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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : The Leadership Quarterly, Volume 22, Issue 1, February 2011, Pages 22–32
The purpose of the paper is to investigate whether people consider someone a charismatic speaker because they are deploying the generic features commonly identified as being associated with charismatic oratory in the literature, or whether the attribution of charisma is informed by factors which vary across different settings. Video-taped extracts from speeches given by seven people widely regarded as influential thought leaders – Kenneth Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Daniel Goleman, Gary Hamel, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Tom Peters and Peter Senge – were shown to different audiences. After viewing each extract they rated the extent to which they found the speaker charismatic or non-charismatic and why. In addition, the whole speeches and focal messages were content analysed for the presence a number of factors – delivery, rhetorical techniques, abstraction and inclusion – identified in the previous literature as underpinning charismatic oratory. When the speeches are taken as a whole the speakers rated as charismatic differed significantly from their non-charismatic counterparts only in terms of delivery. For focal sentences delivery remains significant but in addition the speakers rated as charismatic use a higher proportion of rhetorical techniques. This has important implications for theory and practice that are elaborated.
Oratory is viewed as a critical but elusive leadership skill which significantly influences followers' perceptions of leaders, particularly when there is little or no personal contact between them (Shamir, 1995). There are at least two reasons for the importance of live oratory. The first is that public speaking is a very effective medium for persuading, motivating, inspiring, building trust and connecting emotionally with a range of audiences within organizations (Awamleh and Gardner, 1999, Conger, 1991, Morgan, 2001 and Niadoo and Lord, 2008). The second is that a leader's oratorical skill is often viewed as a proxy measure of their broader abilities and it is therefore unlikely that anyone could achieve or sustain a senior position without being a technically proficient orator (Atkinson, 1984a and Conger, 1991). Indeed, the commentaries of speeches made during the US Presidential election in 2008 frequently allude to this link (Nightingale, 2008, The Washington Times, 2008 and Zeleny, 2008). The ability of a leader to captivate and energize an audience through effective and powerful public oratory has been seen as a special ability that requires the mastery of a number of key techniques at least since the Greeks (Dobson, 1919 and Kennedy, 1963). Consequently, amongst both leadership training professionals and academic researchers there is a tendency to view speaker effectiveness, and charismatic oratory in particular, as involving the use of a set of common practices across different speakers and settings. Management training courses often equate effective oratory with a single dynamic charismatic style (e.g., Frese, Beimel & Schoenborn, 2003). Much prior research has been founded on experimental studies which often begin with definitions of charismatic and non-charismatic oratory that assume a common style across different speakers, audiences and contexts (e.g., Awamleh and Gardner, 1999, Howell and Frost, 1989 and Kirkpatrick and Locke, 1996). However, there is evidence to suggest that participants in such studies cannot always distinguish between ‘pre-defined’ charismatic and non-charismatic speaking styles (Kirkpatrick & Locke, 1996). This raises serious questions about the extent to which perceptions of speaker charisma are in fact informed by a set of common factors which do not vary across speakers and contexts. In this paper we therefore ask whether people consider someone a charismatic speaker because they are deploying the generic features commonly identified as being associated with charismatic oratory in the literature, or whether the attribution of charisma is informed by factors which vary across different settings. We explore this issue by focusing on a group of successful and very prominent thought leaders who build and sustain follower commitment to their ideas through writing best-selling management books and giving public speeches on the international lecture circuit. In the context of the general issue which forms the basis of this article they are a particularly pertinent group to focus on since they are widely considered to be very effective and charismatic speakers and their live talks are critical to their ability to build and sustain followers (Baur, 1994, Clark and Salaman, 1996, Clark and Salaman, 1998 and Huczynski, 1993; Jackson, 2001 and Jackson, 2002). To a large extent the continuing authority and legitimacy of their ideas is intimately linked to their personal communication and impression management abilities (Conger and Kanungo, 1988, Gardner and Avolio, 1998, Greatbatch and Clark, 2003 and Greatbatch and Clark, 2005). Along with certain kinds of political and religious leaders, they are almost a pure form of what has been termed “rhetorical leadership” (Dorsey, 2002, Tulis, 1987 and Willner, 1984). In this respect they are leadership orators par excellence. That is their relationship with their followers is based upon the continuing communication of a message which in turn ‘relies for its authorization upon the individual who developed and popularized it’ (Huczynski, 1993: 38). They are therefore thought leaders in the sense that they exercise ‘a profound influence on followers by the strength of their personal abilities’ particularly via their oratory (House & Baetz, 1979, p. 399). The article is structured as follows. We begin with a discussion of the key factors that have been identified as underpinning effective/charismatic oratory. We then discuss our methods and results before identifying the ways in which the paper contributes to theory and practice.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In this paper we have examined how speakers who were attributed as charismatic or non-charismatic by audience members differed in their use of a range of elements that have been identified as underpinning charismatic oratory. When the speeches from which the segments were extracted are taken as a whole, the speakers rated as charismatic differ significantly from their non-charismatic counterparts only in terms of delivery. When we examine all focal sentences within these speeches (which were exemplified in the clips) delivery remains significant but in addition the speakers rated as charismatic use a higher proportion of rhetorical techniques associated with persuasive oratory. It is therefore the verbal and non-verbal practices used to package and deliver their messages rather than the content of their speeches that differentiate charismatic from non-charismatic speakers in this context. In this respect the present study confirms the findings of prior work that has emphasized the importance of strong delivery over content (Heritage and Greatbatch, 1986, Howell and Frost, 1989, Holladay and Coombs, 1994, Burgoon et al., 1990 and Awamleh and Gardner, 1999). Whilst we find significant differences between speakers rated as charismatic and non-charismatic in terms of some of the features they used, audience ratings of the different speakers suggest a more mixed view. Whilst at a general level 64% of audience members who provided comments rated Hamel, Kanter and Peters as unambiguously charismatic, the remaining 36% of audience members rated some elements of these speakers' performances negatively. This indicates that even though there is broad consensus that they are effective not every audience member reacts wholly positively to every aspect of a performance from a speaker who is rated generally as charismatic. Sub-elements of a speaker's performance impact on audience members differently. For example, some people rate a speaker such as Peters, who employs a high level of stress, positively whilst others do not. The great majority rated Kanter's intonation positive whilst a small number did not. The notion that a single style of charisma can be identified and that it is universally well-received is therefore problematic. In addition, these findings suggest that whilst charisma may be associated with a certain threshold of stress in delivery and the use of rhetorical formats when delivering key messages, there may be a limit to the level of dynamism that some people find acceptable. This may account for the more mixed evaluations of Peters reported in Table 1. Of the three charismatic speakers Peters exhibited the most exaggerated speaking style with dramatic shifts in intonation and vigorous facial gestures and body movements. Whilst not going to the extremes of Peters, Hamel also adopted a dynamic style. For some people there may be a limit to the levels of energy they find acceptable in a speaker. Thus charismatic speaking involves a minimum level of vigour but this has an upper limit with levels of acceptance varying across audience members and contexts in ways which have yet to be systematically examined. As we have seen, experimental studies, which involve distinctions between charismatic and non-charismatic oratory, are based on the assumption that charismatic oratory is a single ‘style’, which can be readily distinguished from non-charismatic oratory. Our research suggests that the situation is more complicated than this as Kirkpatrick and Locke (1996) speculated in the discussion of their findings. The content and delivery of the compressed charismatic speeches delivered by actors in experimental studies tend to be similar to those passages we have identified as projecting focal messages (see Awamleh and Gardner, 1999, Holladay and Coombs, 1993, Holladay and Coombs, 1994 and Kirkpatrick and Locke, 1996). They are built around a series of focal assertions each of which is delivered with a high level of stress. However, as we have seen, speakers who are widely characterised as highly effective, even charismatic, may use varying levels of pitch and volume when delivering such messages and this can have important implications for the ways in which different individuals and groups perceive their oratorical performances, despite the fact that in other respects the speakers use similar presentational techniques. It is noteworthy that experimental studies also tend to ignore background assertions, which lead up to focal assertions, and thus individual variations which could well inform audience members' reactions to the focal assertions that follow them. Our study lends further support to the proposal that charismatic oratory may comprise different styles in different contexts, and that individual variations between speakers must also be taken into account, as these may be key to understanding the reactions of audiences and attributions of charisma. This point has important implications for the future design and conduct of research in the area. Awamleh and Gardner (1999: 363), drawing on Campbell and Stanley (1963), note ‘that the artificial nature of many laboratory experiments constitutes a potential threat to external validity, and hence the generalizability of results’. Wofford (1999) has responded to such concerns by arguing that laboratory experiments have an advantage over field studies in that ‘they can help improve construct validity by isolating and using as treatments only charismatic behaviours and characteristics’ (p. 525). In contrast, the results of the present study show that creating “pure” constructs of charismatic oratory free from “nuisance variables” results in too narrow an understanding of what might constitute charismatic oratory. In the future studies should be designed in ways that accommodate the possibility that different audience members and social groups may regard different styles of speaking as more or less charismatic depending on, for example, the purposes of speeches and the contexts in which they are delivered. Several studies have already alluded to the possibility that the elements associated with charismatic oratory may vary across cultures (Bryman, 1992 and Den Hartog and Verburg, 1997). However, subsequent research has failed to elaborate whether this is the case. More specifically, an audience to any speech is not a single undifferentiated entity but is constituted by individuals who may vary in terms of their levels of familiarity, affiliation and attention to the messages being conveyed. These, and other factors, mean that audience members might differ significantly from one another in ways that are relevant to the speech that is being witnessed. Researchers cannot therefore assume that perceptions of charismatic oratory are similarly shared across audience members and contexts. It is only by repeatedly studying people's actual reactions to naturally occurring speeches in different contexts that the range of speaking styles that are deemed charismatic will be identified and how these in turn are influenced by different settings and social contexts. Finally and related to this last point, the findings also have several important implications for training leaders in charismatic oratory. Training to enhance charismatic oratorical skills has been called for by Barling, Weber and Kelloway (1996). Taking-up this challenge Frese, Beimel and Schoenborn (2003) used the instructions in Howell and Frost's (1989) study as the basis of an action research training programme for two groups of managers. They report that such training significantly improved participants' ability to deploy behaviours associated with this characterization of inspiration speaking. However, the present findings caution against training leaders in a style of speaking that emphasizes the continuous use of “high stress” delivery across the whole speech. As we have shown above, the speakers we studied varied their stress, as well as the other factors we examined, within a speech and increased it when they sought to demarcate key messages from surrounding talk. When naturally occurring speeches are examined speakers' levels of stress ebb and flow at different points in their speeches. What is critical is that trainers working in the area of oratorical skills appreciate that a speech is a dynamic entity and so teach people how to modulate their presentational approach in relation to the projection of different kinds of messages at various points in the speech. Furthermore, they need to move away from a speaker-centred training approach to one that takes account of the audience and context. This mirrors the observation that leadership research has failed to satisfactorily examine the role of followers in the leadership process (Howell and Shamir, 2005). Further research and training needs to give greater emphasis to the ways in which a speech may have to be modified to meet varying contextual and audience factors in order to be perceived as effective and charismatic. The combinations of different factors that underpin the projection of a speech may therefore vary in the extent of their effectiveness. Developing a more nuanced understanding of how these factors relate to one another will enable leaders to be trained so that they articulate their messages in ways that significantly increase their ability to capture the attention of different audiences and be rated as effective and charismatic orators.