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 12: Dancing with Vampires: Preventing Tyranny through Effective Governance

Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries

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


He conquered every country, Where can he conquer now? He! He! Eya Eee! He vanquished chiefs, He vanquished nations, Where can he conquer now? (Magema Fuze, Shaka war song, The Black People) We have buried the putrid corpse of liberty. (Benito Mussolini, speech, 1934) A single death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic. (Joseph Stalin, attributed) Kill a man, and you are a murderer. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill everyone, and you are a god. (Jean Rostand, Pensées d’un biologiste) Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. (Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience) An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. (Mahatma Gandhi, Non-Violence in Peace and War) Liberty is the hardest test that one can inflict on a people. To know how to be free is not given equally to all men and all nations. (Paul Valéry, On the Subject of Dictatorship) No matter what part of the world we come from, we are all basically the same human beings. We all seek happiness and try to avoid suffering. (Dalai Lama, Speech on Acceptance of the Nobel Prize for Peace) Shaka’s life story reminds us that all leaders are susceptible to the darker side of power and warns us that no single individual should ever be in complete control of an organization, community or society. That human susceptibility to cruelty and violence turns people in high positions into...

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