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Saturday, November 06, 2004

Leadership qualities...

Thank you to all of you who participated in a lively discussion on the question whether Hitler should be considered a leader. Based on the recent and the past responses to the mini-poll I conducted, there is a consensus that Hitler is (or was) a leader, and an exceptionally skillful one at that. Most people take leadership to be that quality which casts vision and attract followers. Chris Edwards eloquently defines "leader as a person whom men willingly give power to and follow." and he contrasts a leader with a "politician as someone who merely administrates for the public (or claims to do so). Under these conditions, most politicians are not leaders because they are tasked with organization, rather than followed or believed in hopes of achieving something new and better (as those who follow a leader see it)."

Earlier on, I pondered about this in relation to managers in business situations (although in my earlier post, I spoke of one particular manager, mine, my concerns relate to the whole aspect of management and leadership in business organizations). In so doing, I suggested that leadership ought not to be defined as morally neutral, and that it has moral implications. If that were the case, I postulated
Leadership, then, is a matter of not just what a person does, but who that person is. It is that person’s leadership qualities that flow out of him or her in the way that person thinks, carries out his/her day-to-day activities, in the way that person interacts with the people around him/her. In fact, one can even say that leadership is not about certain character traits or qualities, but it is itself a character trait, such as honesty, loyalty and courage are character traits. Therefore, we cannot say of a person that he or she is a “bad leader”. Embedded within the definition of leadership are the character virtues and ethical standards that prevent the appendage of “bad” or “evil”. For instance, Hitler cannot be considered a bad leader, for if he were a bad leader, it means that he is no leader at all. He can be called a tyrant, a dictator, a conqueror, but he does not belong in the class of leaders.
What do you think of such a view of leadership?