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Far-out Charismatic Leaders (and the Trouble They Caused)

American labor leader and co-founder of the United Farm Workers Cesar Chavez speaks at a rally in Coachella, California in the '70s.

Cathy Murphy/Getty Images

Let's face it -- it's fun to follow a leader. A leader who can get you all excited about a vision and the means to achieve it. It's a common human instinct. But while leaders can be effective without being charismatic, possessing charisma -- that winning combo of charm, passion and persuasiveness -- can be a huge asset. It's awfully hard to resist a charismatic person [source: Alain]. Take Cesar Chavez. The labor and civil rights activist was a thoughtful speaker, but it was his passion when speaking, plus an ability to relate to ordinary people -- his charisma -- that made so many flock to his cause [source: The Daily Beast].

Of course, charisma isn't always a positive thing. Some charismatic leaders can get people to do some pretty awful things. Remember how Jim Jones got 900 members of his People's Temple to commit mass suicide in the jungles of Guyana [source: Gritz]? Here are some of the most charismatic leaders in history -- the good, the bad and the ugly.

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