Donald Trump Jewel Samad/Getty Images

Willen we sterke leiders?

CAMBRIDGE – Een trend naar een autoritairder vorm van besturen lijkt zich over de hele wereld te verspreiden. Vladimir Poetin heeft het nationalisme met succes gebruikt om zijn greep op Rusland te verstevigen en lijkt zich in een grote populariteit te mogen verheugen. Xi Jinping wordt gezien als China's sterkste leider sinds Mao Zedong, nu hij het voorzitterschap bekleedt van een toenemend aantal cruciale besluitvormingscommissies. De Turkse president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan heeft onlangs zijn premier vervangen door een plooibaarder figuur, in zijn streven om de uitvoerende macht in zijn persoon te concentreren. En sommige commentatoren zijn bang dat als Donald Trump in november de Amerikaanse presidentsverkiezingen wint, hij zou kunnen uitgroeien tot een “Amerikaanse Mussolini.”

Machtsmisbruik is zo oud als de menselijke geschiedenis. De Bijbel herinnert ons eraan dat nadat David Goliath had verslagen en later koning was geworden, hij Bathseba verleidde en haar man doelbewust een zekere dood in de strijd tegemoet stuurde. Leiderschap omvat het gebruik van macht, en macht corrumpeert, zoals Lord Acton heeft gewaarschuwd. En toch kunnen leiders zonder macht – het vermogen om anderen te laten doen wat ze willen – niet leiden.

De Harvard-psycholoog David C. McClelland heeft ooit drie groepen mensen onderscheiden aan de hand van hun motivatie. Degenen die er het meest om geven iets beter te doen hebben “behoefte om te presteren.” Degenen die het meest nadenken over het onderhouden van vriendschappelijke betrekkingen met anderen hebben “behoefte om zich te hechten.” En degenen die er het meest om geven invloed op anderen te kunnen uitoefenen tonen een “behoefte aan macht.”

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