THE MOMENT he walked into the room, a hush descended. Everybody was mesmerised and they could not stop staring at him. He had some sort of aura that could not be defined. He didn't even have to speak but people gathered around him like flies and yet he seemed totally unconcerned and down to earth.
Don't you identify certain individuals who fit the above description? What is so special about some people? Why do they radiate all the charisma, while others remain in the background? What makes them tick? Such thoughts have always baffled people.
Social psychologists have long been trying to establish a link between charisma and leadership qualities. The answer they have come up with is thought provoking and gives new insight. Charisma according to them resides in the minds of the followers and not in the traits of the leader. It is the viewer or the follower who makes and sustains the leader through their faith, encouragement and support for him.
A striking person exudes magnetism at first sight. But charisma in its true sense lasts only if he continues being charismatic in the eyes of his admirers through deeds well done and admired. Illusions fade with time. But true charisma lasts only through integrity that has seen the test of time. This distinction duly deserved comes from the followers. For the admiration radiating from the follower glows on the leader that sets him apart with an aura. This is true charisma, endorse social psychologists.
Thus it is we who make the leader. `It is our judgement of the competitor's abilities that invests an individual with charismatic power, rather than the abilities themselves. So when we seek for charismatic proof we should scan the audience and not the leader himself,' says social psychologists.
When a charismatic person enters the room, a hush descends, and people shift to make space for him. His presence and the crowd's stance tell you that he is no ordinary person. He stands tall, as all the others tend to bow or stoop before him. His presence lights up the room. Charismatic people tend to radiate energy, power, love etc and yet this charisma comes from the audience in response to their object of adoration.
Charismatic supremacy, therefore says social psychologists, is `social property invested in the highly regarded or honoured individual by others and preserved by that individual with constant reinforcement of those qualities most admired.'We refer to these people as pillars of strength, stalwarts, champions etc. We respect them for their worth, aware that they are leaders who contribute selflessly.
But equally vital are our support, love and regard, which nourish them. It is we who bring out their best. Without our faith, belief and encouragement there would be no leaders. For they need us as we need them.
Illustrations by Devaran
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