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 11: A Throne of Blood: Deploying the Tools of Tyranny

Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries

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


A tyrannical sultan is better than constant anarchy. (Egyptian proverb) Any excuse will serve a tyrant. (Aesop, Aesop’s Fables) I have almost forgot the taste of fears. The time has been my senses would have cooled To hear a night-shriek, and my fell of hair Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir As life were in’t. I have supped full with horrors; Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts, Cannot once start me. (William Shakespeare, Macbeth) Twixt Kings and Tyrants there’s this difference known; Kings seek their Subjects’ good: Tyrants their owne. (Robert Herrick, Kings and Tyrants) A tyrant … is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader. (Plato, The Republic) Where laws end, tyranny begins. (William Pitt the elder, speech, House of Lords) [W]e are apt to forget that the vast majority of men and women who fell under the totalitarian spell was activated by unselfish motives, ready to accept the role of martyr or executioner, as the cause demanded. (Arthur Koestler, The Invisible Writing) It takes two to make a murder. There are born victims, born to have their throats cut. (Aldous Huxley, Point Counterpoint) A profile of Shaka has emerged from the preceding chapters. He was an extraordinary individual – no question there. A complex man capable of feelings of affection and tenderness, he attained renown because of his brutality. His pride in self and nation, his rhetorical ability, and his skills at 161 CHAPTER 11 25/10/04 1:03...

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