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Dominant leaders: how they are and how they are made with the power

Dominant leaders: how they are and how they are made with the power

October 1, 2022

Donald Trump was named president of the United States of America on January 20, 2017. This fact came as a great surprise to many who expected his ideology, his controversial and worrisome statements and policies and the aggressiveness he displayed during the The electoral campaign, together with its origin as a business tycoon (without political experience), represented a clear victory for the other candidate for the presidency, Hillary Clinton. However, despite everything Trump was the one who won. One of the reasons for this was his personality, highly dominant.

It is not the only case: multiple dominant leaders have made their way to power throughout history, sometimes being chosen by the population. Why? In this article we are going to talk about the characteristics of the dominant people and the reason why they are sometimes chosen.


  • Related article: "Types of Leadership: The 5 most common leader classes"

Characteristics of the dominant leaders

Dominance is not a negative attribute in itself . The ability to master has a utility: it serves the subject to achieve their purposes, focus on them and even take advantage of the resources available to achieve them. To a greater or lesser extent, we all have some degree of it and we situate ourselves at some point in a continuum between dominance and submission.

Someone dominant will tend to have great self-confidence, be stubborn and have a preference for control. They tend not to be content with what is offered, they tend to have little appreciation of the conventions and to be independent and focused on themselves and their needs.


In cases where dominance is extremely high, people with a higher level of dominance tend to manifest higher levels of arrogance and a sense of superiority . They also tend to be utilitarian, more irascible and apparently manifest a greater capacity for decision by not taking into account that other perspectives of reality besides their own may be as much or more correct than the one they defend.

They tend to have a more dichotomous thought and seek fame, prestige and power in greater quantity. In fact, it is common to present the so-called dark triad or dark triad: narcissism, Machiavellianism / manipulation and psychopathy.

Narcissism and psychopathy

As far as narcissism is concerned, it's usually about people with great need for attention, who demand the recognition of their merits and that tend to show a behavior in which they tend to self-evaluate in an exaggeratedly positive way. They consider themselves first, valuing others later.


Psychopathy manifests as a high lack of empathy, acting on the basis of achieving one's own goals without taking into account the effects that their behavior may have for other people and showing little depth in their emotional reactions. In addition they tend to manifest a charm of high seduction capacity, something that facilitates a positive predisposition towards them when they are treated superficially.

By last, Machiavellianism refers to the ability to manipulate : make others think, create or do what the person wants to take advantage of it to achieve their own goals.

They tend to seek to stand out and often marginalize or harm those subjects who have greater skills than them, establishing a strict surveillance of what is done. Generally the dominant leaders are more requested when it comes to dealing with specific tasks that are very marked or at times when a fast and safe response is required.

  • Maybe you're interested: "Narcissistic people: these are the 9 traits that define them"

Why are they chosen?

Bearing in mind that an excess of dominance often borders on totalitarianism and the search for the submission of the rest to the opinion of the dominant person or entity, it is worth asking why many people come to approach and choose dominant leaders at one point.

There have been numerous experiments in this regard to try to find a clear cause for this trend, and the most plausible response is something that we have actually been able to see again and again throughout history and that we can observe if we analyze how different dominant leaders They have come to power (through elections, not dictatorially): intolerance of uncertainty.

And is that many leaders of dominant characteristics have emerged in periods of great uncertainty and suffering. In these situations, there is a great sense of insecurity in a large part of the population, and in the face of such insecurity many seek a firm point from which to act. You look for someone in whom you can identify strength and a clear vision of things , someone with a high level of security in himself and his vision of things. These are characteristics that someone dominant, although their opinions may not be shared, possesses or gives the appearance of owning.

Thus, what generates dominant leaders reach positions of power is usually the perception of lack of power and control over situations by the subject who chooses, seeking to improve the situation of insecurity and discomfort associated with it through compensation .

Why not another type of leaders?

In the situations mentioned above, it has been observed not only that the preference for dominant leaders increases, but also that directed towards less authoritarian and more prestige-based leaders.

The reason for this is that a leader who reaches power based on prestige usually manifests a higher level of consciousness, empathy and humility (although he can also express pride), being more agreeable to the majority and more considerate with different points of view. But In crisis situations, some people see these qualities as a difficulty in making difficult decisions and a slow and leisurely way of acting.

Many people in a crisis situation see these qualities, generally considered as positive, as a sign of weakness: altruism and flexibility are seen as a threat to integrity and a generator of insecurity, which does not provide sufficient protection for the group of belonging.

Evolution over time

However, this leadership style is only sustainable at the moment when a fast action is required in a stressful situation. That is, it is a type of power that has effectiveness in the short term or as long as the problem or situation remains and has not been resolved previously by other means. In the medium or long term, however, ceases to be valued positively and tends to disappear in pursuit of other types of leadership more flexible and considered with all elements of society.

However, once in power the dominant person tends to secure his position by carrying out different processes and mechanisms. It is one of the reasons why many dominant leaders who initially came to power through elections end up becoming dictators. Even it is likely that the dominant leader may cause a greater imbalance than the one that led to his rise , which on the other hand can make its dominance something more attractive that facilitates its permanence.

Bibliographic references

  • Asquith, D., Lyons, M., Watson, H., & Jonason, P. (2014). Birds of feather flock together - Evidence for assortative mating for the Dark Triad traits Personality and Individual Differences
  • Maner, J. K. (2017). Dominance and prestige: A tale of two hierarchies. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 26 (6), 526-531.

How To Be Dominant: 7 Power Moves From The Godfather (Movie Analysis) (October 2022).


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