Sunday, October 4, 2009

The power, and the glory - but not leadership

In 1938 Lord Bertram Russell published his work on Power (Unwin Books).

In this he says “… One of the chief emotional differences [between man and other animals] is that some human desires, unlike those of animals, are essentially boundless and incapable of complete satisfaction. … Of the infinite desires of man, the chief are the desires for power and glory. These are not identical, though closely allied. … the easiest way to obtain glory is to obtain power. .. The desire for glory, therefore, prompts, in the main, the same actions as are prompted by the desire for power, and the two motives may, for most practical purposes, be regarded as one.” (pp7-9)

Russell goes on to say (p20) “… the leader is hardly likely to be successful unless he enjoys his power over his followers. He will therefore be led to a preference for the kind of situation, and the kind of mob, that makes his success easy. … The kind of mob that the [he] will desire is one more given to emotion than to reflection, one filled with fears and consequent hatreds, one impatient of slow and gradual methods, and at once exasperated and hopeful.”

Today, all too often, we see power and the seeking of glory mistaken for leadership.

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