This chapter proposes that leaders often derive their most inspirational qualities from events or actions that transpire before and after, rather than during, their tenure as leaders. These events or actions engender sympathy, emotional support, and adoration for the leader. We identify three types of individuals whose effectiveness as leaders stem from actions that elicit sympathetic responses from others: underdog leaders who attract sympathy from their ability to overcome significant obstacles before they assume their leadership; deceased leaders who attract sympathy and whose deaths elicit reverence and inspiration long after they are gone; and martyrs who make the ultimate sacrifice for noble causes and whose appeal is derived from combined elements of both underdog and deceased leaders. We propose that the self-sacrifice of all three types of leaders cements these leaders' positive legacy, and that these leaders' values both reflect and become a central part of their community's social identity.
Copyright © 2008 by Joanne B. Ciulla, Donelson R. Forsyth, Michael A. Genovese, George R. Goethals, Lori Cox Han, and Crystal Hoyt. All rights reserved. This book chapter first appeared in Leadership at the Crossroads: Leadership and Psychology. Reproduced with permission of ABC-CLIO, LLC, Santa Barbara, CA
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Allison, Scott T., and George R. Goethals. "Deifying the Dead and Downtrodden: Sympathetic Figures as Inspirational Leaders." In Leadership at the Crossroads: Leadership and Psychology, edited by Joanne B. Ciulla, Donelson R. Forsyth, Michael A. Genovese, George R. Goethals, Lori Cox Han, and Crystal L. Hoyt, 181-95. Vol. 1. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2008.