Wednesday, 31 March 2021

StarWars and charisma

The 1977 movie StarWars is underpinned by an interesting phenomenon. Take - for example - the scene when Luke, Ben Kenobi, R2D2 and C3PO are attempting to enter Mos Eisley,  and are stopped by Imperial stormtroopers. The following conversation takes place:
Stormtrooper: How long have you had these droids?
Luke Skywalker: About three or four seasons.
Ben Kenobi: They're for sale if you want them.
Stormtrooper: Let me see your identification.
Ben Kenobi: (waving his hand slowly) You don't need to see his identification.
Stormtrooper: [pauses] We don't need to see his identification.
Ben Kenobi: These aren't the droids you're looking for.
Stormtrooper: These aren't the droids we're looking for.
Ben Kenobi: He can go about his business.
Stormtrooper: You can go about your business.
Ben Kenobi: Move along.
Stormtrooper: [gesturing] Move along! Move along!
[The group enters the spaceport and parks near the cantina.]
Luke Skywalker: I can't understand how we got past those troops. I thought we were dead!
Ben Kenobi: The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded.
The 'Force' can make someone likable: it can create a shared perspective with the stormtrooper, and a vision which makes Ben likable. It can make Ben seem trustworthy. It certainly makes Ben seem articulate, competent, and he exerts a strong influence over the stormtrooper, which definitely outweighs the position that Ben doesn't have. There are also elements of future goals implied, as Ben changes the stormtrooper view. Watch here:

The characteristics of charismatic leadership are (Daft, 2007):
  1. Likableness: Shared perspective and idealised vision make leader likable and an honourable hero worthy of identification and imitation
  2. Trustworthiness: Passionate advocacy by incurring great personal risk and cost
  3. Relation to status quo: Creates an atmosphere of significant change
  4. Future goals: portrays and idealised vision that is highly discrepant from status quo
  5. Articulation: Strong and inspirational articulation of vision and motivation to lead
  6. Competence: Uses unconventional means to transcend the existing order
  7. Behaviour: Unconventional, counter-normative
  8. Influence: Transcends position; personal power based on expertise and respect and admiration for the leader
So I wonder if the 'Force' may be synonymous with charismatic leadership, as there appear to be a number of charismatic markers present. It may be charismatic leadership for a 'good' - or higher - purpose: but it is charismatic leadership. 

Charisma is an interesting leadership style. We can be so easily taken in by it. We WANT to believe. We are humans are credulous (Viciana et al., 2016). I feel that charisma is the smoke and mirrors type of leadership where leaders can be all talk and no trousers. Each time I encounter overly charismatic personalities in politics I become hesitant to believe the rhetoric, and suspend belief until I see concrete action.

It only works if we feel the Force.



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