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In this paper, the actions/ behaviors that led to the conclusion that Ronald Reagan was a charismatic leader will be evaluated. Generally, charismatic leadership refers to “a leadership style where the leader engages in extraordinary behaviors and exhibits considerable expertise” (Lussier and Achua 46).
Key Leadership Style
Reagan used the charismatic leadership style during his tenure as the president of the US. Charisma is a trait associated with leaders based on their behaviors, expertise, and the situational context. Charismatic leaders often include emotional appeals in their speeches to improve the effectiveness of their communication (Bonnici 63). This involves using symbolism and metaphors to inspire and motivate followers. Charismatic leaders are expected to have a clear ideological vision to encourage radical change among their followers. Additionally, they must demonstrate high standards of honesty to earn the trust of their followers. In this respect, a charismatic leader has to be honest in his actions. Furthermore, “demonstrating courage and conviction enables charismatic leaders to manage follower impression” (Bonnici 69).
Why Reagan was a Charismatic Leader
Reagan demonstrated the traits discussed in the foregoing paragraph in the following ways. To begin with, he was an effective communicator who used symbolism and metaphors in public speeches to inspire the citizens (Greenstein 220-230). For example, he described the USSR as the evil empire. Metaphorically, this description highlighted the moral superiority of democracy and freedom of choice over communism.
Reagan had a clear vision, which he encouraged the citizens to support to promote economic development. His ideological vision was to create a conservative society (Bell 66-74). In this respect, Reagan focused on reducing government expenditure, cutting tax rates, and protecting citizens’ constitutional rights. Thus, his vision was considered as the change that Americans needed to correct the mistakes made by the Carter regime. Reagan earned the trust and respect of the citizens through his candid honesty. He portrayed courageous convictions and focused on pursuing what he and his followers considered to be right. For example, “he took responsibility for the Iran Arms and Contra Aid controversy in 1987, thereby regaining the trust of the pubic” (Bell 66-74).
Unlike most former presidents of the US, Reagan showed his expertise in managing the country through effective delegation of tasks and authority (Greenstein 220-230). He believed that empowering members of his administration would ensure successful implementation of national policies. Thus, he established effective teams that worked independently, thereby improving the effectiveness of his administration.
If I were the President
As the president, I would use transformational leadership to lead the country. A transformational leader is an individual who is capable of guiding, directing, and influencing others to achieve the desired change (Bonnici 78). Unlike charismatic leadership, transformational leadership does not require special traits and behaviors, which some leaders might lack. Transformational leadership would facilitate power sharing through consultations and widespread participation in my administration. This would ensure effective leadership by promoting responsiveness and accountability among administrators.
Having charisma is a fundamental requirement for being a charismatic leader. This involves having charismatic traits such as trust, a clear vision, excellent communication skills, and ability to delegate authority effectively. President Ronald Reagan had these traits and used them to lead the country. As a result, he was considered a charismatic leader who had extraordinary expertise in leadership.
Bell, Mark. “Charismatic Leadership Case Study with Ronald Reagan as Exemplar.” Emerging Leadership Journeys 6.1 (2013): 66-74. Print.
Bonnici, Charles. Creating a Successful Leadership Style, London: Rowman and Littlefield Education, 2011. Print.
Greenstein, Fred. Presidents, their Styles and their Leadership, Princeton: Center for Public Leadership, 2008. Print.
Lussier, Robert and Christopher Achua. Leadership: Theory, Application, and Skill Development, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. Print.