Presidential Charismatic Leadership: Exploring the Rhetoric of Social Change

Student Co-author

CGU Graduate

Document Type



Behavioral and Organizational Sciences (CGU)

Publication Date



Organization Development | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Psychology


Fiol, Harris and House [(1999). Charismatic leadership: Strategies for effecting social change. Leadership Quarterly, 10, 449–482] provide support for the theory that charismatic leaders introduce social change by employing communication targeted at changing followers' values in a temporal sequence: frame-breaking (phase 1), frame-moving (phase 2), and frame-realigning (phase 3). Using computerized content analysis, the current study extended these findings by testing additional communication tactics in temporal sequence on a larger sample of US presidential speeches with an expanded presidential charisma measure. Compared to non-charismatic leaders, charismatic leaders emphasized their similarity to followers in phase 1 and used negation in phase 2. Both leadership types used increasingly active and tangible language as they moved from phase 1 to 2 to 3. Across phases, charismatic leaders communicated with imagery and stressed inclusion, while referring less to conceptual thoughts and inspiration. A theoretical model of social identity framing is introduced to provide additional insight into how leaders communicate for social change.

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© 2008 Elsevier Inc