Madness and Leadership

Madness and Leadership

From Antiquity to the New Common Era

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Savvas Papacostas

Madness and Leadership studies leaders and followers from social, cultural, and biologic perspectives and explores aspects of their personalities that induce them to assume their respective roles. It proposes that leadership and followership are evolutionary adaptations, developed to enhance survival and group cohesion; that leaders possess certain biologically-derived personality traits which set them apart and alert followers, consciously or unconsciously, of their status. Important factors that enhance leader emergence have been linked through evolution and are constituents of all societies past and present. Within political theories and historical examples, this book carries the discussion on leadership into a new direction by suggesting that mild psychopathology is one of its central components.

Chapter 7: Politics and mental illness

Savvas Papacostas

Subjects: business and management, business leadership


Man is naturally a political animal. Aristotle, Politics Aristotle said that man is a political animal, and as such, he requires the social medium in order to function in roles of leadership. To achieve that, ‘leaders can persuade followers by good arguments’ (Gardner 1995). But are these good stories people tell one another enough to gain an entourage, let alone a multitude of followers? Certainly not, since the leader’s personality traits and behaviour also play a significant role. As Hoyt et al. (2006) state ‘other elements matter greatly’. They continue: Is the leader someone with whom followers might identify, or trust and believe? Has the leader presented his or her message in a manner that encourages receptivity and credulity? Personal characteristics are important here, but so are contextual features, such as illustration, easily remembered slogans and impressive-looking documentation. It is imperative that the leader at least appears to care for his subjects. Whereas the psychological literature often assumes that the goals of leaders and followers are the same (Hogg 2001), an evolutionary perspective suggests that this may be an unfounded assumption (Van Vugt 2006). Ray (2011) says that, ‘The basic definition of leadership is the person who rises above the crowd and gets something done.’ A successful leader must be willing to pay a price in order to succeed.

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