Qualities of the Effective Leader

Keywords: leadership concepts, durkheim leadership, machiavelli leader

Qualities of the Effective Leader

In every form of community, there is always one person or a group of people who manages or handles the issues, known as a leader. And, in order to be leaders, those certain people have to earn the hearts of majority who belong to their communities. However, winning the hearts of people is not the only quality of the effective leader. For this, leaders must be an expert to manipulate the people’s mind, and there are four ways to master. First is to focus on the majority of the population. Second is to give an illusion to people in the name of hope that they may receive the helps from the government. Third is not to raise the expectation of people. Last is to shift the concerns of people which may lead to question the qualification of leaders. However, manipulating the minds of people doesn’t ensure that states will function properly. Therefore, the effective leader must learn how to govern people. And there are two ways that can guarantee leaders that their followers would follow their words. One is “to be feared than to be loved”(Machiavelli, The Prince, Pg46). Other one is to “appear, upon seeing and hearing him, to be all mercy, all faithfulness, all integrity, all kindness, all religion”(Machiavelli, The Prince, Pg 49). However, if one really possesses these virtues, then one may be chained by one’s own virtue and moral to forget one’s duty that is to maintain the community.

According to Durkheim, the mere fact that we are human made us create society, and people subordinate to society rationally. (Durkheim, Individualism). And, based on most people’s rationalism, a leader must have enough ability to earn the credits from the people. For one to be a leader, then it is obvious that one needs to know the way to be credibility and, for this, one needs to how to manipulate people’s minds and be favored by the majority of population since favoring minority of population can’t make a leader stay in the position for a long. If a leader dares to betray their hearts and favors minority of population, it would lead to the downfall of the leader. Luis XVI, for instance, removed from his throne in 1791 by French Revolution because he favored priests and aristocrats, who are minor, and forced the commoners whose population consists of 98% of contemporary France to pay more taxes. Therefore, an effective leader must favor the majority of people; otherwise, there would be conflicts between people and the leader, which would eventually lead to the tragic end of the leader.

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Throughout history, there have been no cases in which people rebel against leader when they have hope that their leader would do something good for them. Therefore, an effective leader needs to figure out the needs of people and lend a hand to them. So, the leader can earn respect; however, the support should not exceed the certain degree that may lead to increase in deficits of the country. If the leader fails to achieve this, not only people but also a whole nation would be in great confusion. As a result, it may lead to the collapse of the nation. Therefore, helping people can be known as virtuous but not effective. So, the effective leader who must be appeared as kind and generous should create an illusion which can balance the hope of people and the economy of the nation. So that, people may think they would also receive help and expect the mercy or generosity from the leader.

Once, Lao Tzu said “When the master governs, the people are hardly aware that he exists” (Lao Tzu. Tao-teaching, pg 24), but he also mentioned “there is a time for being in motion.” (Lao Tzu. Tao-teaching, pg 26) In other words, the best leader only takes action when he believes it is necessary. This is because if the leader continues to work for the welfare of people, people who have experienced better world would expect things to be better (Plato, Allegory of the Cave). In the end, the nation itself would be bankrupt, and people would blame on leaders for using taxes unnecessarily. So, the effective leader needs to manipulate the expectation of the people. However, unlike other qualities, this quality gives the direct effect on the reputation of the next leader. For example, Ashoka, the emperor of Mayura Empire, conquered the largest territory in Indian history, and later, promoted Buddhism to stabilize his empire; however, the golden age of Mayura Empire only stayed for his time because the successor was not able to meet the expectation of people who trust the successor to be like Ashoka to attack other countries in order to gain the wealth from other nations to decrease taxes and share his fortune. Then, the country started to decline and just sustained for a half century after golden age. Therefore, the effective leader needs to consider the successor; If the expectation of people and ability of leader are not in equilibrium state, this would result to the great confusion in the nation.

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Another quality that an effective leader must possess is that “a prince (leader) must be prudent enough to know how to escape the bad reputation of those vices that would lose the state for him, and must protect himself from those that will not lose it for him.”(Prince, Machiavelli) This clause shows that a leader must know how to escape criticism in order for one to stay in the power. Therefore, in order for him to achieve this, the effective leader needs to use media for shifting concerns of people. Current leaders make use of the media quite well that whenever there are some concerns against their reputations, the media begins to focus on crimes or scandal between celebrities to change people’s concerns. So, people would forget whatever mistakes they made. If a leader fails to achieve this, then people would recognize him as untrustworthy and who will try to follow his words? Therefore, there are high possibilities that people would underestimate the leader and dare to challenge the leader. So, the effective leader needs to possess this quality for him to lead the people.

In addition, Machiavelli said “men in general judge more by their eyes than their hands; for everyone can see but few can feel. Everyone sees what you seem to be, few perceive what you are, and those few do not dare to contradict the opinion of the many who have the majesty of the state to defend them.” From this quote, we can lucidly figure out that people would not judge their leader through experience but through what they hear and see. Therefore, the leader must prioritize appearance, and this would make him lay the foundation of his good reputation. If the leader would be able to establish this foundation, then people in the society would trust he has a good nature even though some people could perceive the pretentiousness.

Furthermore, Machiavelli said, “it is better to be feared than to be loved”. According to him, this is because “love is held together by a chain of obligation which, since men are a sorry lot, is broken on every occasion in which their own self-interest is concerned; but fear is held together by a dread of punishment which will never abandon you.” Although his view may seem cynical, his words are quite true. Men have a tendency to neglect the love and may make excuses them to gain what they want. However, fear is different. Fear chained people to inhibit their thoughts regarding desires to attain their interest. Moreover, fear can also increase the efficiency of productivity. Men are such creatures that require certain conditions such as deadline, pressure and tension to accomplish the task. So, fear may serve as one of these conditions. Therefore, fear ensures leaders that followers would not only do their task but also increase productivity. To conclude, the ability to make others fear is the qualities that the effective leader must possess.

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Lastly, virtue is not one of the qualities that the effective leader must have. For being virtuous, the leader would need to make virtuous decisions which may bring negative effects to the society which means the whole people belonging to that particular community would suffer from it because the leader tries to pursue ideal when one live in the reality. This is totally against the duty of the leader that is to lead the people. Therefore, virtuous shouldn’t include as one of the qualities since this may blind leaders to make an absurd decision rather an effective one which is more suitable for reality. In other words, the effective leader needs to distinguish the difference between ideal and real. In China, there was a king named as Yanggong from Song country during warning states period. According to history, he valued fairness. So, during the war, when the enemy invaded the country’s territory, he waited for the enemy to be prepared for a fair battle. So, in this battle, his virtuous decision led to the defeat of his nation.

Although people have very different perceptions about the effective leader, most people, in my opinion, believe that the effective leader is the one who leads the followers effectively, and, for that, leaders must understand both reality and the nature of people. Therefore, the qualities, mentioned above, must be considered as the basic qualities that leaders need to deal with people and reality for one to lead the group effectively even though there may be more qualities that the effective leader should possess. First is to manipulate the minds of people. Second is to be loved than to be feared. Third is to maintain a good reputation. Last is to distinguish reality and ideal. However, it may seem a hard task for one to have all these qualities. So, leader must appear to have all these qualities.

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