Often a leader is assumed to be all-powerful. As a leader, we exercise power, authority and influence in the ways that do harm. How? A leader may or may not hold a formal position of authority; position is not the point. Rather, it is the leader as protagonist that matters. People in a state of nature are not, in usual sense of the word “good”. This is not to insist that people are bad but rather that relied on to behave well. Leaders are like everyone else. They-we- behave badly for different reasons, and they-we-behave badly different ways. A city in which corruption has long been tolerated is more likely to be defrauded by it elected officials and string tradition of good government.
Why do leaders behave badly then? The leaders’ traits and character play more important role in their behaviors. Traits once considered of paramount importance such as intelligence, are viewed as having fuzzy and imprecise denotations. It is now widely agreed that to emphasize the leaders. Traits are to emphasize other important variables, such as the situation, the nature of the task at hand of course the followers. Why people behave the way they do. Greed-Greedy leaders crave more-more success, more money, more power or more whatever, such as sex. This is not to say that all leaders who aspire to have more are bad. In some measure, rewards such as money and power are simply the benefits expected from hard work. Rather, when leaders’ appetite for more is excessive, it is likely to intrude on their capacity to exercise leadership for the common good. When leaders are unwilling or unable to control their desire for more bad leadership will be the result. Greed is likely to be most pernicious when in entails a hunger for power.
Unlike traits which are viewed as amenable to change, character is more permanent condition, fundamental and fixed. Character is embedded in who we are; it is who we are. As the word is commonly used, we also presume that to know a person’s character is to know his or her moral compass. The connection between character and leadership is easiest to make an extreme. Unless followers are pressured or coerced into going along with bad leaders, they resist them right? Wrong? We know full well that bad leaders of various kinds abound that their followers usually follow, even when they know that their leaders are misguided or malevolent. Why? The answer to this question matters, because we can’t expect to reduce the number of bad leaders unless, we reduce the number of bad followers. Followers have their most basic human needs which attract them to follow bad leaders.
The quest for safety, for self-preservation, is arguably the strongest of our basic needs.
Before anything else, we seek food, shelter, and protection from harm. Followers follow bad leaders not only because of their individual need for safety, simplicity and certainty but also because of the needs of the group. Group[s go along with bad leaders often provide important benefits. Followers’ dedications to bad leaders are very bad, as opposed to only somewhat bad. Followers who knowingly, deliberately commit themselves to bad leaders are themselves bad. Bad leadership falls into two categories; bad as in ineffective and bad as an unethical ineffective leadership fails to produce the desired change. For reasons that include missing traits, weak skills, strategies badly conceived, and tactics badly employed, ineffective leadership falls shorts of in intention. Unethical leadership fails to distinguish between right and wrong including corruption, callous, and evil acts.
This is a very big fact that without followers, nothing happens, including bad leadership. Together leaders and followers can bring out the best in people, as in say, the civil rights movement; or they can amplify what’s worse in people and leaver murder and mayhem in their wake. Obviously this finding has moral implications. Leaders and follower share responsibility for leadership, bad as well as good. Finger pointing- “He did it!” – will no longer wash. None of us is off the hook. We cannot stop or slow bad leadership by changing human nature. No amount of preaching or sermonizing, no exhortation to virtuous conduct, uplifting thoughts, are wholesome habits will obviate the fact that even though our behaviors may change, our nature is constant. Rather, it is that leaders are likely to change only when they decide it’s in their interest to do so. Bad leaders will not be good leaders unless they calculate the cost of bad leadership as greater than the costs of good leadership. Bad leadership will not, cannot, be stopped or slowed unless followers take responsibility for rewarding the good leaders and penalizing the bad ones.