HOW DO WE STUDY POLITICAL LEADERS ?. THE BIG QUESTIONS: What exactly is a typology, and why is it useful to classify leaders? What are some of the best known typologies for studying political leaders? What is the difference between a “normative” typology and an “empirical” one?
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HOW DO WE STUDY POLITICAL LEADERS?
THE BIG QUESTIONS:
What exactly is a typology, and why is it useful to classify leaders?
What are some of the best known typologies for studying political leaders?
What is the difference between a “normative” typology and an “empirical” one?
How do historians, social scientists, and psychologists differ in their approach to studying leadership?
SOME INITIAL POINTS:
What can Malcom Gladwell’s spaghetti talk tell us about classification? (http://www.ted.com/talks/malcolm_gladwell_on_spaghetti_sauce.html )
Classifying is worth doing because it can help us to better understand why leaders do what they do and to predict behaviors
Identifying the correct categories is as important as correctly classifying leaders into them
There isn’t one type of leader… There are types. There isn’t one type of leadership…There are types. Different classification schemes will help us to group leaders for different purposes
Mixing methods can make for good social science. Rather than going to Italy to understand the historical origins of spaghetti sauce, or doing a deep “case study” of Ragu and Prego, Gladwell’s friend collected a lot of data from a lot of observations.
WE’VE ALREADY TALKED ABOUT SOME EMPIRICAL CLASSIFICATION SCHEMES:
There are leaders who alter somewhat the direction of history, and there are the really rare ones that create a new historical path. Most leaders in democracies do neither… Why?
There are leaders who are couldn’t change history, those who were necessary to change it, and there are those whose presence alone has changed history
Conservative vs. radical or “progressive” leadership (going backwards vs. going forward)
Tyrants (aka despots)
Visionaries (aka social engineers or totalitarians)
Transitional leaders (sometimes called modernizing leaders)
Deductive (using observations of specific leaders, political scientists usually deduce principles from cases) vs. inductive reasoning (beginning with certain principles, political psychological approaches usually predict a specific leader’s behaviors)
Why does the historian or psychologist typically focus on just one leader rather than comparing large numbers? (Not all of them, though)
What kind of evidence do psychological studies of political leadership typically look at? Especially when looking from afar?
The systematic study and mapping of personality types
Early life biography, writing and speeches, interviews
Evidence from the interaction with others
Motives. What big goals cause a particular leader to seek and use power?Achieving excellence? Establishing relationships with others or one’s “in-group”? Using power to influence others?
Cognitive style. How does a particular leader think about problems and make judgments? How complex is her thinking and problem solving? How open is she to new and/or contradictory information? How well does she classify problems correctly and draw upon, order, and integrate different sources/types of information? Take a look at Fallows, p. 7 for a summary of US presidents.
Core beliefs/values (Operational code)What are this person’s givens? Efficacy vs fate? Good/Evil vs. subjective view? Life is about little problems vs. life is about large struggles? Others are motivated by carrots or sticks?
Personality traits (and types, including “disorders,” which are clusters of traits) . What habitual elements (e.g. and patterns of behavior, thought, and emotion) drive the leader? Has the leader developed a personality disorder? Examples of traits: agreeableness, distrust/Examples of a disorder: paranoia, obsessive compulsiveness, narcissism . Take a look at Fallows, p. 6 for a look at several US presidents.