their people. Instead of satisfying the existing needs and concerns of their people they tend to change the attitude and behaviour of their people in a positive direction and align their efforts to a common vision. Leaders with charismatic leadership style use their personality, effective communication and storytelling to motivate and inspire behaviour of their people (Bryman, 2013). They encourage their followers to dream bigger than normal, believe in those dreams and find ways of fulfilling those dreams. Arnold Schwarzenegger always shared his personal experiences and the struggles he faced to inspire his people. Charismatic leadership style helped him in achieving his big dreams and also contributes towards the betterment of the society. It enabled Arnold Schwarzenegger enhance his abilities of easily gathering support from a large audience, create and communicate effectively a vision of change and cause, convey positive energy and a sense of presence and to take innovative and unconventional approach to problem-solving and decision making (Bertocci, 2009). Arnold Schwarzenegger already had a strong visual presence owing to his looks and his profession and use of charismatic leadership style helped him in improving his oratory skills. In all his speeches and presentations he used stirring words and emotional effects to communicate his vision to his followers. Strength of charismatic leadership style is that it enhances leader’s ability to develop strong social capital which refers to the collective value of networks and the inclination resulting from these networks to do good for each other.

However, apart from these strengths charismatic leadership style also has some weaknesses such as they can leave. People following a charismatic leader often find it difficult to stick to the same vision and purpose when the leader leaves. In absence of a charismatic leader, followers appear rudderless and without direction (Armstrong & Stephens, 2005). It is often seen that leaders under the influence of charismatic leadership style end up making promises that they cannot achieve. Their believe themselves and have high self-confidence and in the process they sometimes ignore the process of evaluating the capabilities of their followers. Their speeches are motivational and inspiring but at times the followers actually lack relevant skills to achieve certain goals (Bryman, 2013). Dreaming big and believing in those dreams is good but it is also important to work towards those dreams, mere words cannot build castles. Empowering language and popular powerful buzz words are helpful in creating a sense of urgency to align people towards a common goal, but these can have a negative affect when just words are being communicated and people see no actions. Arnold Schwarzenegger won the recall elections against Grey Davis with overwhelming majority owing to his popularity and charm but as his tenure being a Governor was evaluated it was found that he was successful in engaging a large audience but was not must successful in fulfilling his promises. Another recognisable weakness of charismatic leadership style is that it makes the leader feel suffocating under the weight of material measures and expectations (Adair, 2009). Compared to any other leadership style, charismatic leadership style is more susceptible to losing steam. As the leader using charismatic leadership style sets big expectations since the beginning, the emotional and psychological requirements of followers can become very high and the leader might not be able to satisfy those needs as they are involved in implementing their thoughts, thus leaving the followers unsatisfied. Arnold Schwarzenegger emerged as an effective leader in time of crisis and his charismatic leadership style helped him win support from a large audience, however as time passed by expectations grew and as he was unable to meet all those expectations his popularity as a politician reduced. Tensions start developing between leaders and followers when followers sense a lack of leader follow-through which eventually results in burning out of the charismatic leader (Mullins, 2011). Similar was the case with Arnold Schwarzenegger when he was not re-elected as the Governor of the state of California again. People had enough of his motivational and inspiring speeches and life lessons and as it always happens in a human environment, they wanted something new to feed their emotional and psychological needs.

Conclusion

Charismatic leadership style is one which enables leaders to use their personality and charm to engage a larger audience and align them towards a common vision and purpose. Charismatic leaders possess the ability to create a vision for change and are natural orators who can communicate their vision effectively to their followers. Charismatic leadership style enabled Arnold Schwarzenegger create a big vision for himself called the “American dream”, believe in his vision and make all efforts possible to achieve his vision. It helped him use his personality and charm to win recall elections against Grey Davis, the former Governor of the state of California with overwhelming majority. However at the same time it was evaluated that Arnold Schwarzenegger performed poorly as a Governor as it was more about motivation speeches than realistic actions.

References

Adair, J. (2009). Leadership and Motivation: The Fifty-Fifty Rule and the Eight Key Principles of Motivating Others. London: Kogan Page Publishers.

Armstrong, M., & Stephens, T. (2005). A Handbook of Management and Leadership: A Guide to  Managing for Results. London: Kogan Page Publishers.

Ballantyne, S. (2009). Leadership decision-making utilizing a strategic focus to enhance global achievement. Journal of Management and Marketing Research , 1 (1), 1-6.

Bass, B. M., & Bass, R. (2009). The Bass Handbook of Leadership: Theory, Research, and  Managerial Applications. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Bertocci, D. I. (2009). Leadership in Organizations: There is a Difference Between Leaders and Managers. Maryland: University Press of America.

Blanken, R. (2016). 8 Common Leadership Styles. Retrieved 2016, from asae: https://www.asaecenter.org/resources/articles/an_magazine/2013/january/8-common leadership-styles

Bonnici, C. A. (2011). Creating a Successful Leadership Style: Principles of Personal Strategic Planning. London: R&L Education.

Bryman, A. (2013). Leadership and organizations. New Jersey: Routledge.

Clements, C., & Washbush, J. B. (1999). The two faces of leadership: considering the dark side of  leader‐follower dynamics. Journal of Workplace Learning , 11 (5), 170-176.

Clinebell, S., Trijonyte, R., & Reardon, J. (2013). Impact Of Leadership Styles On Employee Organizational Commitment. Journal of Service Science (JSS) , 6 (1).

Fairholm, M. R. (2009). Leadership and Organizational Strategy. The Innovation Journal: The Public Sector Innovation Journal , 14 (1), 1-16.

Gallo, C. (2012). What Arnold Schwarzenegger Taught Me About Building A Successful Career.Retrieved 2016, from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2012/10/02/what       arnold-schwarzenegger-taught-me-about-building-a-successful-career/#52344c9e4a09

Hellriegel, D., & John W. Slocum, J. (2011). Organisational Behaviour. New York: Cengage  Learning.

Jong, J. P., & Hartog, D. N. (2007). How leaders influence employees' innovative behaviour. European Journal of Innovation Management , 10 (1), 41-64.

Jr, J. E. (2005). Motivation and Transactional, Charismatic, and Transformational Leadership: A Test of Antecedents. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies , 11 (4), 25-39.

Kitchin, D. (2010). An Introduction to Organisational Behaviour for Managers and Engineers. New Jersey: Routledge.

Laird, S. (2014). Charismatic Leadership Vs Transformational Leadership. Retrieved 2016, from Business Lights: https://businesslightsideas.com/?p=8360

Mullins, L. J. (2011). Essentials of Organisational Behaviour. London: Financial Times Prentice Hall.

Palmer, B., Walls, M., Burgess, Z., & Stough, C. (2001). Emotional intelligence and effective leadership. Leadership & Organization Development Journal , 5-10.

Tellis, G. J. (2006). Disruptive Technology or Visionary Leadership? Journal of Product Innovation Management , 23 (1), 34-38.

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