From Captive Hearts, Captive Minds, (pg 68)
For the ... leader, having charisma is perhaps the most useful during the stage of... formation. It takes a strong-willed and persuasive leader to convince people of a new belief, then gather the newly converted around him as devoted followers. A misinterpretation of the... leader's personal charisma may also foster his follower's belief in his special or messianic qualities.
So we see that charisma is indeed a desirable trait for someone who wishes to attract a following.... Certainly at the time a person is under the sway of charisma, the effect is very real. Yet, in reality, charisma does nothing more than create a certain worshipful reaction to an idealized figure in the mind of the one who is smitten.
In the long run, skills of persuasion (which may or not be charismatic) are more important to the... leader than charisma -- for the power and hold of cults depend on the particular environment shaped by the thought-reform program and control mechanisms, all of which are usually conceptualized by the leader. Thus it is the psychopathology of the leader, not his charisma, that causes the systematic manipulative abuse and the exploitation...
Madeline Landau Tobias and Janja Lalich