Why Do Leaders Exist?

May 22, 2007

Why do leaders exist in the first place? I think this originally had to do with emergencies, which are perceived moments of resource scarcity. Let’s say you graph a population making questions and decisions. And lets say it adopts a bell curve distribution. I think the non-emergency versus emergency would look like this.ecomp

In an emergency, resources appear scarce and people give up questioning, planning, and judgement to a minority whose size relative to the population depends on the scale of the emergency. This lines up as many resources as possible behind one plan of action for maximum effect.

Obviously this isn’t the only reason leaders exist. Although it might explain why leaders are sometimes the cause of crises or support perpetual crisis states. Leaders offer inspiration and non-emergency group cohesion. At their best, they establish culture and structure useful limitations around power.

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