Charismatic leaders have consistently been shown to affect followers' performance, motivation, and satisfaction. Yet, what precisely constitutes charisma still remains somewhat enigmatic. So far, research has mainly focused on leader traits, leader behaviors, or the leader follower-relationship, and the subsequent consequences of each on followers' self-concepts. All of these approaches share the notion that leader charisma depends on an explicit interaction between leader and follower. With the present review paper, we extend extant theorizing by arguing that charisma is additionally informed by embodied signals that flow directly from either the leader or the immediate environment. We introduce the embodiment perspective on human perception and describe its utility for theoretically understanding the charismatic effect. Correspondingly, we review studies that show which concrete embodied cues can support the charismatic effect. Finally, we discuss the variety of new theoretical and practical implications that arise from this research and how they can complement existing approaches to charismatic leadership.

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ERIM Top-Core Articles
The Leadership Quarterly
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University

Reh, S., van Quaquebeke, N., & Giessner, S. (2017). The aura of charisma: A review on the embodiment perspective as signaling. The Leadership Quarterly, 28(4), 486–507. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2017.01.001