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Resoundingly Human

Nov 5, 2021

We’ve all seen movies that contain a pivotal moment when characters are united in a cause or moved to action, all as the result of an impassioned speech from a leading character.

The music builds as the words of this character flow forth, everyone’s eyes are fixed on them until finally there is a collective cheer as they come together to tackle a challenge, or their spirits are reignited for a seemingly lost cause, or they plunge headfirst into battle or some other dangerous endeavor, with no other incentive than these persuasive words.

But again, that’s the movies. Can the words of a charismatic leader really carry that much weight in real life, and serve as their own incentive (separate of any personal or financial gain)?

Joining me for this episode is Christian Zehnder with the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, whose study, “Just Words? Just Speeches?” On the Economic Value of Charismatic Leadership, has been selected for publication in the INFORMS journal Management Science. We’ll explore just how much weight charisma carries in the real world, especially in a business setting when sometimes words are the only incentives available.