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Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby is an anthropologist and psychoanalyst globally recognized as an expert on leadership. He is the author of The Leaders We Need, And What Makes Us Follow.

The right leaders

Although I am not persuaded by President Obama's strategy of sending more troops to Afghanistan, I respect his carefully considered judgment and, of course, hope that the strategy succeeds in strengthening the anti-Taliban forces. Clearly, the better we are able to develop Afghan leadership that supports our strategy, the more likely we'll be able to exit the country according to Obama's time table.

However, I do not think it is a matter of teaching leadership to Afghanis. We can teach needed management skills, but we need to find leaders with followers. We should avoid putting people in leadership positions who tell us what we want to hear but have no followers. Doing this got us into trouble in Iraq. But Afghani leaders who oppose the Taliban or who are able to neutralize them will likely be tribal leaders who favor followers in their identity groups.

We need to be able to differentiate the honest leaders from the corrupt who use their power to exploit people not part of the tribal group. This will not be easy. It can be accomplished if these leaders recognize they will gain broader support only by using their authority to establish and sustain a just community.

By Michael Maccoby

 |  December 2, 2009; 2:15 PM ET
Category:  Wartime Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: A familiar job | Next: Afghanistan's West Point

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