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Who’s in the lead?

Being THE DECIDER is the coveted power position. Each of these leaders are first or second in command in their nations, or command powerful militias. Some lead via democracy; others do not. Haniya leads Hamas, Chavez leads Venezuela, al Hakim leads the Badr Brigade, al Malaki leads Iraq, Bush leads the U.S., Talibani leads Kurds, al Assad leads Syria, Abbas leads Fata, Siniora leads Lebanon, Nasrallah leads Hezbollah, Putin leads Russia, Ahmadinejad leads Iran, Blair leads the U.K., al Sadr leads a militia, Cheney leads neocons, etc.

When leadership fails: Each man’s personality is different but they can be grouped by psychological trait and style similarities when inappropriately exercising leadership:

  • too much immaturity breeds insecurity = Bush, Assad, Sadr
  • too much coldness breeds imperiousness = Hakim, Cheney, Maliki
  • too much insecurity breeds bullying = Chavez, Ahmadinejad, Putin
  • too much maleability breeds ingratiating behavior = Talibani, Abbas, Blair, Siniora
  • too much inflexibility leads to stubbornness = Haniya, Nasrallah

Leaders want to be liked or to be in control, or both. The traits listed above can singly, or in combination, have unsatisfactory outcomes for followers. Leaders often seek political cover for changing their minds. Saving face is sometimes the most important goal. Leadership may come out as being stubborn when exercising power over others. Avoiding shame and humiliation can drive irrational behaviors such as blustering, demandingness, secretiveness, lying or even violence.

Democracy is not a panacea. It is not a guarantee of good leadership. Followers do not always understand the qualities that make good leaders as they cast their ballots. We most often vote from the gut. Chavez was just reelected. Neither Malaki nor Haniya has not been able to govern for months after their elections. Siniora is propped up in office in a teetering government. Blair is a lame duck, on his way out. Both Putin and Ahmadinejad were elected despite their very hard edges. President Bush occupies the lowest rung of the ladder, according to some of our historians.

The other side of human frailty: The problem for us as followers is that we cannot predict future leaders’ behavior. We shall not know what our leaders will do under pressure until we watch in dismay as it happens. After all they are only human. But we can remain hopeful. It is possible that some of the aforementioned traits can have positive outcomes for followers. People can change. Immaturity could come out as willingness to listen to elder wisdom. Coolness can come out as a lack of neediness. Insecurity can come out as humility. Inflexibility can manifest as sturdiness under fire. Men sometimes tire of violence as they age, or mellow a bit. Perhaps time and the tide of events will be our friends. It would be better, however, to be smart enough to choose leaders wisely at the beginning.

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