Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Leadership (MAL)



First Advisor

Daniel Hanson


Charismatic leadership is highly desired by organizations that want to make fast large-scale changes. Followers can be motivated by a leader whose charisma touches them by speech, action, and vision. This leadership style can be used in positive ways to advance the cause of the group or in negative ways that result in harm and destruction. Charismatic leadership only tends to magnify the results. By studying past charismatic leaders who led their followers astray, the possibility of finding common negative traits exists. The history, behaviors, and writings of Adolf Hitler, Jim Jones, and David Koresh were analyzed in this paper. Four negative traits emerged that were shared by all three leaders. Recognition of these traits provides the opportunity for leaders to increase their awareness of negative charisma and to improve ethical leadership for the benefit of the organization.


SC 11.MAL.2008.Olson.J