Forms of leadership

There are three kinds of leadership: coercive, charismatic, and conventional.

Coercive leadership is what you get in a dictatorship, or a pack of dogs. The leader is whoever took the post by force. They stay in power as long as they can defeat or deter challengers, which requires that the leader is the strongest, literally or in the sense of being the most ruthless. There is a top-down power structure that keeps the majority in line by reminding them that they have no choice.

Charismatic leadership is what you find in a band, or other relatively fresh voluntary association. The leader is perceived as being the best at whatever is the aim of the organization. Followers follow the leader because they value their inspiration and direction. Any challengers would have to demonstrate superior ability, rather than attack the leader as such.

Conventional leadership is the kind found in democratic states and other large, mature organizations. The leader has no distinguishing characteristics other than fairness and commitment. The members of the organization subscribe to the leadership because they see the benefits of structure and coherence. The leader is expected to identify and publish a consensus direction, but not primarily to steer the group.

All three kinds of leadership have validity, including the coercive one in certain contexts. Problems in leadership typically occur when the leader misrepresents, is not true to, or changes the kind of leadership that they are in charge of.

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Marketing in software

Apple marketing
Hey, we understand you. You want a laptop to do these five or six things, right? Here, we’ve built one for you that’s very attractive and well-made and does the things that you want really, really well.

Microsoft marketing
You don’t really know what you want from your PC, and neither do we. We’re all in the same boat! So we made this software that has a whole bunch of features. Put it in your PC and it’ll do things. By the way your friends all have it, so if you go with the flow you’ll be able to share stuff.

Open Source marketing
User! You have no idea what you need and we’re not even going to attempt to tell you. Behind this link is our latest software, which we’re very proud of. If you use it, maybe you will see…

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The one useful thing I learned at school

Despite being a good student, I never had a high opinion of school. I felt, and still mostly feel, that school is where you learn to feign respect to superiors who are less smart than yourself, and get used to spending half your day indoors, sitting at a desk. That’s what school is for. It’s to prepare intelligent, active, vibrant kinds for an adult life of compliance and submission.

Despite this, somehow, the Greek school system managed to give me one valuable teaching.

It was the story of Antigone, by Sophocles. The story opens after an insurgency. Antigone’s brother, who had attempted to overthrow the king, has been defeated and lies dead on the street. The king declares that he is not to be buried, as a form of debasement. Antigone insists that he has to be buried, because that is their duty to the gods. They both insist, and the substance of the play is them making their case. The king sets out the formal, legal right. Antigone, the individual, argues that there is a moral right. The legal and the moral right are not always the same. And when they differ the moral right is compelling.

I don’t know how this 2500 year old brazen story of humanist conviction and rebellion managed to make it through the stolid, reactionary school system and be taught saliently in substance. But I’m grateful.

What makes us happy

There’s around six things that motivate us through life.


Pleasure
We seek physical pleasure. Sex, food, music and dance, or anything that gives a bodilly sense of intense pleasure. We’re wired for it in obvious and direct ways. What’s remarkable about pleasure is marginalized it is in our society. We build the world around us but we don’t build it for pleasure. In your city you might find pleasure in a brothel or a spa, or in a nightclub that’s devoted to adult pleasure. These are seen as indulgences, at best. You might find some dilute, socially acceptable pleasure in a great restaurant, in music, or at the gym.

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