A remarkable feature of the concept of political leadership is its apparently infinite elasticity: it stretches over presidents and prime ministers, dictators and popes, revolutionaries and reformers. Take the concept beyond politics, and its reach effortlessly expands to include business executives, platoon commanders, primary school principals, the captain of the cricket team, and many more. But is it useful, or even accurate, to describe all these figures as ‘leaders’ given they, and the entities they lead, have almost nothing in common? Are they really comparable as leaders?
'The Myth of the Strong Leader' by Archie Brown
THE MYTH OF THE STRONG LEADER: POLITICAL LEADERSHIP IN THE MODERN AGE
by Archie Brown
Bodley Head, $59.99 hb, 470 pp, 9781847921758
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Stephen Mills is honorary senior lecturer at the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney. He has written widely on Australian politics and election campaigns, including The Professionals: Strategy, Money and the Rise of the Political Campaigner in Australia (2014). He served in the office of Prime Minister Bob Hawke as speechwriter (1986–91).
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