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On the rhetorical strategies of leaders: Speaking clearly, standing back, and stepping down


  • Torun Dewan

    (London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK)

  • David P Myatt

    (London Business School, London, UK)


Followers wish to coordinate their actions in an uncertain environment. A follower would like his action to be close to some ideal (but unknown) target; to reflect his own idiosyncratic preferences; and to be close to the actions of others. He learns about his world by listening to leaders. Followers fail to internalize the full benefits of coordination and so place insufficient emphasis on the focal views of relatively clear leaders. A leader sometimes stands back, by restricting what she says, and so creates space for others to be heard; in particular, a benevolent leader with outstanding judgement gives way to a clearer communicator in an attempt to encourage unity amongst her followers. Sometimes a leader receives no attention from followers, and sometimes she steps down (says nothing); hence a leadership elite emerges from the endogenous choices of leaders and followers.

Suggested Citation

  • Torun Dewan & David P Myatt, 2012. "On the rhetorical strategies of leaders: Speaking clearly, standing back, and stepping down," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 24(4), pages 431-460, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:jothpo:v:24:y:2012:i:4:p:431-460

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    communication; leadership; rhetoric;


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