Persuasion, Legitimacy and Leadership

  • Jonathan Charteris-Black


Within all types of political system, from autocratic, through oligarchic to democratic, leaders have relied on the spoken word to convince others of the benefits that arise from their leadership. The more democratic societies become, the greater the onus on leaders to convince potential followers that they and their policies can be trusted. As Burns (1978: 18) explains: ‘Leadership over human beings is exercised when persons with certain motives and purposes mobilize, in competition or conflict with others, institutional, political, psychological, and other resources so as to arouse, engage, and satisfy the motives of followers.’ The argument that I will develop is that the most important type of behaviour by which leaders mobilise their followers is their linguistic performance. In democratic frameworks it is primarily through language that leaders legitimise their leadership.


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© Jonathan Charteris-Black 2005

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  • Jonathan Charteris-Black

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