Senior Leadership and Insanity

By | July 22, 2014

[July 22, 2014] There are many types of leaders from the most charismatic to the most introverted and inward thinking. My best friend when he was younger and a lieutenant had a commander who would issue the craziest of orders to his unit. My friend was told once to drive his armored vehicles up and down the road until they “run out of fuel” – so they could practice re-fueling operations. Some people have suggested that there is a relationship between leadership and insanity.

Senior LeadershipCaligula1 of Ancient Rome is probably the most infamous of insane senior leaders. Those of the modern era that come to mind are Adolf Hitler (Nazi Germany), Joseph Stalin (Soviet Russia), and Pol Pot (Cambodia). Many will argue that these three were not insane, usually because these dictators all were socialists and it doesn’t fit a certain ideological narrative. Yet, anyone who has read anything in depth about them would agree that a particular characteristic defined them would put them in the insane category. They were responsible for the killing of millions of their own citizens.

It’s not to say that an insane leader starts out that way. In all four of these cases, each began with some respect from their citizens but lost it along the path of leadership. For example, Caligula was known as a noble and moderate ruler for at least half a year. Later he became sadistic, cruel, extravagant, and had an intense sexual perversity. Caligula has the honor of becoming the first Roman Emperor to be assassinated. His personal Praetorian Guard, members of the Roman Senate, and the Imperial Court had enough of his insanity and killed him.

My friend’s commander was later relieved of his command and placed in a staff officer job that required no supervision or leadership over soldiers. The unit’s morale improved immediately and many years later this same unit was one of the first to cross into Iraq in the April 2003.

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[1] Interestingly, Caligula was not his real name. It was Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus. Roman soldiers called him Caligula as a child. The soldiers saw him dressed in a miniature soldier’s uniform including boots and armor. The name Caligula means “little soldier’s boot” in Latin, supposedly after the small boots he wore as part of the uniform.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

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