Political Leadership

Political Leadership

New Horizons in Public Policy series

Howard Elcock

Political leadership is a concept central to understanding political processes and outcomes, yet its definition is elusive. Many disciplines have contributed to the study of leadership, including political theory, history, psychology and management studies. Political Leadership reviews the contributions of these disciplines along with a discussion of the work of classic authors such as Niccolo Machiavelli, Max Weber and Robert Michels.

Chapter 8: The Apparatus of Leadership

Howard Elcock

Subjects: politics and public policy, leadership


INTRODUCTION Having identified the various roles leaders play, we next consider a series of devices intended to improve the decisions leaders make. They have in common the assumptions underlying Handy’s style and contingency theories (1993: 100ff) because they change the contexts within which leaders function. Political leaders need access to appropriate sources of advice and support if they are to be able to ensure that their chosen sets of values prevail and that they can implement their election pledges. They also need information and advice to deal with the unexpected problems and crises which constantly beset them. Many leaders also aspire to improve the performance of the government machines of which they have been given charge, especially because the opportunities to do so that are offered by developments in personnel and financial management, as well as in information and communications technologies, have increased enormously. At the same time, and partly because of rapid technological innovation, the problems with which leaders need to deal have also increased in their number and variety. They now include global warming, over-population, fossil fuel depletion and increasing pollution. Hence both the problems facing political leaders and the means available for them to address them have increased faster than leaders’ ability either to cope with the problems or to take advantage of the opportunities offered by new technologies and scientific discoveries (see Dror, 1973:10). Thus Dror argues that attempts to improve the quality of leaders’ decisions will involve ‘rather substantial departures from present working methods,...

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