Paradoxes of political leadership

Paradoxes of political leadership

Article received: 2023.02.02. Accepted: 2023.03.06

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2023.03.13

For citation:

Shestopal Ye.B. Paradoxes of political leadership. – Polis. Political Studies. 2023. No. 3. P. 181-191. (In Russ.). EDN: TGAEET


The author shares her reflections on four recent books on the problem of leadership (Jerzy J. Wiatr. Political Leadership between Democracy and Authoritarianism. Comparative and Historical Perspectives. Berlin, Toronto: Verlag Barbara Budrich Opladen, 2022; Leader against the background of the era. Traditions and innovation of political leadership in Western countries. L.S. Okuneva (Еd.). Moscow: MGIMO University, 2022; Medvedev R. Andreev N. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. Personality and leadership. Moscow, AIRO XXI; 2021; Henry Kissinger. Guidance. Six studies in World Strategy, Penguin Press, NY: 2022). These publications appeared after several decades of critical shortage of works on this topic in political science. The author investigates what led to the awakening of so much interest in leadership and analyzes these reasons both against the background of the political realities of recent times, and in the light of the development of political science. Although it is too early to conclude from these publications alone that we face a revival of the interest to the problem of leadership in political science, but the interest to it by several significant authors at once suggests that academic political science is trying to respond to the clearly increased demand of the society for strong leaders. Obviously, the growth of interest in leadership will require both new empirical research and a lot of theoretical work to update the toolkit, primarily in the field of political psychology. …And here it is insufficient to return the theory of leadership in the framework of the traditional subject of political science. However, the case is not limited to this one sub-discipline. The paradoxes of leadership described in the article point to the crisis of all political science knowledge, its basic categorical apparatus, which is unable to adequately describe the changed political reality. And here it is insufficient to return the theory of leadership in framework of the traditional subject of political science. We will have to rethink much of what came to us from Western political science, in particular, those categories that have not matched reality for a long time, for example, the categories of authoritarianism and democracy that have become ideological clichés. Leadership has become one of the victims of the dogmatic interpretation of democracy, as it has come to be perceived as an unnecessary, and even dangerous, legacy of archaic authoritarian political systems. Rather, we should talk about a leadership deficit, and most often in countries that are trying to teach democracy to others. This deficit is felt by people no less acutely than the shortage of energy resources or food.

leadership theory, personality and role of the leader, political process, subject matter of political science, democracy, authoritarianism.


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Wiatr, J.J. (2022). Political leadership between democracy and authoritarianism. Comparative and historical perspectives. Berlin, Toronto: Verlag Barbara Budrich. 


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Content No. 3, 2023

See also:

Oleynov A.G.,
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Zorin V.A.,
Models of Russian presidents political leadership. – Polis. Political Studies. 2010. No4

Sungurov A.Yu.,
Human rights as subject of political science and as interdisciplinary conception. – Polis. Political Studies. 2010. No6

De Landtsheer C., Hollander Sh., Maene P.,
Brexit and Political Personality: The Psychological Profiles of Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn. – Polis. Political Studies. 2021. No6

Yelizarov V.P.,
The Elitist Theory of Democracy and the Contemporary Russian Political Process. – Polis. Political Studies. 1999. No1



Introducing an article

Polis. Political Studies
4 2010

Zorin V.A.
Models of Russian presidents political leadership

 The article text


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