Why Would Anyone Follow a Bad Leader? - Deepstash

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Why do we choose and follow dictators, despots, and tyrants? Is it us or them that’s the problem? Well, it’s both. Followers reap the leaders they sow and vice versa. So, if we don’t like what we are reaping, we should change what we’re sowing.


Why Would Anyone Follow a Bad Leader?

Why Would Anyone Follow a Bad Leader?



5.22K reads

Psychologist Robert Hogan estimates that the majority of workplace managers/leaders are either deficient or incompetent – one reason why executive turnover is so high. And, with a world full of dictators and despots, political leadership is also full of bad leaders

A big part of the problem is that we really don’t know how to pick good leaders, due to psychological biases and trying to serve our own self-interests, rather than the greater good.

One obvious reason is fear. Tyrants are punitive and will subjugate anyone who ques...

1. We Value the Wrong Leader Qualities. 

We value strong, confident leaders, but often confuse arrogance and narcissism for strength. Research shows that the worst leaders are very narcissistic and arrogant. Bad leaders are convinced that they are right, ra...

2. We Equate Effectiveness with Being a Good Leader. 

We place great value on results, but often neglect to consider how those results were obtained (i.e., “the ends justify the means”). Truly good leaders are successful, but they are careful to do the (mor...

3. We Crave Power. 

Leadership expert, Jean Lipman-Blumen, in her book on Toxic Leadership, suggests that followers enable and assist bad leaders – allowing them to get into positions of power, and supporting their misdeeds. All too often, follower...

4. We Don’t Hold Leaders Accountable. 

We often blindly place leaders on a pedestal and assume that they will do the right thing. We need to be active followers and hold leaders accountable. The title of Ira Chaleff’s book, “The Courageous Follower...

5. We Rationalize. 

All too often we give leaders “a pass” instead of holding them accountable. Or, we allow leaders to be above the rules (“he/she can do it because he/she is the leader”). Finally, we “settle” too easily. Instead of seeking out the very b...

The antidote for bad leadership is courageous and engaged followers who serve as a check when the leader misbehaves or takes the wrong path. For this to happen, it is imperative that we foster an environment in which citizens feel they are empowered, and will be protected, if they stand u...

Good leaders:

  1. Unify and Don’t Divide. Good leaders never create divisions in their constituents, creating a “we vs. they” effect. 
  2. Achieve Results But Limit Collateral Damage. A good leader is effective, but never


For, in a democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interest in politics, 'holds office'; every one of us is in a position of responsibility; and, in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon ho...


There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses.


A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes and has the courage to develop that...


“If you let your head get too big, it'll break your neck.”

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