Between prophets and kings: an analysis of leadership in the modern world

Leadership is a quality that has been the object of study and admiration throughout human history.

Since ancient times, two main leadership archetypes have been identified: the prophet leader and the king leader. These two types of leadership have left their mark on society and continue to be relevant in today’s world.

The prophet leader. As its name indicates, it has a vision for the future. It anticipates events, points the way to the future and denounces what is happening in the present. He is the visionary, the one who has the ability to see beyond the obvious and inspire others with his vision. Historical examples such as Moses, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela show us how these prophet leaders have left an indelible mark on history, guiding their people towards a better future.

The king leader. It is one that focuses on implementation and results. You have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and are willing to take concrete steps to achieve your goals. The king leader is pragmatic and action-oriented. Contemporary examples such as Steve Jobs, Angela Merkel and Jeff Bezos illustrate how these leaders have been able to implement their visions and transform them into tangible realities.

In the actual world. We can see how these two types of leadership manifest themselves in different areas. For example, political leaders like Mikhail Gorbachev, who undertook both transparency and execution reforms during his tenure in the Soviet Union, are clear examples of how prophet leadership and king leadership can coexist in one person. Gorbachev first pointed out the problems and then implemented concrete solutions, as part of his comprehensive reform vision.

However, it is also important to highlight the challenges and limitations of each type of leadership. Prophet leaders can sometimes be seen as authoritarian or overly idealistic, while king leaders can face criticism for their lack of long-term vision or overly pragmatic approach.

In recent decades, a type of negative leadership has emerged that combines the traits of the prophet leader with a deliberately wrong view of reality with those of a king leader who knows how to achieve his purposes for his own benefit. Let’s see an explanatory example of how it works:

Hunting wild pigs. The hunters throw the corn on the ground and wait for the pigs to come. Then they build a fence while they arrive attracted to obtain the food without effort. At the end they put an entrance door. When the last one enters, access is closed, they can no longer leave and with the free corn they no longer try. They forget to hunt, they lose their freedom and they do not see that the hand that feeds them is the same one that takes them to the slaughterhouse.

A populist government does the same, under the protective mantle of the word democracy. He gives the workers everything for free in exchange for slavery. They receive bread and circuses, transportation, alms, welfare plans, etc. All this is taken out of their pockets without them noticing. They rob them of the ability to be critical, to think for themselves and to undertake.

All that wonderful government aid is a threat that endangers the democracy of any country. At some point they must become aware or close their eyes and become pigs and wait for slaughter in exchange for a little corn.

There is no populism without wealth. Once in power, Fidel Castro prophesied that Cuba’s standard of living would be higher than that of the United States. He eliminated private activity, the black market, censorship and repression grew. Abandoned to her fate, after the fall of the USSR, she no longer had the help it offered her, epidemics multiplied and bicycles or oxen replaced cars and tractors. The Cuban spent the day looking for food, the deaths and suicides rose to the clouds; Schools and hospitals fell to pieces.

Fidel then modified his speech: he said goodbye to immoral modernity, he fought against wealth and not against getting out of poverty. Being poor was an honor. Utopia became a discourse. Cristina Kirchner said that Fidel was the last modern leader. That affinity led Argentina into a devastating spiral of poverty, turning many Argentines who voted for her into ignorance and turning the country into a Factory of the Poor.

A happy world. Aldous Huxley predicted the dark side of technology in 1932. In a happy world, everyone would accept their role in the social machinery, war and poverty would be eradicated and they would be happy, but eliminating human values. Desire, unlike pleasure, is a source of suffering. The solution would be to replace it with your satisfaction. But the society we live in tries to increase desire to unprecedented proportions. For the endless competition to continue, desire has to grow, spread and devour the lives of men.

A perfect dictatorship would have the appearance of democracy, but it would be a prison without walls from which prisoners would not even dream of escaping. It would be a system of slavery, in which thanks to consumption and entertainment, slaves would love servitude.

Can man survive? New predictions were added, such as that of Erich Fromm who in the year 2000 prophesied that man would not be able to survive as things are going. He believed that the “rebirth of the spirit of humanism” was the only solution to the widespread crisis of values; and that if general disarmament and a modus vivendi between the superpowers were not achieved, nuclear cataclysm would be inevitable. Today technology is going up the elevator while man, if he goes up, does it up the stairs.

In education, prophetic leadership can manifest itself in the ability of principals to anticipate future trends in education and inspire their teaching teams to adopt innovative approaches. On the other hand, king leadership is reflected in the ability to implement effective educational policies and programs that generate tangible results in student learning.

It is crucial to recognize that, in today’s world, the challenges we face are increasingly complex and multidimensional. Therefore, we need leaders who can combine long-term vision with the ability to effectively execute. Only in this way can we face the challenges of the 21st century and build a more prosperous and sustainable future for all.