Leadership styles have always differed all through history. Leaders use their positions to help others and themselves. They are also responsible for making decisions as well as projecting their visions based on the judgment that will benefit the subordinates. There are many leadership styles, ranging from transformational leadership to democratic leadership to authoritative leadership, and they all have characteristics that distinguish them from the other. This paper’s primary focus is Dark (unethical) and Light (ethical) leaders and their leadership styles.
Dark (Unethical) Leader
Idi Amin (1924-2003) was a Ugandan president who was known for his brutal and ruthless ways. He staged a successful military coup in 1971, thus began his ascent to power. He expelled all Asians from his country and caused the breakdown of Uganda’s economy (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2019). During his reign, Idi Amin was responsible for the killings of over 500,000 civilians. His atrocious acts earned him the title of ‘the butcher of Uganda’ as mass killings were witnessed as well as violations of human rights.
Idi Amin used a brutal military dictatorship style to rule over Uganda. This type of leadership can also be referred to as Authoritarian leadership. Whatever the leader says is final and never open for debate, Amin’s rule was filled with violence to control the citizens. He was an unpredictable ruler who was led by his paranoia. He used his position of power to intimidate anyone who proved to be a hindrance. He was an unforgiving leader and would always find ways to get back at his enemies (Al Jazeera, 2008).
Authoritarian Leadership style also referred to as Autocratic leadership, is made up of a leader exerting total control over all decisions and not allowing the subordinate’s opinions. The leaders often decide according to how they feel, their beliefs, and their ideas. Leaders using this type of style are often dictators and runs a rigid environment where once a rule is broken or an objection is made, the guilty party is jailed or executed depending on what the leader desires. Though it does not encourage creativity, it allows for a quick decision-making process and a transparent chain of command.
When it came to ruling over Uganda, Idi Amin had a military background that motivated him to be ruthless. He established the State Research Bureau (SRB) and the Public Safety Unit (PSU), whose main task was to get rid of anyone who opposed his regime (HISTORY.COM EDITORS, 2009). In 1976, Amin welcomed Palestinian terrorists who had hijacked Air France Flight from Israel, who was later rescued by the Israeli commandos. This prompted Amin to order the execution of the airport personnel as the act of Israeli commandos had put his name to shame.
Ethical (Light) leader
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) is one of the most talked-about leaders in history. He was a civil-rights activist and a Baptist minister who led the civil rights movement in the United States. King became one of the leaders who led the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, which lasted for 381 days. His famous, ‘I Have a Dream Speech’ delivered at a rally in Washington D.C in 1963 not only marked him as a master orator, but it also put pressure on the administration to push for civil rights law to pass through congress (‘How Did Martin Luther King’s Vision Change the World?’, n.d.). He also fought for the voting rights of the Black people and lobbied for nonviolent protests. He led the political march from Selma, Alabama, to the state’s capital on March 21-25, 1965 (Wallenfeldt, 2020).
King was a Transformational leader whose main objective was to ensure African-Americans had equal rights as the whites in their own country. He challenged the existence of segregation and injustice in the nation and fought for democracy and racial justice. He empathized with victims of police brutality and encouraged his followers to always have hope amid everything that occurred. He discouraged his followers from using violence while protesting, as this was an inhumane act. He was also a courageous leader who never shied away from risks about the protests they held.
Transformational leadership is a leadership style that governs change. Leaders using this style often encourage, motivate, and inspire subordinates to create and embrace change that will affect their future. Transformational leaders are expected to have authentic, strong leadership skills that will inspire subordinates. They lead by example and set moral standards to be emulated by their juniors. The leaders are also expected to be able to connect with their followers and serve as role models.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was always at the forefront during the protests. He had a dream and took the initiative to set it in motion. As a minister, it was easy for him to motivate people to join him in the fight against segregation of the Black people. His main objective was to transform the oppressive and racial administration and ensure that Black people felt safe in their own country. The fact that King placed the people’s safety and needs before his own proved him to be an ethical leader. His religious background also plays a part in this. He believed in nonviolence and encouraged peaceful protests as he thought that violence was an unjust action.
King’s resilience and determination made him highly respected. People found it easier to relate to him as he exhibited selflessness. His commanding presence brought together people from all over the state, and his desire to change motivated people to join him. Martin Luther King, Jr. did not tolerate violence as he believed evil could not be overcome by evil. He was all for peace, and this is one of the many characteristics that set him apart. During the Selma March, he appealed to Americans of conscience to join him, and thousands of people responded to the call.