Lessons on Leadership by Terror

Lessons on Leadership by Terror

Finding Shaka Zulu in the Attic

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries

Lessons on Leadership by Terror attempts to discover what happens to people when they acquire power, and whether the abuse of power is inevitable. Manfred Kets de Vries examines the life of the nineteenth-century Zulu king Shaka Zulu in order to help us understand the psychology of power and terror

Chapter 5: Monte Cristo in Africa: Seeking Revenge for Past Wrongs

Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries

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


Now hear! The elephant smashed everything; there was nothing left! The elephant smashed everything; there was nothing left! The branches of the tree were broken, there was nothing left, There were only the uprooted stumps to be seen, They were turned upside down! As they were overturned, so men died! (Mtshayankomo ka Magolwana, The James Stuart Archive) The way down to hell is easy. (Virgil, Aeneid) Revenge, at first though sweet, Bitter ere long back on itself recoils. (John Milton, Paradise Lost) I rage, I melt, I burn, The feeble God has stab’d me to the Heart. (John Gay, Acis and Galatea) Heav’n has no rage, like love to hatred turned, Nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorn’d. (William Congreve, The Mourning Bride) Perish the Universe, provided I have my revenge. (Cyrano de Bergerac, La Mort d’Agrippine) No more tears now; I will think upon revenge. (Mary, Queen of Scots, said upon the murder of her secretary) The young Shaka must have been attuned to his mother’s outrage at being treated like an outcast, and to her resulting depression and bitterness. Given the intensity of the maternal–child relationship, a mother’s feelings of distress are easily transmitted and internalized by her child. Particularly in the early stages of a young person’s development, there is great interconnectedness of emotions between mother and child. However, because of the child’s powerlessness, his or her initial reaction to maternal distress signals is anxiety and frustration at not being able to help her. If...

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