According to Max Weber, an important theoretical father for the modern science of leadership and influence, leaders gain power from traditional, legal-bureaucratic, or charismatic sources. One recent study shows how less charismatic people can effectively wield influence, as noted by researchers from Wharton, Harvard Business School and UNC. The key involves using a story structure, something similar to what we are used to seeing in film and television.
That’s not going to help another experts research on past Presidents. You might not enjoy interacting with Washington, Jefferson, Adams or Madison. Presidents like FDR, JFK, and Clinton raised the bar significantly.
“Charisma was really not very useful in the early presidencies,” he says. “There [weren’t] that many opportunities to deliver big speeches, and most of the major decisions were done behind closed doors.” As a consequence, Simonton says, most of the presidents from America’s early history were not particularly charismatic.
What impact does charisma have on one of the core needs facing organizations?
“There’s nothing about being a charismatic president that makes you more effective as a problem solver,” he says. “All that charisma does is enable you to influence people. As far as actually being effective, there’s no guarantee.”
And yet, Professor Simonton observes that there is some type of relationship between IQ and persuasion.
The relationship between IQ and persuasive influence over other members of one’s group may drop off beyond an IQ of approximately 120. Individuals who are very smart may be less comprehensible to other group members, and this might have a negative impact on their ability to influence those around them. Even if the exceptionally bright individuals are able to target their use of language to the needs of their audience, the complexity of their ideas may be less accessible to listeners with IQs more than one standard deviation lower than their own.