Leaders’ inspirational appeal increases post-mortem (new study)

“There is a great deal of interest in understanding what leaders can do to increase their charisma.” And a radical new concept on charisma-enhancement is presented in The Leadership Quarterly, Sept. 2016 – sadly for aspiring leaders, it involves their death.

“In the present research, we seek to advance our understanding of the nature and origins of charisma. We do this by examining the impact of a person’s death on observers’ inclination to see them as charismatic. We argue that following a person’s death, people will perceive a stronger connection between an individual and the social groups that they belong to, and that this can increase their charismatic appeal.”

An experimental research project involving 400 US adults, and carried out using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk facility, asked questions about the charismatic appeal of an inspirational (ex)leader – coming to the following conclusion (with some bad news for Woody Allen) :


see: Steffens, N.K., et al., Dying for charisma: Leaders’ inspirational appeal increases post-mortem, in The Leadership Quarterly, online advance publication, Sept. 2016.

Note: Charisma is quite difficult to define – and unfortunately Improbable has not been able to find a definition in the paper.