With all the talk of presidential candidacy in the air, it seems like a good time to revisit an enduring question: What kind of leader do people want? Moreover, what kind of leader should I be if I want to rise to the top? Research suggests two different and somewhat contradictory answers.
According to one theory, people want a leader who is “one of us.” In other words, they want someone representative of the group or organization to which they belong. Representative leaders draw their power from successfully conveying the sense that they will protect the group’s core values. (This turns out to be particularly desirable in “us vs. them” situations, when one group is competing against or is threatened by another.) They inspire liking, loyalty, and a sense of connectedness. These are the leaders you “want to drink a beer with.”