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Michael Maccoby
Scholar

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.

Newmark defending dangerous precedent

Q: In defending Craigslist against charges that it facilitates prostitution and casual sex and undermines the news business, founder Craig Newmark relies on an unwavering commitment to free expression, free markets and an open Internet. Is such an unwavering commitment to core principles the essence of leadership, or is leadership more about accommodating core principles to other social needs and values?

Leadership is about gaining followers. People follow leaders either because they have to or because they want to. To gain willing followers, leaders have to inspire them by connecting to their values.

However, leaders may either appeal to moral values or to crass self interest. Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln appealed to the values of liberty and justice. Hitler appealed to values of power and revenge. Some of the best business leaders appeal to values of improving the quality of life of employees and customers.

Free expression and a free market are values that strengthen a prosperous and democratic society. But appealing to values of free expression and a free market can also justify amoral or immoral actions. That is why there are laws and regulations that limit freedom when its expression damages people or limits the freedom of others. To proclaim unbridled freedom as a principle is usually a way of justifying greed or a drive for power.

By Michael Maccoby

 |  September 8, 2010; 11:55 AM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals , Ethics , Government leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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