Leadership is a rare trait - but it can confidently be identified; not least because we are 'programmed' to recognise and respond to leadership.
But, most appointed modern leaders are not leaders; indeed very few indeed are leaders - most are mediocre middle managers over-promoted by committees comprising the same type - and most of the rest are hysterics or psychopaths.
The 'safe choice' nowadays - in a bureaucracy-dominated world - is for mediocre middle managers in committees to over-promote a mediocre middle manager into a leadership position.
This accounts for the majority of the national leaders in the West, including leaders of most major religious denominations, and social systems such as law, education, the police.
These are people who cannot be strategic (but adopt their strategies from others - even paying to have a strategy artificially manufactured by the phony posturings of management consultants, if no other source suggests itself); who cannot decide without a procedure to follow; who cannot take responsibility on themselves.
These are fake leaders who fundamentally can only be led; and who therefore engineer their jobs on the principle of 'teams' and 'teamwork', and 'team-building'; so that they are always following advice and seeking endorsement.
We now live in a world of mutually-interacting middle managers; of followers leading followers, the directionless leading the directionless; of arbitrary meta-procedures generating arbitrary micro-procedures validated by arbitrary committees of arbitrary 'experts'.
It is a world of management-speak, slogans, mission statements, targets, audits - all of which fail to disguise a total lack of leadership based upon an unchangeable psychological inadequacy.
Because, if you are not a leader, then you cannot lead.
For instance, nothing can be done to make the current Prime Minister or the Archbishop of Canterbury into real leaders - they are not leaders but middle managers; they never can be leaders and never will be leaders. Hype and spin do not affect the facts.
We can see this in sport - including my favourite sport of cricket - because sport is one of the few areas of modern life where real leadership still exists; and where real leaders sometimes get appointed to leadership positions.
England have had two real leaders as national cricket coach recently: Duncan Fletcher and Andy Flower (both from Rhodesia, interestingly). In between they had Peter Moores who was an over-promoted middle manager, who was sacked after about a year. Then Moores was re-appointed after Flowers, and Moores has just been sacked after a year, on the excuse of poor results.
In reality, Moores was sacked for the second time because the incoming Andrew Strauss was a successful test cricket captain, and a real leader; and Strauss knows for certain and from personal experience (being 'led' by him) that Moores is just an over-promoted middle manager and cannot ever lead.
Since nothing can be done about what Moores is, he must be got-rid-of regardless of short-term results or insufficient time in the job; simply because he should never have been appointed in the first, or second, place.
Moores cannot help not being a leader, and I always felt sorry for him as someone so obviously out of his depth. Nonetheless Moores was wrong to take-on the job, and double-plus-alpha wrong to do it a second time, when he knew for sure that he as incapable of doing leading.
The sin of the over-promoted middle manager is not in failing to be a leader - that cannot be helped; but in failing to be honest about the fact that his is not a leader, and seeking and accepting a leadership position nonetheless.
It is for this, and for the consequent damage they inevitably do to their organisations, that I blame the current crop of mediocre middle management non-leaders such as Archbishop Justin Welby or his predecessor Rowan Williams; David Cameron or his predecessor Gordon Brown.
But not all modern leaders are middle managers.
When the leaders are 'diversity hires' they are often hysterics (female or male) of the 'it's all about me' variety. For hysterics the job, any job, becomes a schoolgirl psychodrama, a popularity contest about how the leader thinks other people are treating the leader: are they respecting, are they being mean?
This is sometimes called narcissism but that is the wrong name - it is a form of hysteria or histrionics. As the name implies; the leader is an actor, and he perceives the organisation as a performance in which he plays the leading role.
The hysterical leader is not in the job for money, or power, or perks - but for the status. He wants to be admired, loved, he wants adulation - therefore the hysteric tends to surround himself with mediocrities. The hysteric may therefore be loyal to subordinates. So long as they flatter and worship him uncritically; then he will be happy with their performance.
Of course, hysterics inflict terrible damage when made leaders, because they do not care anything about the organisation they lead - the organisation is merely a means to the end of their own glorification.
And some modern leaders are psychopaths - these are the leaders who exploit the organisation for personal gain: for money, power, sexual favours, for the pleasure of tormenting others, to settle old scores... for whatever they most want. Many gang leaders are psychopaths; and psychopaths quite often get into leadership positions in modern society because mediocre middle managers are often impressed by the psychopath's total self-belief and 'dynamism'.
Once in a leadership position, psychopaths engage in fraud and corruption, terrorism and blackmail, flattery and bribery, rule-breaking and making, jury-rigging and gerrymandering... they will do pretty-,much anything which seems expedient in achieving short term goals, and if they believe they can get away with it.
Anger is seldom far from the surface. The psychopath wants to be surrounded by strong allies, not mediocrities - but he will always turn against them (sooner or later). The psychopath is always 'paranoid' and believes he is being persecuted, plotted- and schemed-against (because nothing is ever his fault, and conspiracies explain his failures).
A psychopath may be gifted at telling people what they want to hear - but the psychopath is ruthless, heartless, impulsive, aggressive - his morality is merely a convenient (and therefore labile) rationalisation for his own gratification.
A psychopath in a leadership position is probably even more destructive than an hysteric; because the psychopath will deliberately destroy the organisation he leads, partially or completely, if or when he beliefs this will benefit him in some way that he values.
Therefore, when choosing leaders for an organisation or institution or nation which actually requires leadership; it is important to choose a leader.
A leader might in practise do a good or bad job of leading, but a non-leader will always do a bad job because he can only do a bad job.
1st Samuel Chapter 8?
@hj4 (Give us the link will you?!)
This is not really what I was meaning. When life is serious, leaders are needed - at least, they are needed when you are up-against a leader!
This is the West's problem with Russia - Putin is a natural leader (not, pace the mass media, *merely* a psychopath) consequently he is running rings around the West despite Russia's relative smallness, weakness, poverty, social chaos etc.
(Also, because Putin is 1. a serious albeit flawed Christian and 2. seriously trying to pursue Russian interests abroad; whereas Western leaders - being exemplary representatives of our culture's secular/ self-hating/ suicidality - are half-heartedly pursuing Western interests while also sabotaging Western interests/ promoting alien interests.)
This kind of thing was a problem leading up to the 1939-45 war - Hitler was (inter alia) a real leader, but until Churchill emerged at the last minute, the Allies were 'led' by over-promoted middle managers etc.
Martha Stout argues in her book The Sociopath Next Door that sociopaths are particularly attracted to power and hence leadership positions and that non-sociopaths are often ignorant of and vulnerable to the wiles of sociopaths. Non-sociopaths feel the constraint of conscience, and find it hard to understand those that don't. The result is a disproportion number of sociopaths wind up as leaders of governments, corporations, and so forth.
Putin and Obama are both flawed individuals (who isn't?), but at least Putin operating from a set of clearly identified and understandable national interests. I find Obama harder to understand and hence to predict.
I think the danger with Putin is not that he will attempt to conquer the world. He does not have the resources to do so, and he knows it. The danger is that feckless American middle managers will stumble into a perfectly avoidable war and proceed to lose it.
This trend has pretty much devastated the corporate sector. The "go to" play for 99% of C suite guys is cost cutting. Innovation & product dev play little part in the imaginations of these 'leaders.'
Isn't promotion to leadership a bit illogical or an oxymoron? Real leaders of course don't wait for permission. Some of the point may be to replace understanding and fear of real leadership with the more comfortable pseudo leadership of bureaucrats.
@Leo - Some people differentiate between sociopath - which is a behaviour pattern adopted for expediency (in a world where a selfish strategy thrives, is seldom detected, not punished) ; and psychopath, which is an innate personality type regardless of circumstance.
But either way, socio/ psychopaths certainly do get into positions of power - especially when they are charming. Once in power, people look for reasons and excuses to justify his situation - plus, of course, the sociopath may be highly intelligent and/ or well qualified.
If the sociopath keeps moving between jobs, he can wreck organizations (under the name of reforming them) and move on before the damage has unfolded - this passes for dynamic management in the modern world. I know of someone who went to the very top of the medical profession with this strategy, leaving a string of damaged organizations in his wake.
Having said all this, the bulk of damage in modernity is done by over-promoted middle managers and group-preference-hire hysterics.
@OR - I see what you mean - maybe there is an illogic built-in. However, even in the ancient world, it was usual for leaders to seeks affirmation and support from powerful power blocs such as the church or the military - even when the leader was not chosen by these power blocs.
There used to be held in America a couple centuries ago that the office should seek the man, not the other way round. Grasping self-promotion was seen as unseemly and almost a disqualification for office.
Thinking of my experience with local government, I would prefer finding an honest and virtuous man who was reluctant to seek office and drafting him over choosing someone who seemed too eager for the office.
@Leo - An honest and virtuous man could not be honest and virtuous on the majority of modern bureaucracies.
Then the honest is heart must diligently seek out those environments and jobs where he could be.
"Isn't promotion to leadership a bit illogical or an oxymoron? Real leaders of course don't wait for permission."
Not really. In principle you want to test each person at each given level of the organization to see if they are capable of performing at the next level. There are historical examples of a "natural leader" grabbing the top post without permission and succeeding, but the phenomenon is comparatively rare.
More often the result is disaster. Case in point: Obama. The man was never even a middle manager. He literally never managed anything before he was put in charge of the Executive Branch. When a corrupt, dishonest, hysterical, totally inexperienced, at best marginally intelligent creature is "promoted to leadership" through a dishonest process (voting), what else can you expect but disaster?
"There used to be held in America a couple centuries ago that the office should seek the man, not the other way round. Grasping self-promotion was seen as unseemly and almost a disqualification for office."
There is nothing wrong with ambition. Ambition makes the world go round. If not for ambitious men, we'd still be sitting in caves grooming each other for parasites. It is perfectly normal, and should be acceptable and even encouraged, for intelligent, honest, and capable men to want to run things. The problem is preventing stupid, dishonest, and incompetent men from running things. There is nothing more dangerous than an ambitious, energetic idiot or an ambitious, energetic dishonest man. And as Bruce wrote... that's exactly who we have in charge of pretty much everything these days.
@JP - Of course, we need to recognize that from the perspective of the deep strategic goals of secular Leftism, the election of BHO was not a disaster but a massive, all-round success.
Indeed, from the proximate motivations of the liberal perspective of the great majority of those who voted for or supported him, his time in office has also been a success.
When you are a self-hating, indirectly-suicidal nihilist - as are most people nowadays - then when a leader inflicts fundamental damage on your organization (or nation) this is regarded as a feature, not a bug.
Since Leftism is in essence the destruction of Good, then the stripping away of useful functions - such as economic productivity. education, health care, military readiness or police effectiveness - is regarded as intrinsically favourable to the next step of ideological takeover: a dysfunctional, weak, or absent civil society is desirable in itself for Leftism
The promotion of mediocrity is often referred to as the Peter Principle.
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