According to Bass and Rigio (2006), charismatic leaders appear during times of instability and turmoil. During such times, the people feel helpless and sometimes disconnected. They are therefore more willing to accept the emerging leaders. Though he may have led to the suffering and death of millions of people, it is not easy to ignore the charismatic leadership of Adolf Hitler. As the rest of the world condemned his actions, his followers did his bidding without question. Followers respond to a charismatic leader with passionate loyalty and they do their work zealously.
Charismatic leaders show their concern towards people. They care about their welfare and this makes the people believe that the leader is on their side. Hitler cared about those who worked under him. In fact, he treated them well. He remembered details about their lives such as their birthdays, something that most leaders fail to do. He was considerate towards his employees to the point that he visited them when they were ill. He paid attention to the people he was talking to and would talk to them without blinking. Because of his concern, people were willing to devote themselves to him (Roberts, 2010).
Hitler was a visionary. He was a determined leader and he worked hard. He was strategic and had a lot of political knowledge. He was promoted from leader of the German state to Commander in Chief of the armed forces and then the Commander in Chief of the army. His goal was to become the generalissimo. He took his work seriously and he would hold meetings early in the morning and extend late into the night. He moved from city to city when conducting business and this made him closer to the people. Hitler believed in having extreme power. His love for his country and the way he talked to the people made the people see him as a charismatic leader rather than a dictator.
Hitler believed that he was a great man who could achieve anything that he had set his eyes on. Sometimes he was a judge and at other times, he was an architect. This is in addition to the military roles he had taken and the fact that he was the leader of his country. He saw himself as one who could deliver his country and take it to places that other leaders had only dreamed of doing. He made bold statements to the people and this made them believe in him (Nizkor, 2004). Before the war fully broke out, he entrusted his followers with most of the duties. He thus instilled in them a sense of pride and they felt useful. They continued serving him in later years even after Hitler started losing his trust in them and called them names. He was strategic and he knew how he would make the people follow him (Mommsen et al, 1998).
It is a risky situation to have a charismatic leader who has bad intentions. Such leaders lead the people to commit acts that they would not necessarily agree to. The same case happened in the sixties when Jim Jones led the people to commit suicide. He too was a charismatic leader and he made the people believe in him. Some had their doubts but they still did as he commanded them to. Though some saw Hitler as a dictator, he made sure that this perception did not remain for long. He was an orator and he used this skill to influence the people. The followers of a charismatic leader follow the beliefs of their leader regardless of what their personal opinion might be because the leader has already proved himself especially during times of crisis (Blank, 2008).
Leadership can lead the people towards places they do not want to go. This is because leaders tend to be very influential people. The Germans believed that Hitler was the one who would lead their country to greatness but he only led them to destruction. He not only destroyed his followers but he had a miserable ending as well. He had led to the death of millions of people. His followers did not question the bad decisions that he made. It seems that one man had the control of more than sixty million people. He did not back down on his decisions and he was resilient in carrying out his mission.
Bass, M. B., & Riggio, E. R. (2006). Transformational leadership. London: Routledge
Blank, R. (2008). German wartime society 1939 – 1945: Politicization, disintegration, and the struggle for survival, volume 9, part 1. London: Oxford University Press
Mommsen, H., Forster, E., Jones, E. L. (1998). The rise and fall of Weimar democracy. Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press Books
Nizkor. (2004). Hitler: As he himself believes to be. Retrieved 26 October 2010, from http://web.archive.org/web/20041128034019/www.nizkor.org/hweb/people/h/hitler-adolf/oss-papers/text/oss-profile-01.html
Roberts, A. (2010). Secrets of leadership: Hitler and Churchill. Retrieved 26 October 2010, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwtwo/hitler_churchill_01.shtml