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Personality and Charisma in the U.S. Presidency: A Psychological Theory of Leader Effectiveness

Robert J. House, William D. Spangler and James Woycke
Administrative Science Quarterly
Vol. 36, No. 3 (Sep., 1991), pp. 364-396
DOI: 10.2307/2393201
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2393201
Page Count: 33
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Personality and Charisma in the U.S. Presidency: A Psychological Theory of Leader Effectiveness
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Abstract

We argue in this paper that in an age of complexity, change, large enterprises, and nation states, leaders are more important than ever. However, their effectiveness depends on their personality and charisma and not solely on their control over bureaucratic structures. We used a study of U.S. presidents to test a general model of leader effectiveness that includes leader personality characteristics, charisma, crises, age of the institution headed by the leader, and leader effectiveness. Age of the presidency accounted for approximately 20 percent of the variance in presidential needs for power, achievement, and affiliation. Presidential needs and a measure of leader self-restraint in using power, the age of the presidency, and crises accounted for 24 percent of the variance in presidential charisma. Age of the presidency, crises, needs, and charisma together predicted from 25 percent to 66 percent of the variance in five measures of presidential performance. Our study demonstrates that personality and charisma do make a difference.

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