How unequal authority and power can be justified is a central question of political theory and of leadership studies (Price & Hicks, 2006). Indeed, while in everyday language leadership is commonly viewed as a positive term and the word leader connotes respect, in some political vernaculars, the very idea of leadership is suspect, if not embarrassing. For instance, one of the most influential public intellectuals of the late 20th century, Noam Chomsky, consistently refers to leadership in disparaging way. In Chomsky's (2005) view, leadership is a code word intended to justify class rule, vastly unequal political and economic power, and imperialism abroad -- all in the name of wisdom, prudence, and justice.

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