Leading Blog






06.22.07

Corrupt Leadership: Tyranny of the Self

Corrupt Leadership

POWER CORRUPTS. Well . . . it can and too often does. The exercise of power — causing some to submit to the will of others — is necessary in any functioning state, organization or relationship. This power may shift, but it always exists. Power is not evil, but one should be cautious about the form it takes. Power controlled by the ego is something to be fearful of. Power tempered by humility and character is a gift.

Bertrand de Jouvenel wrote colorfully about power in his 1949 book, On Power: Its Nature and the History of its Growth, “The leader of any group of men . . . feels thereby an almost physical enlargement of himself . . . Command is a mountain top. The air breathed there is different, and the perspectives seen there are different, from those of the valley of obedience.” With this kind of power should come understanding, without it, it is a slippery slope to self-delusion and tyranny.

Power with out humility and compassion is ignoble
In your opinion, which of these is the most critical cause of state failure?
Corruption:43%
Lack of Basic Education:15.3%
Group Hatred:13.2%
Poverty:9.1%
Lack of Social Equality:7.2%
External Actors:5.5%
Natural Disasters:3.8%
Environmental Damage:1.5%
Malnutrition and Disease:1.5%
Source: FundForPeace.org
Results as of June 22, 2007
at best, but more often than not, it quickly degrades to tyranny, exploitation and destruction.

As part of their Fail States Index project, FundForPeace.org has been running a poll asking readers what they feel is the most critical cause of state failure. It’s not always easy to determine the source of failure. There is a tendency to allow oneself to fall into the abyss of dense complexity and deep subjectivity. Fortunately, there is no space for that here.

The current results of the poll show corruption to be the overwhelming reason for failure. I would agree. Lack of education too, certainly limits one’s thinking and responses to life’s issues including corruption in government. LaBrent Chrite, professor at the University of Michigan Business School wrote, “Leadership and governance provide the predominant factor behind the dissonance or variance in progress seen across developing countries.”

Corruption is ultimately the result of a total breakdown in leadership. It's wrong thinking and a wrong perspective on the part of the leader. In a corrupt culture, leaders have set the pace by looking after themselves instead of looking after their responsibilities. They have fallen to the tyranny of their own mind — belief in only one’s self.

James Hillman wrote in Kinds of Power, “This kind of power, which makes us both effective and blind, goes deeper than merely being set on our ways. It is the tyrannical rule of style, the style of our thinking and working and connecting, the style of our words and gestures, and as it all fits together into the integrated personality, consciousness becomes tyrannical. We drink to escape from this tyrant; divorce, fall in love, quit jobs, move residences, go bankrupt, shoot rapids, hang-glide, fight our children—anything to escape the cruel and unusual punishment inflicted by the absolutism of successful rule. Everything has been subordinated to the one tyrannical pattern. All otherness is gone. One has become totally oneself and now suffers from totalitarian rule.”

Are we tyrannized by our own mind?

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:33 AM
| Comments (0) | Leadership



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