Psychology of Leadership

Jefferies Jiang
4 min readOct 18, 2021

When I ask groups of managers what makes a good leader, I rarely have to wait long for someone to say “Vision!” and everyone nods. I have asked this question countless times over the past 20 years to groups of senior executives, middle managers, and young students from different sectors, industries, backgrounds, and countries. The answer is always the same: a vision inspires and moves people. Expansion, domination, freedom, equality, salvation, whatever it is, if a leader’s vision gives us direction and hope, we will follow him. If he doesn’t have one, he can’t call himself a leader.
This vision spell, in my opinion, is the manifestation of a bigger problem: a disembodied concept of leadership. Visions catch our imagination, but they rarely have a positive effect on our bodies. In fact, we often sacrifice our bodies to pursue various visions and celebrate this fact, whether it is dying for our countries or working until exhaustion for our companies. Visions work the same way, whether they are held by mystics or leaders: they promise the future and they challenge our lives. In some cases this sacrifice is worth it. It is not with others. Just as it can ignite us, a vision can burn us.
When the attraction of a leader is based solely on a vision, the leadership is not complete. And the limits of this visionary leadership become painfully obvious in times of crisis, uncertainty, or radical change. Take the coronavirus pandemic as an example. Nobody had something like that in their “Vision 2020”. Crises always test visions and most do not survive. Because in the event of a factory fire, a sudden drop in sales, or a natural disaster, we don’t need a call to action. We are already motivated to move, but often we get it right. What we need is some kind of support to be able to move with determination. What do I mean by keep? The term has a special meaning in psychology. It describes how another person, often a person of authority, contains and interprets what is happening in times of uncertainty. Include refers to the ability to alleviate suffering and indicate the ability to help others understand a confusing situation. Think of a CEO who, in a severe recession, assures employees that the company has the resources to weather the storm and protects most jobs, helps them interpret sales data, and gives them clear instructions on what to do to serve existing customers and develop new business. This manager endures — thinks clearly, provides assurance, guides people, and helps keep people together. This work is as important as inspiring others. In fact, this is a requirement for…

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