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    Brave New World

    Dictatorial CEOs

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    John Harrison
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    We know about dictators, we know that such charismatic people are able to not only convince the masses to follow them, but also to control their own "lieutenants" with the force of their personalities. How prevalent are the techniques dictators use in the running of large corporations and even countries today?

    Australian Jeff Schubert who wrote a book on the subject called: ‘Dictatorial CEOs' expresses some of his views on the subject.

    The main character traits of people who fall under the character of dictators are, according to Jeff: "Self-belief. This is very important. That self-belief may have been present from a very young age, or it may have become a stronger force due to their time in power. They have to want power. Sometimes people want that from an early age, but once again, time and experience can lead to an increase in desire for real power. I guess the other important thing is the ability to inspire people, to lead, to create fear, a stick and carrot approach if you like. Something to make people want to follow you as lieutenants. But also the ability to inspire large sections of the population into believing that you are God maybe. People want to believe in something and if they don't have a God to believe in, they often will start believing in a particular person, a physical man or a woman, who can actually deliver what they perceive to be their needs."

    Jeff explains how the ‘lieutenant psychology' works: "If the lieutenant believes in the dictator, they [the lieutenant] often gets personal satisfaction from that. Also, it is often associated with the fact that these lieutenants believe that the dictatorial person is actually doing good things for their company — it can be a big company, or a small company. It can be a sporting association, it can be a business association, even, in my view it can be countries. Countries can behave like dictators as well."

    Gatekeepers are also prevalent when there are dictatorial CEOs. "Gatekeepers are always present in any large organization. They are the people who filter who gets to talk to, who gets to influence the CEO. They become very important players because of this ability….Sometimes the gatekeeper can play a negative role in filtering who gets to talk to the big boss."

    The appearance of dictators on a country level does not seem to be dependent on particular economic systems such as capitalism or communism. Jeff explains: "It is more to do with the way that people think. There can be a dictatorship in a communist system as well as in a free market system….In the case of the Soviet Union we had Stalin who ran the whole country. In the case of the United States, we have Donald Trump who has the sort of personality who would become one quite quickly except that he is being restrained by the institutional framework…"

    To the question: "Are we forever destined to be ruled by dictators?" Jeff answers: "I think so. I only wrote about people from Napoleon onwards because we have more documentary evidence about what they were like, and what their lieutenants thought… you see it everywhere. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was only one power. We saw the birth of American exceptionalism that led to the United States believing that it was so exceptional that it could do whatever it wants. I think we have seen what the consequences of that are in terms of turmoil in the Middle East, and the expansion of NATO….More recently we have had issues arising with China. America does not like the fact that there is a new power rising…"

    Some of the other themes discussed in the program include whether or not being a dictator is a male thing or not, and the use of education to dissuade young people from following dictators. 

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    Tags:
    CEO, dictatorship, countries, corporations, psychology
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