Thanks John for the thoughtful post. I recall once we were discussing, in the context of therapists, that interventions must be carefully weighed to discern if the intervention is serving the therapists' needs or the clients'. We're making empirical progress on this front in therapy, with outcome measures to track clients perceptions and alter the modality based on client feedback. This is all to the good.
And I agree that it's not charisma itself that's the issue. Classical psychodynamics teaches us that the narcissist has often suffered a profound wound, and the personality compensates by declaring its specialness. I fear that, deep down in the murk of the unconscious, the charismatic/wounded teacher, to maintain the illusion of being special, pressures the student to maintain them in the guru role. This is obviously true in groups that go off the reservation, so to speak, like the Rajneeshies or followers of Da Free John (Adi Da, etc). These teachers clearly - to my eye at least - have some authentic realization of the non-dual, but ultimately couldn't put the guru role down enough for their students to claim their own light.
You mention the trust issue. I never did see anywhere that Shakyamuni said "you can't trust yourself", but do you recall how often we were told this at ZenWorld? It was practically in the (admittedly delicious) soup. This was a big part of my choice to leave there and go to Asia to work and study, and to seek the Diamond Sangha when I came back. I remain grateful for the training back there that got me started, but once I was ready to move toward claiming sparks of my own light I could not stay. There's a koan about this in the Miscellaneous Koans that goes:
In the sea of Ise
Ten thousand feet down
Lies a single stone
I wish to pick up that stone
without wetting my hands
The top line is a signature....