False Leaders Often Arise During Moments of Crises

Crises reveal false leaders, along with their inability to offer or implement effective solutions to problems or challenges.
False Leaders Often Arise During Moments of Crises

Last update: 28 June, 2021

What’s the main characteristic of false leaders? They’re people who are in charge for reasons other than their ability or competence to guide or achieve the common objectives of a group. Crises are excellent opportunities to bring to light what those in charge are truly made of.

As you can probably guess, crises are also moments of unresolved complexities and uncertainty. Those with leaders expect them to take the reins of the situation and show the way. During these moments, false leaders become exposed. They’re those who don’t only not take charge but actually worsen problems.

Many false leaders compensate for their incompetence with a relatively effective weapon in this era: political marketing. One of the traits of such leaderless leaders is precisely that of devoting more energy to covering up their failures than to solving problems.

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they’re ravening wolves.”

-Matthew 7:15-

A politician during a speech.

False leaders and honesty

It’s clear that honesty isn’t the forte of false leaders. They’ve attained management positions through shortcuts. For example, they’re either related to the owner of the company, deceived voters, or paid to be where they are, and so on. In short, they didn’t get to where they are through their own merit.

Thus, they’re false leaders mainly because they put their personal interests first. As you can see, a genuine leader represents the interests of many and seeks collective, not individual, welfare.

The latter immediately becomes evident when a crisis arises. A false leader will protect themselves and their interests first and foremost in the face of threats, rather than offer a solution that benefits the group in spite of their own best interests.

Unpopular or shocking decisions

Crises, especially the most serious ones, often require decisions that are unpopular or odious to some sector or group. For example, during an economic crisis, the best way out is to lower the salaries of top executives. They obviously won’t be happy with this situation.

Likewise, it may be necessary to restrict some activities in the face of a health crisis, as it recently happened. Many people resent these limits for many reasons. However, it’s the most convenient thing to safeguard the majority.

Only a true leader is capable of making such decisions. They aren’t interested in preserving their acceptance or favorability capital, but in solving the underlying problem. The well-being of the majority is what guides their criteria and they deal with lack of understanding or rejection as a secondary issue. False leaders, however, often make decisions just to gain acceptance.

A puppet master manipulating people.

Self-interest and marketing

Many leaders, especially politicians, make intensive use of marketing in times of crisis. Their goal is to make decisions that favor them while promoting the idea that such decisions benefit the majority.

Furthermore, they seek to maintain a good image, given that crises don’t always have immediate solutions and wear down the public image of those in charge.

The false leader acts under the premise of “every person for themselves” and, of course, it’s the first to jump ship. However, they know it could jeopardize their future interests and this is why they cover up their actions under a cloak of propaganda.

Actions such as the following are common:

  • A false leader promotes false optimism and seeks to reduce the critical attitude of those being led towards management.
  • They misinform by presenting biased data. Thus, instead of saying that 20,000 people died, they talk about how many recovered.
  • They find inefficient but shocking solutions rather than real solutions. This is because they’re oriented towards actions that cause emotional effects. In the end, it’s all about showing off rather than actual progress.
  • False leaders seldom solve anything themselves. However, it eventually becomes evident and they always blame an external factor for their inefficiency.

False leaders do a lot of damage because they hold power, but only use it to their advantage. It doesn’t matter what position a person holds or how well the press talks about them. A good leader is evident by their effective results, and not by the pomp and circumstance that may surround their actions.

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  • Torres, B. E. M. (2020). Líderes y liderazgo. Editorial Universidad de Guadalajara.