Poor Leadership and Bad Governance

Poor Leadership and Bad Governance

Reassessing Presidents and Prime Ministers in North America, Europe and Japan

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Edited by Ludger Helms

Focusing on the presidents and prime ministers of the G8 – the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan – it explores the complex relationship between weak and ineffective leadership, undemocratic leadership techniques, and bad policies from a broad comparative perspective. What makes leaders weak or bad in different contexts? What are the consequences of their actions and behaviour? And has there been any learning from negative experience? These questions are at the centre of this fascinating joint inquiry that involves a team of truly distinguished leadership scholars.

Chapter 8: Leadership, Governance and Statecraft in Russia

Richard Sakwa

Subjects: business and management, business leadership, politics and public policy, leadership


Richard Sakwa Leadership is one of the most intangible and yet crucial issues in political studies. One does not have to adopt Carlyle’s view that history is little more than the story of ‘Great Men’ to accept that particular personalities are able to capture the spirit of an age and to wrench the trajectory of nations from their customary moorings. Yet there is always a tension between, on the one hand, ‘the routine aspects of social organization and the organized, continuous life of social institutions’, and, on the other hand, charismatic authority (Eisenstadt 1968: ix). The question of what makes a ‘good’ ruler has been at the centre of political philosophy since its inception. Several elements are crucial to the study of leadership, notably the role of ideas, the quality of policies, and the institutional and cultural context in which leadership is practiced. The question of leadership is an enduring feature of human development, and indeed much of history is concerned with analysing the strengths and weaknesses of particular leaders. However, while leadership is a trans-historical phenomenon, each leader is deeply rooted in ‘world time’ and the challenges, ideas and prejudices of a particular era. Russia and the Soviet Union appear to have been particularly cursed with poor leadership. Even his most ardent fans would be hard-pressed to argue that Tsar Nicolas II was an effective manager of the Russian Empire, blundering into wars and provoking revolution while alienating the most competent of his own officials. There is no doubt...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information