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Do Great Leaders Have to be Jerks to Lead? (Maybe)

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posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 09:13 AM
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Look at the successful people of the world. Steve Jobs is a fine example - extremely successful, but also notorious for being a total jerk to people. We see it with politicians all the time - and throughout history - would Alexander the Great have been seen as a "jerk" in some instances? I'm not sure, but I bet you could find examples with many great leaders throughout history. But thinking back to Alexander the great - sometimes the hard decisions have to be made, and a leader must command - and a bit of fear/angst amongst those serving the leader can contribute to the effectiveness of those commandments (obviously you need a fine balance - if they fear the leader too much they may overthrow).

In some instances, being blunt or direct about things can be perceived as that person actually being a jerk. In reality, that person is just trying to communicate the information as quickly as possible.

However, being that we are all human (I think), we are all susceptible to human nature. Because of this, people's egos, distorted beliefs and emotions can prevent progress and action from taking place. Because of this, sometimes a "leader" may need to be less-than-nice in order to correct this behavior and get whatever the project is back on track.

Could they do it in a nice way? It depends on the circumstance, but I'm under the impression that in many cases the answer is NO. This is because, if the "leader" tries to give a directive or a request without what I would like to term an "angry passion", it doesn't instill the same urgency in those receiving that request.

[ side note: I just ordered "The Prince" by Niccolo Machiavelli (Italian Diplomat from the 15th century) - I'm sure this will have some great philosophical ideas about leading. I will have to see what it says about this topic! ]

If it is perceived that the leader is being a jerk, it may also strain the relationship, but ultimately what it comes down to is the bottom line, and if the "jerk" behavior is getting things done, it is going to be a personality trait that thrives wherever things are getting done.

I know there are millions of scenarios that would classify as exceptions to this, but I really wanted to open up the discussion on ATS to find out what you are seeing on a daily basis, at work, with any groups you volunteer your time at, at school, etc.


ETA: in this discussion I was hoping to talk mainly about APPOINTED leaders in our current times
edit on 29-10-2015 by FamCore because: (no reason given)




posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 09:24 AM
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Do Great Leaders Have to be Jerks to Lead?

They aren't "leaders" they are takers.

They been stepping on others to get to the top their whole lives. Nobody who has a conscience can understand just how some people can be that ambitious and un empathetic towards others.

But on the surface they are all manufactured smiles and seemingly good will.



posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 09:28 AM
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I believe in some instances, you almost have to be, to get anything done over the whining.
I would probably be seen as a jerk, if I were a world leader. People see me as a "hard ass" now. I don't mince words and I don't sugar coat what I have to say, if it needs to be said. I am compassionate, but sometimes the truth is the truth and there's no getting around that. I tell the PC crowd and whiners to grow up and stop worrying about their hurt wittle feewings and grow a thicker skin, because although they preach tolerance, if they don't like something, they are the most intolerant people I've ever seen.
Being a leader means sometimes making very hard choices. Ones that some may not like. But, you also have to cut through the BS and do what is best for the most people.



posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 09:44 AM
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a reply to: FamCore

I think that most great leaders aren't jerks, but most lack the ambition of having the power of a military or a nation behind it, so only the jerks with that type of ambition take it that far.
edit on 29-10-2015 by SlapMonkey because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 09:48 AM
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a reply to: FamCore

Some leaders or those in authority have gotten there by pure politics. It's who you know and the circle of people you kiss up to. I've held a lot of jobs in my life time both in management and as a regular laborer. There is always someone in management who got their position because of their mommy, daddy or sometimes other connections.

I've worked under some great supervisors and managers over the years. Those leaders listened to worker's complaints and ideas, they didn't have a huge power egos and really made an effort to get to know their workers. This is what really makes a good leader. The ones who are jerks only hurt the morale of the people they are leading and diminish the productivity and team spirit of the overall company or organization.

I've never met a good leader who was a jerk. There are smart people who are jerks but still overall that doesn't make them a good leader. Outstanding leaders encompass the entire package.



posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 09:52 AM
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originally posted by: intrptr
They aren't "leaders" they are takers.

They been stepping on others to get to the top their whole lives. Nobody who has a conscience can understand just how some people can be that ambitious and un empathetic towards others.

But on the surface they are all manufactured smiles and seemingly good will.


I would have to agree; I look at people like Nelson Mandela, who I think was a great leader, and did so without the "meanness".

But in a world with so much destruction and financial incentives, it seems that all of the current World Leaders do have to rule with a hint of "jerk" in order to get things done.

I can't see anyone without that trait coming to power and being able to maintain it.



posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 10:06 AM
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You are on the wrong track, by bringing up Alexander the Great. "Leaders" in his time HAD TO HAVE toughness, brawn, brains and real leadership skills. I will clarify below.

I have always taken the positions that "Social Darwinism" is not real.

If those at the top of the "civilized" food chain, whom are currently operating successfully under the man-made, legally enforced, rules of "Social Darwinism", PUSH TOO HARD, they may find themselves EVENTUALLY living under the rules of real "Darwinian Evolution", where the "physically-fittest" can simply drag them out of their offices and/or homes, remove thier heads and implement "mob rule" (ala the French Revolution and the Peasants Revolt).

In the days of old, people like Steve Jobs would not have held their leadership positions for long because they would have eventually "pissed off" the wrong persons and gotten killed as a result. Leaders in the "olden days" had to walk a fine line of "being a jerk", "being tough", "being fair" and "being generous". In less litigious times, people like Steve Jobs would have simply gotten stabbed in the back by someone (like Brutus did to Caesar). Later, in more litigious, but still slightly uncivilized times, a "Jerk Boss" could be challenged to a Duel at any given moment (like Burr did to Hamilton). Finally, in more recent times, the Mafia would have paid someone Steve Jobs a few visits regarding his policy on not employing Americans to manufacture goods (mafia affiliation with labor unions).

Today, people like Steve Jobs are protected by Man-Made Laws that prevent society, communities and malcontents from taking out their grievances in blood. For example, I'd argue that Steve Jobs would have been dead within a year, if he tried to run his company like he did, during the times of Andrew Jackson (even as late as Al Capone). An angry mob of disgruntled employees would have ripped him to shreds or an up and coming VP would have challenged him to a Duel. Basically back then, leaders had to be tough, have some brawn, brains AND leadership skills. But today, crappy corporate leaders can get by solely on brains because laws have been written to protect APPOINTED leaders from physical harm, whom lack toughness, brawn and real leadership skills. My position is that the guys we see running the show today, in both corporations and government, aren't really leaders in the traditional sense, they are just brainy guys being legally appointed to positions of authority, due to having been "vetted" by their peers, whom also have no real leadership skills.

Back to my above example, noting the Peasants Revolt of 1381. If the leaders in those days did not have toughness, brawn, brains and real leadership skills, would they have been able to stop the revolt? Nope. In contrast, would Steve Jobs have had the ability to put down a revolt, even if given the tools to do so? I highly doubt it, which makes using the term "leader" to describe people like him inappropriate.

Without modern laws and litigation, people like Steve Jobs would have no ability to gain and retain power. For example, would people have looked to Steve Jobs for guidance immediately after a natural disaster (like the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami) where he would have been the highest "corporate ranking" person in the room? I doubt it because someone with REAL leadership ability would have stepped up with PRACTICAL solutions, to help everyone survive. BTW, I've seen this happen in real life, so I am speaking from experience. Alexander the Great on the other hand, would have been a Real Leader, no matter what the circumstances.

So with all that in mind, you should rephrase your statement to the following, "Do APPOINTED Leaders that have been vetted by committee, need to be Jerks to Lead? If you rephrase the question in this way, it becomes very easy to answer, YES!
edit on 29-10-2015 by boohoo because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 10:10 AM
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a reply to: FamCore

Most of them are jerks because, well, they cant help themselves... they have psychopathic tendencies..

"Cool under pressure. Lack of empathy. Utilitarianism instincts."
"No matter the discomfort of the analogy: leaders are already closer in behavior to psychopaths than most."
Corporate leaders and psychopaths — what’s the difference?

Explains why the world is the way it is. Some will say this is just a "survival of the fittest" trait and are probably right.
The "pursuit of profit and power" system we have is the perfect setting for them to thrive in.

"The hallmarks of the psychopathic personality involve egocentric, grandiose behavior, completely lacking empathy and conscience. Additionally, psychopaths may be charismatic, charming, and adept at manipulating one-on-one interactions. In a corporation, one’s ability to advance is determined largely by a person’s ability to favorably impress his or her direct manager. Unfortunately, certain of these psychopathic qualities – in particular charm, charisma, grandiosity (which can be mistaken for vision or confidence) and the ability to “perform” convincingly in one-on-one settings – are also qualities that help one get ahead in the business world."
The Disturbing Link Between Psychopathy and Leadership

This is why I was never a good businessman. Too much empathy..But I have the "charismatic and charming" bit though..



posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 10:17 AM
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a reply to: boohoo




Today, people like Steve Jobs are protected by Man Made Laws that prevent society and malcontents from taking out their grievances in blood.


This was a GREAT post my friend - thank you for sharing. I agree with you 110%, on everything you said. Thank you for articulating that so well.

Much of the time, I wish it were the "olden days" when we could challenge people to duels etc., there seems to be less accountability nowadays.



posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 10:22 AM
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a reply to: Ngatikiwi




This is why I was never a good businessman. Too much empathy..But I have the "charismatic and charming" bit though.


Great insights - I am in a similar category. I used to get walked on and taken advantage of at work/school when I was less experienced, because sometimes I have too much empathy and can be a "people-pleaser". Luckily I've changed my approach based on these experiences, but I could never lack the empathy or ignore how I feel for others, unlike our psychopathic leaders today who can easily disregard the wellbeing/safety/happiness of anyone other than themselves.



posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 10:26 AM
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a reply to: FamCore


You mentioned Mandela as peaceful but he has a history of womanizing and spousal abuse. And one of his wives was down right scary so he's not exactly squeaky clean.
He's probably better than most though.

As to your topic. A leader needs to be an alpha male or female personality. Just like a good parent knows when a kid needs a spanking, a good leader knows when to get tough. Sometimes that can come across as being a jerk.



posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 10:28 AM
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originally posted by: Ngatikiwi
Explains why the world is the way it is. Some will say this is just a "survival of the fittest" trait and are probably right.
The "pursuit of profit and power" system we have is the perfect setting for them to thrive in.


Again, this concept is not "survival of the fittest", this is "Social Darwinism". There is a difference between the two. These "appointed leaders" are only "thriving" because regular people think man-made law stops them from practicing "Darwinian Evolution".



posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 10:29 AM
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a reply to: FamCore

Point about so-called leaders is that they are usually a figure head. Its really the people just beneath and around them, often in the shadows e.g. advisers who play to the ego of many leaders and actually make the decisions that enable a leader to access the power they use to make the things they want to happen. When we say leaders we rarely mean one individual but normally a group to aid and abet the 'leader', who without them and their helpaid would loose their elevated position.



posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 10:35 AM
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originally posted by: Bluntone22
You mentioned Mandela as peaceful but he has a history of womanizing and spousal abuse. And one of his wives was down right scary so he's not exactly squeaky clean.
He's probably better than most though.

As to your topic. A leader needs to be an alpha male or female personality. Just like a good parent knows when a kid needs a spanking, a good leader knows when to get tough. Sometimes that can come across as being a jerk.


As I said people like Mandela have toughness, brawn, brains and real leadership skills. Mandela also learned how to walk the fine line of "being a jerk", "being tough", "being fair" and "being generous". Why? Because if he did not have those skills, he would have been killed while in JAIL. Corporate appointed leaders in the USA have no real physical threats hanging over their heads, so in turn, they flog their horses to death, thinking that there will be no physical repercussions.



posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 10:41 AM
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a reply to: boohoo


That and killing him in jail would have made him a martyr.
I've said the same thing about Rosa parks.
Had Ross parks done what she did, they would have lynched him.
Timing and perspective make a big difference how situations are handled. More so with political leaders.
edit on 29-10-2015 by Bluntone22 because: spelling



posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 10:44 AM
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a reply to: Bluntone22

Martin Luther King has a reputation like this as well - I don't see Mandela as being "mean" to his core, which is why I used him as an example.

Maybe Bob Marley was a better example? (also a notorious womanizer)
edit on 29-10-2015 by FamCore because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 10:47 AM
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originally posted by: Shiloh7
a reply to: FamCore
Point about so-called leaders is that they are usually a figure head. Its really the people just beneath and around them, often in the shadows e.g. advisers who play to the ego of many leaders and actually make the decisions that enable a leader to access the power they use to make the things they want to happen. When we say leaders we rarely mean one individual but normally a group to aid and abet the 'leader', who without them and their helpaid would loose their elevated position.


Not really, perhaps 75-100 years ago, but today they are just "appointed leaders" as well. Without laws backing their actions up and the looming fear of legal punishment, regular people wouldn't listen to their ANY of their decrees and would physically retaliate against any attempts by them to assert "appointed authority".



posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 10:56 AM
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a reply to: FamCore

I was always told that there has only been one perfect person, but then he got nailed to a post.

But again on your topic. I say a great leader has to be a jerk on occasion but not evil to the core.



posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 11:04 AM
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a reply to: FamCore


I can't see anyone without that trait coming to power and being able to maintain it.

How do we account for career politicians, then? Hillary, McCain, and ilk never seem to go away, always dancing around the flame in one capacity or another. Always wanting the reins of power, always kissing ass on the way up and manipulating their way, by any means.

Edit:

I would have to agree; I look at people like Nelson Mandela, who I think was a great leader, and did so without the "meanness".

I also Gandhi and MLK. Their "leadership" is popular because they set an example people want to follow. As opposed to others who are sold to the public by endless drumming of their "qualities" in the media.

Greedy, selfish types don't care if you love or hate them as long as they are in the limelight. Their goal is power and fame. They want to run everyone and everything.

Damn control freaks.
edit on 29-10-2015 by intrptr because: edit:



posted on Oct, 29 2015 @ 11:21 AM
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a reply to: intrptr

I think many of these Career Politicians (Hillary included) are in fact psychopaths, but also many are already in the "inner circles", and have so much political influence that their "syndicate" does very well without the leader needing to rule with an iron fist. The checks will keep coming, the politicians will tend to their financial donors' needs, and their "assistants" and what have you can do all the "mean stuff" while the politician smiles and waves at the cameras (also the occasional kissing babies and public charitable acts to get more press).

At this point I am realizing that it seems it isn't black and white and as time goes on the lines will get even more blurred. The bottom line is that I can't point out an appointed leader or "powerhouse" who does not (either indirectly or directly) have to do "mean things" to acquire and stay in their positions



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