Leadership iStock

Allen Drury's classic 1950's Washington political thriller Advise and Consent contains a dialogue between fictional Senate Majority Leader Bob Munson and veteran hardnose from South Carolina Senator Seab Cooley. A young demagogue who managed to get elected has just finished another characteristic outburst in the Senate chamber.

“You know, Bob,” Seab remarked softly, “if I were you, you know what I’d do with that young man?”

“What’s that, Seab?” the Majority Leader asked.

“I’d destroy him,” Senator Cooley said, and he meant it absolutely. “Yes, sir, I’d destroy him before he gets any bigger. He means trouble, Bob; I’ve seen his kind come to this Senate before, and they always mean trouble, Bob. Destroy him, Bob, while you still can.”

The Majority Leader knew he could, and the means flashed swiftly through his mind, keeping him off good committees, preventing his bills from ever coming to the floor for debate, floating rumors of contention and dislike in the press, attacking him obliquely in speeches around the country, using all the little cruelties of parliamentary technique to razor a man down to political nothingness inch by inch. It could be done, and not with any great difficulty, either, at this stage of the game; but he only shrugged and grinned.

“Of course, Seab,” he said amiably, “he’s on my side at this moment, you know. Maybe that’s why you want him destroyed.”

“Just take my advice, Bob,” Seab Cooley said gently. “Just take my advice, or you are going to be mighty sorry someday.” {Advise and Consent, Allen Drury, DOUBLEDAY 1959; pp. 257-8}

Israel today has its own share of leaders and demagogues. In past days the country has been subjected to the latest antics of Likud MK Oren Hazan, who faces Knesset Ethics Committee disciplinary action for defying Knesset guards. Hazan, whose selfie photograph with the US President during his last visit to Israel led to ministers being barred from future official ceremonies, may represent more of a danger than disruption of protocol, and it doesn't matter which side you're on.

Hazan takes selfie picture during ceremony for Jerusalem Day at Western Wall
Hazan takes selfie picture during ceremony for Jerusalem Day at Western Wall Flash 90

During World War II the Psychological Institute of the University of Wuerzburg published a case study of one hundred young leaders in the city of Wuerzburg. The age of the leaders ranged from 14 to 21, the average being 17.6 years. It may be the only scientific personality study ever undertaken with regard to leaders' character traits and attitudes. The leaders represented a fair sampling in age and occupational distribution. The study was carried out over a period of two years.

The main results of the study can be briefly summarized as follows:

1. Of the one hundred leaders only twenty-eight were “spontaneous leaders”;

2. Sixty-one were “unspontaneous leaders”;

3. Eleven leaders could not be definitely classified as belonging to one group rather than to the other.

The spontaneous leader is described as the leader who is both willing and anxious to assume leadership tasks without being prompted to do so by outside influence or pressure. The unspontaneous leader is described as the person who fulfills his leadership tasks because induced to do so by someone else, usually a superior. Although he may occupy the position of the leader, he has the temperament and character of the official or bureaucrat.

Bureaucrat iStock

Willingness to assume responsibility is another basic criterion of distinction. Whereas the spontaneous leader will naturally tend to assume responsibility, the unspontaneous leader seeks continually to pass on responsibility if he has to take it on or, preferably, to avoid it altogether. Thus the “typological” study of the one hundred leaders shows that only 28 per cent of the leadership have leadership personalities, whereas the other seventy-two, and certainly sixty-one out of the seventy-two, merely have the name and position of leadership but not the stuff of which it is made. It is thus the official or bureaucrat who predominantly occupies the position of the leader in the selection of the leadership elite.

The leaders were divided into three groups according to the following criteria: How many considered their privileged positions as leaders primarily as service to an ideal? How many as comradely relation with other boys? And, third, how many looked upon their leadership positions primarily as a means of satisfying private interest?

The Stormy Ship of State
The Stormy Ship of State iStock

The first group numbered only nine out of one hundred. Only nine leaders considered their position primarily in terms of service to their cause. In the second group sixty-seven looked upon their position primarily as a comradely fellowship with other boys. In the third group seventeen considered their leadership status essentially as a means of furthering their private advantage.

From the more detailed description of the qualities with which these three types of leaders are respectively endowed it would appear that:

  • The smallest group of only nine leaders represents the genuine activist who takes his cause seriously, for whom it is a worldview, a definite way of looking at things;
  • The largest group is represented by the sixty-seven leaders who would be the natural material for a Boy Scout movement. These sixty-seven leaders are described as genuinely interested in other boys, moderately interested in abstract ideas, and fond of hikes and outdoor camping.
  • The third group of seventeen leaders is described as consisting of persons who have little or no idealism or character, but enough ambition, drive, and personal salesmanship to exploit for their own benefit any given situation. They represent the selfish careerist who is primarily interested in promoting himself rather than ideas or other persons.

Dedication and Leadership

Thus the classification of the leadership group into three types shows the following: First, the number of genuine leaders who can be counted upon to stand by their cause and party is only nine out of one hundred.

At the other extreme, those who look upon their leadership primarily as a means of self-promotion number seventeen, that is, almost twice as many as the genuine leaders. The careerists and unreliable leaders thus outnumber the devoted idealist leaders by two to one. The middle group, too, is very interesting. It suggests by its very size that the bulk of leaders have no firm convictions or loyalties one way or another save in terms of personal contacts.

In any disaster the third group of the seventeen careerist leaders will be the first to leave the sinking ship. However, like clever rats they will not jump into the cold water but will try to land on another ship bound for a haven of refuge and prosperity. The first group of the idealistic nine leaders will be the group of leaders who will probably attempt resistance as long as possible and remain loyal to their cause. The middle group will be most likely to adopt a policy of “wait and see”, and then join another organization where they can hike in moonlit nights and camp on high mountain peaks. If they are older leaders, their sense of comradely fellowship will express itself in joining or leading another organization, as long as it has plenty of meetings in which much is debated and a good deal of coffee and cigarettes consumed.

Hazan's selfie with Trump
Hazan's selfie with Trump Oren Hazan

MK Rachel Azaria (Kulanu), who is partner in a coalition with Hazan as a member said yesterday, "We held a discussion on the conduct of Knesset Member Oren Hazan and we decided to punish him again. When we turned to MK Hazan to tell him he was suspended again, he became very angry and demanded to address the committee, although until then he refused to attend. He said very harsh things and made all kinds of threats against himself." When asked whether Knesset Member Hazan threatened to end his life, MK Azaria responded positively, and even claimed MK Hazan would "blame the committee members".

It is possible that we are witnessing the Bob Munsons and Seab Cooleys of the Knesset in the process of destroying a dangerous demagogue in their midst. Hazan explicitly named Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein as one of those aiming to "wipe him out". It appears Hazan is being whittled down politically even as we speak.

When asked if he had threatened to end to his life, Hazan said: "It's a lie from the Land of Lies, I have a wife, a girl, charming radio interviews, and a nation that needs me to sound its cry in the Knesset. A member of the Ethics Committee is putting out lies..." Sleep, nation; I will sound your cry in the Knesset so you can continue whatever you're doing. I will promote myself in your name as you wallow in your mediocrity.

Hazan: Which type of leader?
Hazan: Which type of leader? Flash 90

The dedicated leader, on the other hand, is able to inspire those standing on the sidelines watching him fight and admiring him for all he's doing but who normally wouldn't get directly involved. Watching a true leader, people might say, "I'm starting to feel that at a time like this I have no right to be just a spectator while he gives so much. I feel compelled to join him in the struggle. Unless I do so, I'll feel that I'm betraying my nation and myself."

This, then is the measure of the true leader: The tendency to bring out the best in others through guileless, uncalculated personal example. The alternative type are bad by degrees but what these careerists all hold in common varies from willingness to eagerness to exchange the granduer of what's possible for the safety of the familiar status quo. They represent alienation from self on the individual and national levels, as their power flows from their subjects' abdication of responsibilty and renunciation of greatness.

Where do we find dedicated leaders? They do not specialize in exempting their followers from reality and responsibilty. True leaders are the ones who are centered on transcendental truths upon which people can focus and structure their lives. In Torah we call them tzaddikim - as in, "Amech kulam tzaddikim" - Your entire nation are righteous leaders. Our revival may be advanced by individual acts of thought and volition, acts with the Divine power to herald in the profound transformation that characterizes the waning sunset of the Jewish exile.

Sunset iStock
Hazan poses for selfie with statue of Culture Minister Miri Regev
Hazan poses for selfie with statue of Culture Minister Miri Regev Flash 90

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