The definition of charismatic leadership is the method of encouraging behaviors in others by communication, persuasion and force of personality. The disappearance of the motivating and successful aviation leader Amelia Earhart shook the lives of everyone living in the 1930’s. As the first female aviator to fly across the Atlantic Ocean and bestselling author, she was loved by everyone. She developed a passion for aviation at a young age and inspired the lives of many others. During a time where women were discriminated against, she never lost faith. She had charisma. The kind Amelia Earhart was a strong and encouraging leader. She had a positive and determined personality that didn’t stop her from doing anything, no matter the circumstances. She made sure she accomplished as much as she could and did this by demonstrating charismatic leadership.
Amelia Earhart didn’t grow up living the average childhood life. Her role as a charismatic leader started July 24, 1887 when she was born in Atchison, Kansas. She was raised by her mother Amelia Otis and her father Edwin Earhart who was addicted to alcohol. He also struggled with providing financial stability for his family. When things became too much to handle, Amy would send Earhart and her sister to live with her grandparents. They were always moving around so that Otis could find employment, forcing Earhart and her sister to transfer from school to school. It was very hard for her to focus being as though they were always traveling however, she always found time to focus and excel in her academics. Her ability to disregard her family situations was a strength of her charismatic leadership. According to House, the personality characteristics of a charismatic leader include being dominant and having a strong sense of one’s moral values.
Charismatic leaders often demonstrate different types of behaviors. They are viewed as strong role models for their beliefs. After Amelia graduated high school, she spent a vacation visiting her sister in Toronto, Canada. After seeing many hurt soldiers returning from World War 1, she volunteered to be a nurse’s aide for the Red Cross. She met many wounded pilots and began to develop a strong love for aviation. She spent most of her free time watching the Royal Flying Corps practicing at a nearby airfield. She was beginning to develop her love for aviation. At an air show in the summer of 1920, Earhart took a plane ride that “transformed her life”. At this moment Earhart set a clear ideological goal stating that she was going to become a pilot and was determined to accomplish it. For a year straight she worked she worked a variety jobs starting photographer to truck driver so that she could earn enough money to take flight lessons. This was not an easy year for her but she did not lose faith, if she wasn’t working she spent her free time learning new things at the airfield.
The start of Earhart’s impeccable journey of leadership started when she purchased her first plane, a Kinner Airster biplane painted bright yellow. This immediately increased her confidence as she was one step closer to reaching her goal. October 22, 1922, Amelia made her first official accomplishment in aviation. She flew her plane to 14,000 feet setting the world record for highest altitude flown for female pilots. While maintaining several jobs she was finally issued her pilots license being the 16th woman to do so. She set a strong role model for women, and many others (followers) started looking up to her. It increased their sense of competence and self-efficiency and helped them believe that anything is possible. However, as soon as things seemed as they were going well, they collapsed. By 1924, the inheritance money from her mother that her family was living from was gone and she was forced to sell her plane. She then moved to Boston and studied at Columbia University but after a few moths in was forced to drop out due to limited finances. She found employment as a teacher and later as a social worker. Through all these complications, Amelia never gave up on her passion for aviation. Her desire t influence other was one of her strengths of leadership.
After working as a social worker for 3 years, Amelia became a member of the American Aeronautical Society in Boston. She became a sales representative for Kinner airplanes in the Boston area while writing articles promoting flying and influencing women to become more involved in aviation. People began to become familiar with her loving personality. April 1928, she received a call asking if she wanted to fly across the Atlantic. Without a doubt she flew to New York to be interviewed, where she found out that she would just be passenger. Around this time period a flight like this was “too dangerous” for women. She was disappointed but she did not let this stop her journey. Months later she took off on a flight from Trepassey Harbor accompanied by pilot Wilmur Stultz. It was 20 hours and 40 minutes later into the flight that’s they landed in United Kingdom. Due to the weather Stultz took all flight controls throughout the flight and Earhart said she felt as though she was “just a baggage like a sack of potatoes” she then added, “Maybe some day I’ll try it alone.” She had confidence in herself and did not let this deteriate her. Following this experience, she wrote a book entitled “20 hrs. and 40 Min” this book was about her aviation experience thus far and her translatic flight. The book that she wrote really allowed her followers to gain sense of self confidence and self-efficacy being able to fight through feminism. She gained publicity from fashion designers and gained many endorsements. This was such a remarkable flight that when they returned to the United States they were greeted by a parade and a reception at the White House. The press assigned Earhart as “Lady Lindy” a nickname after “Lucky Lind’ for Lindbergh. . The impact of this behavior increased her followers and made them want to meet these expectations. (Avolio and Gibbons, 1988).
May 20, 1932 Earhart became the first women to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. They took off in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland. Immediately after they took off, the flight ran into turbulence and encountered thick clouds and ice on the wings. After 12 hours the conditions got worse and the plane began to experience mechanical issues. She immediately landed the plane in fears of her safety. This could be a weakness to her followers, because it may be her “giving up”. However, she was still honored with a gold medal from the National Geographic Society, the Distinguished Flying Cross from the U.S. Congress; and the Cross of the Knight of the Legion. This was only the beginning of her accomplishments. She received several rewards for how successful she is in her journey this far.
Earhart attempted to be the first person to circumnavigate the earth around the equator but instead she disappeared and was never found. She was with pilot Fred Noonan, they had a plan to fly to Howland Island between Hawaii and Australia. Their flight plan was very well thought out, they had emergency precautions and communication strategies. July 2, 1937 Earhart reported her position that seemed to be going in the opposite direction of their flight plan, and that was the last any one has heard from them. President D. Roosevelt spent approximately 4 million on a 2-year rescue mission.
In conclusion, the events leading up to Amelia Earhart’s accomplishments made her into charismatic leader that she was. Amelia Earhart inspired many people throughout her time. She carried herself as a strong aviator and wanted equality for all women and wouldn’t give up until she got it. She trusted herself to do what no women in history has ever done, fly across the Atlantic Ocean. She inspired many people to follow their dreams no matter what and to not let anything stop them. Her focus was to become a pilot and she accomplished it. Charismatic leaders always stay true to themselves and make sure they accomplish their goals.