Despite the significant risks that often get glossed over or forgotten, a harmful fascination with authoritarian leaders continues to entice many. I must reiterate the importance of effective leadership and its steadfast commitment to democratic values. The world, and unfortunately, this nation, has witnessed, time and again, the allure of authoritarian leaders, individuals who promise safety and economic freedom but instead deliver oppression and strife. We must recognize that supporting such leaders is not only ill-advised but contrary to our fundamental principles.
Effective leaders understand the gravity of the role and serve as the bulwark against authoritarianism’s enraging tide. As sentinels, ever ready to oppose illiberal attacks thrust upon our foundations wherever they appear, whether in the workplace, local communities, or government policies, we must protect the sanctity of democratic principles.
- Authoritarians thrive on division and scapegoating, sowing seeds of discord among us. Effective leaders lead by example, embracing inclusivity, tolerance, and diversity, countering divisive tactics with unity.
- Better leadership thrives where engagement and activism flourish, where effective leaders take up the mantle of civic duty, participate in local politics, attend community meetings, and support grassroots initiatives that fortify our institutions because apathy and disengagement create fertile ground for lousy leadership to flourish.
- Authoritarian leaders often quash free speech and press freedom, relying on disinformation and propaganda to manipulate public opinion. Effective leaders are fearless in speaking their minds, support independent media outlets, advocate for transparency, and promote critical thinking and media literacy to help individuals discern fact from fiction.
- The rule of law, a cornerstone of democracy, is threatened by authoritarian leaders seeking to consolidate power. Effective leaders are champions of, among other things, an independent judiciary and the principles of due process, ensuring that justice remains fair and impartial.
- Accountability is paramount. Effective leaders demand transparency and stronger checks and balances in government, champion corporate responsibility, and promote ethical behavior within organizations.
Our proactive engagement in communities, our unwavering defense of rights and freedoms, and our commitment to fostering accountability and inclusivity make a significant difference in safeguarding our way of life, and the work must continue in organizations, homes, charities, and capitals throughout the nation.
The magnetic spell of authoritarian leadership will always entice a few who feel lost, ignored, or entitled. The leaders who want to ensure better leadership is the norm, not the exception, neutralize dictatorial tendencies by their daily behavior. They understand that freedom and democracy, even with their imperfections, remain crucial safeguards against tyranny.
There are practical actions all leaders can take at various levels of organizations, communities, and institutions to combat the appeal of authoritarian leaders:
- Maintain open and transparent communication.
- Nurture an environment of diversity and inclusion.
- Promote diverse voices in decision-making.
- Educate about democratic values and human rights.
- Lead by ethical example and expect it in others.
- Support independent journalism and fact-based reporting.
- Get involved in grassroots efforts.
- Speak out against leaders and policies that pose threats to democracy.
- Promote civic education and leadership training.
- Engage in local democracy by participating.
- Be prepared to defend democratic values when they are challenged.
- Collaborate with others from different backgrounds to promote democracy.
These actions contribute to a robust democracy and reduce the oxygenation of authoritarian leaders. Combating the appeal of authoritarian leaders is incumbent upon individuals, communities, and organizations who support the idea that safeguarding democracy is a collective responsibility, and every citizen must contribute to its preservation.
The fight against authoritarianism demands the active involvement of everyone who values democracy and its freedoms. By taking these actions, you contribute to building a resilient, democratic society that resists the appeal of autocratic leaders and protects the fundamental rights and values we hold dear. Even small efforts by ordinary leaders of all stripes make a substantial difference in preserving democratic values and human dignity, ensuring a better tomorrow for ourselves, our communities, and future generations.
About Karl Bimshas
Karl Bimshas is a Boston-bred, California-chilled Leadership Consultant and Writer. As the founder of Karl Bimshas Consulting, he provides customized leadership development resources and accountability partnering for busy professionals who want to manage better and lead well.