I have been subconsciously applying various leadership theory to my internship for most of my time here, I believe. With Lincoln being such a dynamic place to work, with varying structures of organization and leader/follower relationships, there is a lot to examine as it relates to application of studied leadership theories. In one of my previous reflections I spent time contemplating the varying degrees of leadership at each level internally within Lincoln, and how different teams operate from an individual or group level. With that said, I have noticed how charisma and charismatic leadership plays a role in different team functions from a managerial perspective.
From my first days at Lincoln this summer, despite having served as an intern here last summer, I noticed a new kind of charismatic leadership from the team VP, Lisa Rickner. Despite her initially seeming to me as intimidating, in her interactions with her team, she is both understanding and friendly. In being charged with forming this newer, small Practice Management team at such a large financial services company, Lisa can cultivate a kind of emotional attachment to the formation of the new team. Often times, in a classic underdog tale, whether it be in sports, business, or any human-interest story really, it is the chip on the shoulder or feeling of coming from behind that can be cultivated by the team leaders. In a sports context, this is often done by a coach or team captain- someone who has the title, respect, and can use their power to connect with their team emotionally to accomplish a stated vision. In terms of my Practice Management team, specifically with my manager Lisa, I picked up on some of the signs of charisma, including maintaining attention, conjuring up emotion, as a coach does with a sports team or fans, and bringing to life a vision. For Lisa, it is her vision of a collaborative, strong, productive team that is built from the ground up that can ultimately contribute to best practices for the firm.
Lisa’s performance as a manager, despite her not physically being here at times due to travelling and expanding the team on a national level, is nothing short of charismatic. Her constant reminding to the team of her end goals, emotional understanding and interest in the personal life of others, and making the team feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves can all be attributed to the traits of charismatic leadership. While those are some of the more straightforward or direct influences of charisma on the Practice Management team, I am excited to see potentially how more subtle influences impact the performance and overall existence of the team.
Charisma and its effects can be placed in a unique follower perspective, as it only will function positively as a result of advanced followership, contextual factors, as well as more indirect ticks from leaders. At its end, the purist form of charismatic leadership can be boiled down to this: to cultivate a sense of “I can do this” within followers using emotion. Although Lisa is a fantastic charismatic leader, employing all the signals of charisma to generate productivity among consultants, I see this charismatic style even higher up on the Lincoln organizational charts to cultivate a strong organization wide message.
I am excited to see how Lisa’s leadership style changes over the course of the summer, and if the followership of the team, including myself, impacts the effectiveness of charisma at any point.