Cultivating Charisma: Ikeda Daisaku's Self Presentations and Transformational Leadership

Clark Chilson

Abstract


Although social scientific studies of leadership have progressed significantly since the 1960s, discussions of popular religious leaders remain grounded in Weberian ideas on "charisma." Because "charisma" in Weber's writings lacks conceptual clarity and analytical precision, it fails to illuminate how specific understandings of popular leaders develop or how leaders create affective ties with followers. Weber's discussions of charisma, however, can still lead to important questions. Using a Weberian statement on charisma as a departure point, this article argues on the basis of the published diary of Ikeda Daisaku, leader of the Nichiren Buddhist organization Soka Gakkai, that self-representations by a leader can influence how followers understand him or her in a way that cultivates charisma. More specifically it argues that by depicting the mentor-disciple relationship as empowering, Ikeda's diary can serve as a method for transformational leadership that fosters a sense of intimacy and nurtures affective ties with him.

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Copyright (c) 2015 Clark Chilson

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