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Charisma and Charismatic Leadership  

Fenwick W. English

That some of the characteristics of leaders, ancient and modern, involve the ability of a leader to connect with and create an emotional bond with followers is an age-old documented phenomenon. Academic studies of charisma, as a special gift from the gods, have proven disappointing. Finding predictable descriptors about who is or is not such a leader have not revealed the kind of scientific reliability believed to be required to stand the test of context free generalization. Studies about charismatic leaders have shifted from compiling lists of common traits or behaviors, to recognition that situational context and culture in which a leader functions is a more reliable guide to what leaders with charisma do and what lies behind their common agendas throughout history. There are different types of charismatic leaders depending on their motivation and who benefits from their ministrations. Bureaucracies do not require leaders to be charismatic because the authority of bureaucracy is rational and legal, not emotional. Yet the essence of transformational leadership is the emotional bond between leaders and followers. Such a bond is independent of the moral legitimacy of any agenda which units them.

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Anne Hutchinson  

Lynn Westerkamp

Anne Hutchinson engaged a diverse group of powerful men as well as the disenfranchised during the mid-1630s in Boston’s so-called Antinomian Controversy, the name given to the theological battle between John Cotton, who emphasized free grace, and other clerics who focused upon preparation for those seeking salvation. Hutchinson followed Cotton’s position, presented his theology in meetings in her home, and inspired her followers, male and female, to reject pastors opposing Cotton’s position. Hutchinson’s followers included leading men who opposed John Winthrop’s leadership of Massachusetts Bay Colony; this dispute also became an arena where Winthrop reasserted his power. Hutchinson represents the Puritans’ drive for spiritual development within, including her claim of revelation. She is best understood within a transatlantic framework illustrating both the tools of patriarchal oppression and, more importantly, the appeal of Puritan spirituality for women.