Max Weber’s considerations on what makes a “good politician” raise several questions about the difference between the politician and the leader. Sadly, I fear that the way our society categorizes those whom we put in power is dangerously lacking in the essence of leadership. Should we actually consider personal political vocation as a logical reason for civil-servants to entertain politics, or rather that they are there as an extension of our voice in government? If we as a society continue in our depersonalization of the individuals we elect to office we are inherently removing their status as a leader of the people and creating a self-servant, who according to Weber, requires only, “passionate devotion to a ’cause'”, in order to be sufficient to their constituents. In my Organizational Studies 201 course, which highlights the many facets of leadership, I’ve begun to craft a new idea of what political leaders should embody, which will hopefully help us relocate the Leadership in Politics.
I believe that politicians must be more than just a proponent of a particular cause to be worthy of the people’s representation. Devotion to a cause seems too personal of a goal, one that defines the politician as an individual, but does not define the group of people he or she represents. It is for this reason that I think Weber’s stipulation for being a good politician should be edited to “passionate devotion to he or she’s constituent’s cause”. This edit restores one of the mandatory requirements for being a good politician to leadership status and not merely just another vocation.
Another example of a revised stipulation by which politicians should abide in order to be considered leaders of the people and not self-servants regards responsibility. Specifically, leaders in politics should hold a “feeling of Responsibility to their constituents” and not just a “feeling of responsibility”. The latter requirement is not specific enough in that a politician’s responsibilities could be entirely self-serving or frivolous. However, if a politician feels responsible to represent their people’s best interests, or even their goals, he or she becomes a leader for the people in the fullest sense of the word.
In any case I wish to voice my discontent with the term “Politics as a Vocation”. Firstly, this term devalues jobs in politics by labeling them as inconsequential to the betterment of others while reserving them for the betterment of the politician. The term “vocation”, in this sense, seems to feign a worthy”calling” while embracing personal goals and self-fulfillment instead. Organizational Studies 201 has taught me that the best leaders are those who lead because other’s need them too and not because a position of power is an alluring goal.
This is not an attempt to discredit all politicians as greedy and self-serving, but rather a sincere petition to clarify the standards by which society judges the ones who represent them in government. That is to put the Leadership back in Politics.