Political leadership and its development

Hartley, Jean (2012). Political leadership and its development. In: Weinberg, Ashley ed. The Psychology of Politicians. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 97–120.

URL: http://www.cambridge.org/gb/knowledge/isbn/item727...


The literature about political leadership is relatively sparse, and somewhat disparate, across psychology, sociology and political science, with relatively few studies taking an integrative approach (Hartley and Benington, 2011; Morrell and Hartley, 2006). In that sense, not much has changed since the comment by one of the founders of the leadership field, Stogdill, who noted: "Leadership in various segments of the population (students, military personnel and businessmen) [has] been heavily researched while others (politicians, labour leaders, and criminal leaders) have been relatively neglected" (quoted in Blondel, 1987, p.1). In the generic leadership literature, charismatic and highly visible leaders, such as J. F. Kennedy, Thatcher or Mandela, are widely quoted as examples of leadership, but only rarely is the political, policy and public context of ther work acknowleded (though see Burns, 1978; Heifetz, 1994; Tucker, 1995). Instead, they are often treated as examples of typical - if somewhat heroic- leadership and the distinctiveness of their political leadership occluded. On the other hand, the disciplines concerned with politicians, such as political science and public administration, have neglected political leadership in part with their greater focus on institutions and regimes, and also because the traditional view was that politicians (national and local) make policy while public servants executed that policy, leaving little room for leadership (Hartley, 2010a; Behn, 1998). for politicians, leadership, other than by very senior figures such as prime ministers and presidents, was not countenanced because their work was mandated by their political party, their manifesto and the electorate. Leadership development was also irrelevant because performance would be judged at the ballot box, and in the interim, at the despatch box.

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