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Good leaders, bad leaders

Good leaders unite people. Bad leaders divide people. Good leaders use shared values to bring people together. Good leaders use meaningful connections to unite people. Bad leaders use existing fissures in society to divide people. Bad leaders create mistrust among citizens – divide and rule. Good leaders bring out the collective good. Good leaders heal society’s wounds. Bad leaders widen society’s wounds.

Good leaders spread affection. Bad leaders spread hate – and hateful rhetoric results in on-the-ground violence. Good leaders are compassionate. Bad leaders are insensitive. Good leaders come up with solutions. Bad leaders just blame others. Good leaders do not use bad words. Bad leaders use bad language. Bad leaders use passive aggressive communication.

Good leaders ‘prioritize personal development’. Good leaders accept responsibility for failure. Bad leaders ‘know everything’. Good leaders are prone to learning. Bad leaders have a ‘know it all attitude’. Good leaders strengthen state institutions. Bad leaders delegitimize state institutions. Good leaders are self-effacing. Bad leaders are self-obsessed. Good leaders seek harmony. Bad leaders seek conflict. Good leaders undertake conflict-management. Poor leadership causes conflict.

Good leaders are humble. Bad leaders are arrogant. Bad leaders create an intimidating environment. Good leaders adapt their management style. Bad leaders have a ‘my-way-or-the-highway-mindset’. Good leaders are open minded. Bad leaders rationalize their bad behaviour. Bad leaders are unpredictable. Good leaders are responsible and dependable. Bad leaders disrespect others.

What do bad leaders do? This question was put to Yuval Noah Harari, an Israeli historian, intellectual and a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Harari replied: Bad leaders “locate pre-existing wounds in the community. Places where people disagree. And instead of trying to heal the wounds they stick their finger into it and try to enlarge it and inflame it as much as possible to destroy trust between the citizens. And then they offer themselves as the leader for one tribe. It’s no longer a community. It’s now warring tribes and they place themselves at the head of one tribe promising to defeat the other.”

Harari adds, “It is the oldest trick in the book. Its divide and rule. The way to power….is to divide society, to create distrust between citizens, because in order to function a democracy needs trust between the citizens. I must trust that the other party, my political rivals, I don’t agree with them, maybe even I think they are stupid, but I don’t think they are evil. I don’t think they want to harm me.

“That’s the basis for democracy. Then even if I lose an election, I am willing to accept the verdict of the majority of the citizens. But if I think [about] the other party, they are not my rivals, they are my enemies. They want to destroy my way of life. They want to enslave me. Then I will do anything, legal or illegal, to win elections. And if I lose, I will not accept the verdict. So, in this situation you can have a civil war….”

Email: farrukh15@hotmail.com

Dr Farrukh Saleem, "Good leaders, bad leaders," The News. 2022-06-05.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , Political rivals , Good leaders , Democracy , Yuval Noah Harari , Jerusalem , Israel