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What Doth a Leader Make?

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What Doth a Leader Make?

How come a leader becomes a leader? In this article, we are not interested in the historical process but in the answer to the twin questions: what qualifies one to be a leader and why do people elect someone specific to be a leader. The immediately evident response would be that the leader addresses or is judged by his voters to be capable of addressing their needs. These could be economic needs, psychological needs, or moral needs. In all these cases, the needs are judged to be serious enough as to threaten acceptable existence (emphasis on the word "acceptable"). Mere survival is rarely at risk (famine, war, plague). On the contrary, people are mostly willing to sacrifice their genetic and biological survival on the altar of acceptable existence. To be acceptable, life must be honourable. To be honourable, certain conditions (commonly known as "rights") must be fulfilled and upheld. No life can be honourable without food and shelter (property rights), personal autonomy (as safeguarded by freedoms), security, respect (as expressed through human rights) and influence upon the future (civil rights). In the absence of even one of these elements, people tend to gradually become convinced that their lives are not worth living. They become mutinous and try to restore the "honourable equilibrium". They seek food and shelter by inventing new technologies and by implementing them in a bid to control nature and other, human, factors. They rebel against any massive breach of their freedoms : free speech has provoked more bloodshed than it has ever prevented. The seek security : they legislate and create law enforcement agencies and form an army. Above all, people are concerned with being respected and with influencing their terms of existence, present and future. The two may be linked : the more able a person is to influence his environment, to mould it - the more respected he is by others. Leaders are perceived to be possessed of qualities conducive to the success of such battles of restoration. Some signal that the leader emits keeps telling his followers : I can increase your chances to win the war that you are waging in order to find food and shelter / respect / personal autonomy / security / an enhanced ability to influence your future.

But WHAT is this signal? What information does it carry with it? How is it received and deciphered by those led? And how, exactly, does it influence their decision making processes?

The signal is, probably, a resonance. The sum total of the information emanating from the leader, the air exuded by him, the data relevant to him and which is explicitly provided or available - must resonate in strong correlation with the situation. The leader must not only resonate with the world around him - but also with the world that he promises to usher. Modes, fashions, buzzwords, fads, beliefs, hopes, fears, hates and loves, plans, other information, a vision - all must be neatly incorporated in this human package. A leader is a shorthand version of the world in which he operates, a map of his times, the harmony (if not the melody) upon which those led by him can improvise. They must see in him all the principles of their lives: grievances, agreements, disagreements, anger, deceit, conceit, myths and facts, interpretation, compatibility, guilt, paranoia, illusions and delusions (to mention but a few) - all wrapped (or warped) into one neat parcel. It should not be taken to mean that the leader must be an average person - but he must contain the average person in him, lock stock and barrel. His voice must mirror the multitude of voices on the amplitude of which he was swept to power. This ability of his, to be and not to be, to vacate himself, to become the conduit of other people's experiences and existence - is the first element of the leadership signal. It is oriented to the past and to the present.

The second element is what makes the leader distinct. Again, it is a resonance. The leader must be perceived to resonate in perfect harmony with a vision of the future, which the people who elect him find agreeable. "Agreeable" - this means compatible with the fulfilment of the aforementioned needs in a manner, which will render life acceptable. To each group of people, its own requirements, explicit and implicit, openly expressed and latent. The members of a nation might feel that they lost the ability to shape their future and that their security is compromised. They will then select a leader who will - so they believe, judged by what they know about him - restore both. The means of restoration are less important. To become a leader, one must convince the multitude, the masses, the public that one can deliver, not that one knows the best, most optimal and most efficient path to a set goal. The HOW is of no consequences. It pales compared to the WILL HE ? This is because people value the results more than the way. Even in the most individualistic societies, people prefer the welfare of the group to which they belong to their own. The leader promises to optimize utility for the group as a whole. It is clear that not all the members will equally benefit, or even benefit at all. The one who can convince his fellow beings that he can secure the attainment of their goals (and, thus, provide for their needs satisfactorily) - will become a leader. What matters could vary from time to time and from place to place. To one group of people, the personality of the leader is of crucial importance, to others his ancestral roots. At one time, the religious affiliation, and at another, the right education or vision of the future. Whatever determines the outcome, it must be strongly correlated with what the group perceives to be its needs and upon its definition of an acceptable life. This is the information content of the signal.

Selecting a leader is no trivial pursuit. People take it very seriously. They harbour the belief that the results of this decision will also



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