New Horizons in Leadership Studies series
Chapter 3: Personality and political ambition
Realism and the strategic perspective explain leaders’ political ambition as something predetermined by the nature of international anarchy (realism) or by the requirements for political survival in democracies and autocracies (strategic perspective). These theories are not interested in the traditional view of leadership, in which individuals can have a greater degree of superior qualities such as courage, moderation, prudence, justice, and patriotism. In addition, some leaders have a much greater store of political ambition than others. This traditional perspective attaches critical importance to the character traits that are requisite for leadership, and the variation in these qualities has important consequences for politics. Realism and the strategic perspective emphasize the instrumental decisions that leaders should make when faced with different circum- stances. Theories of statesmanship seek to explain how the correct assemblage of character traits fosters its practice, or how an incomplete or flawed character can lead to failure.
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