As I was working on my homework, I thought you might be interested in these notes from an article that I read for one of my classes.

Discussions of leadership are intertwined with issues of authority.  Western philosophy assumes that there is no morally valid leadership without the consent of the led.  It is a matter of modern Western moral concern that ideals not be imposed, that behavior not be coerced, that the search for truth not be stifled.  It is immoral when authority is abused.  Followers should not be mere means to self-satisfying ends for the leader.

  • Ethical norms and behavioral ideals should not be imposed but freely embraced.
  • Motivation should not be reduced to coercion but grow out of authentic inner commitment.
  • The search for truth should not be stifled but rather questioning and creativity should be encouraged.

We label as “pseudo”, the kind of leadership that tramples upon these concerns.  Pseudo-leadership endorses values such as favoritism, superiority, and submission.  Pseudo-leaders are more interested in themselves than their followers, and knowingly focus their followers on personal agendas instead of shared vision.  They engage in leadership at the expense of their followers because they are primarily concerned with their own self-interests.

Characteristics of pseudo-leaders:

  • seek to become the idols of their followers
  • concerned about their power and gaining more of it
  • enhance their status by maintaining distance from and their followers
  • known by those close to them to be domineering and egotistical
  • concerned about maintaining the dependence of their followers
  • welcome and expect blind obedience
  • privately contemptuous of those they are supposed to be serving
  • masters at manipulating behind the scenes
  • set and control agenda
  • withhold information
  • mislead, deceive and prevaricate.
  • wear different masks for different occasions
  • rationalize and justify their deceptions and contradictory behavior
  • publicly support but privately oppose and obstruct
  • not likely to listen to conflicting views
  • intolerant of the differences of opinion from their followers
  • overemphasize authority and underweight reason
  • take advantage of the ignorance of their followers
  • manipulate arguments to achieve the desired response
  • invent fictitious obstacles and imaginary enemies
  • highlight “we-they” differences
  • focus on plots, conspiracies, excuses, and insecurities
  • encourage favoritism, competitiveness, envy, greed, hate, and conflict

They create the impression that they are doing the right thing, but secretly fail to do so when doing the right thing conflicts with their own narcissistic interest. They claim they are right and good; others are wrong and bad.  They are the reason things go well; other persons are the reason for things going badly.  They are captains who sail under false colors.

(Notes taken from this article.)


7 thoughts on “Pseudo-leaders

  1. This list of characteristics of pseudo-leaders is, both sadly and thankfully, all too accurate. As I was reading your notes, for almost every point I could picture specific instances from the actions of several individuals who claimed to be leaders but inflicted harm instead. The list is a good yardstick of toxic “leadership.” Thanks for posting it …

  2. wow Grace, that totally sounds like a few bosses I have had in the recent past.
    I think the good part about the accuracy of this list is that, these people seem to serve to their own undoing.
    All things that are done in the dark will be brought into the light.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Good thoughts guys. I’d love to write a little more about how and why this happens with some religious leaders. Maybe next week. :)

  4. Have been at the rough end of them all in my time.Bless them for teaching me the importance of freedom and what true faith and trust is all about.

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