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Roger Chou, PgMP: What is Charismatic Leadership?

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Roger Chou PgMP

Recently, as U.S. President Obama receives his Noble Prize, people have been talking about his success and call it “Obama phenomenon.” Many people believe, one of the secrets lies in his “Vision Leadership”.

Vision Leadership is also referred to “Charismatic Leadership” in many textbooks of project management.

Leaders have vision. This means, they share a dream and direction that other people want to share and follow. This “leadership vision” goes beyond a mission statement. The vision of leadership permeates the workplace and is manifested in the actions, beliefs, values and goals of your organization’s leaders.

Let’s take President Barack Obama’s election campaign as an example. By offering a dream of a fairer society, he was able to mobilize people to work on his campaign without payment. The campaign was of a door-to-door nature, obtaining 13 million e-mail addresses in the process. From this, more than one billion e-mails were then sent, and in return 4 million people made donations–generating a record US$500 million, with an average donation of US$85.

Why did people respond to this campaign so enthusiastically?

Obama’s campaign promised new possibilities; people were persuaded by this prospect of positive change for the better to help him achieve change. Therefore, for them, responding to and working for Barack Obama meant working for themselves. In helping him realize his dream, they were realizing their own dreams. What they gained was far more valuable than a day’s pay.

At the Institute of Taiwan Project Management, the organization I run, we rely on four key ideas to create and achieve vision leadership:

1. Continually evaluate the business environment and propose a vision.
2. Express this vision through persuasion and encouragement.
3. Gain the trust of those you want to share your vision and engage them in this vision.
4. Lead others in fulfilling this vision.

With this shared zeal, we were able to quickly mobilize 300 volunteer project managers for a flood-relief operation after Typhoon Morakot hit Taiwan in August. Together, we prepared a work breakdown structure (WBS) that helped the relief operation.

Since then, the WBS has been sent to the President’s Office, the Executive Yuan, the Post-Flood Reconstruction Committee, the Domestic Affairs Bureau, the Major Construction Association, the Taiwan Red Cross and other charity organizations.

We are still working on keeping our leadership vision alive, and try to be benefited the most from it. We think, it is fair to say, charismatic leadership is one of the most powerful and mystical phenomena in the world.

Roger Chou, PgMP
PMI R.E.P. 2510 PM-ABC Director

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