Public Leader Overview

Public Leader Overview






Public Leader Overview

Public leadership has been in existence since the beginning of ancient civilizations. The methods applied in public leadership have since evolved, seeing to the emergence of various leadership theories and styles put forward by various schools of thought. Renowned public leaders, both male and female have implemented their leadership in methods described by the various leadership theories. For instance, the current chancellor for Germany Angela Merkel in her position in public leadership is an embodiment of the transformational leadership theory. Mahatma Gandhi, a leader of the movement for independence in the British-ruled India, is a well-known public leader who is an embodiment of the servant leadership theory. The implementation of public leadership by these leaders using the theories of leadership that they use, uphold the definition of public leadership as described below.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is one of the renowned and the greatest leaders in the European Union, which is among the greatest world economies. Chancellor Merkel’s leadership is, in my opinion, an embodiment of transformational leadership theory, which describes a public leader who has a vision to bring change, and utilizes their skills to set goals and objectives in order to bring about positive change in the society. She has balanced her leadership action that brings about progress, with the needs of the citizens in her country. This led to her reelection to office in 2009. During her tenure of leadership, Chancellor Merkel has brought change, and great improvements that her predecessor was seen not to achieve. These changes include the growth in the German economy, a drop in the rates of unemployment and improved trade relations with China and other countries. She transformed the political climate of Germany by uniting the Christian Democratic Union party, which was beginning to fall apart, and the reunion of Eastern and Western Germany. Her immense contribution in the Eurozone crisis cannot be understated.

Mahatma Gandhi, who is an embodiment of servant Leadership, spearheaded the fight for independence in India, a British colony. Gandhi, an educated lawyer realized the suffering of the Indians in South Africa where he worked and went back to his homeland to lead the masses towards independence. Despite being educated and more superior to the masses, Gandhi brought himself down to their level, encouraging civil disobedience and going to jail several times in the struggle. He was committed to voluntary poverty and considered service to people a pleasure and a privilege. He engaged in various humanitarian efforts such as helping the sick, in an attempt to improve the quality of life of other people. He was humble in the political field as he allowed the young political leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru to rise up the ranks, despite his power to remain at the top.

Public Leader Comparison and Contrast

Both chancellor Merkel and Mahatma Gandhi have implemented their leadership in accordance with the leadership theories they embody to achieve their goals and objectives as follows. Mahatma through his servant leadership influenced the masses to use non-violent means to fight for their rights. The Salt March of 1931 is a good example whereby Gandhi organized a peaceful march across the cities in India to mobilize the citizens to stand up against the taxes levied on salt. Gandhi’s choice of attire similar to that of the masses was a symbol of humility, for which servant leadership advocates. He also embraced humanitarian service to the sick, especially during his stay in South Africa. In the Amritsar massacre of 1919, Gandhi resorts to non-violent methods (hunger strike) in order to come up with an amicable solution to the massacre. Gandhi played part in mediating between the two communities.

Gandhi, being a male, the figure which most societies believe should be in leadership, was able to implement his leadership goals and objectives. The masses, because of his humility and willingness to come to their level, respected and supported Gandhi. He received minimal opposition and criticism from both his peers in the political field, and from the masses. This contributed greatly to the success of his leadership in leading then in civil disobedience and other activities that brought India’s independence.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor is an example of a transformational leader. She has brought change in the German economy, European Union and the Global economy, through her application of transformational leadership skills. German economy has witnessed growth from a being a debt pool to being the strongest economy in the European Union since Merkel’s assumption of the Chancellery office. Merkel’s transformational leadership is also evident from her intervention in steering fruitful trade relations between Germany and China, and other robust economies. Merkel has achieved a substantive economy that employs a balanced workforce and considers gender equity. Women seeking any top positions with the required qualifications, skills and experience get the jobs without any apparent discrimination as opposed to the past.

Given her gender, Angela Merkel has received criticism from Germans and the world at large. These individuals think that if the German Chancellery would be a position taken by a male, they would make decisions that are more acceptable and policies. Because of this, Chancellor Merkel is at the forefront in fighting for gender equity and empowerment. Other leaders of the European Union and most German citizens have criticized her stand on immigration and on nuclear weapons. It is apparent that Chancellor Merkel’s leadership has aroused opposition and criticism from various avenues. Her use of the transformational theory of leadership has led to emergence of change in Germany, which not everyone is ready to embrace. Many have questioned her ability to make decisions because of her inability to take a stand on issues especially on immigration. In contrast to Merkel’s style of leadership, Gandhi’s leadership focused on listening to the people and sharing ideas, as described by servant Leadership. He made decisions based on the opinion of the citizens.

Public Leader Evaluation and Analysis

Through her style of leadership that is mostly democratic, Merkel has effectively implemented her leadership. One of the strengths that comes out of her style of leadership is that she is not afraid of being a lone voice. Merkel emerges as a fighter for what is good for Germany and European Union. Being the only woman in her position within the European Union, she is fearless and has a solid stand in advocating for better policies and a better economy. The positive change especially seen from the outcome of the Eurozone crisis, the issue on nuclear weapons and the immigration issue indicates some of the successes of Merkel’s leadership.

Another strength of Merkel’s leadership style is that she is a master who leads from behind. Every democratic mind calls for giving a platform other well-minded individuals within the society and accommodating their thoughts and expressions in nation’s agenda. Merkel portrays this strength by offering the society what is best for them. Giving others a platform to express what is good for them is important and is a proof of democracy. This saw to her re-election in 2009, showing that the opposition and criticism she received before was from a minority of the population.

Merkel’s leadership style appears to have been effective as seen from the successes she has achieved. She was able to achieve economic growth, drop in unemployment rates and improved trade relation with other countries including China. She also reunited the Christian Democratic Union and to narrow the rift between Eastern and Western Germany. More so, her values have played a critical role in rescuing Germany’s reputation from the past. Rescuing Germany from being a debt pool to among the strongest economies in Europe is one of Merkel’s successes. Merkel’s political prudence and enviable values in the dynamics of Germany’s politics have given her the upper hand in raising better hopes for the nation. She has brought notable success in the fight against gender inequality, has contributed to solution of the Eurozone crisis.

Chancellor Merkel also has a few weaknesses in her leadership style. Despite embracing a democratic style of leadership, she fails to take a stand in very important issues affecting Germany. Another weakness displayed by Merkel is the unwillingness to take risks. This has brought about criticism from her citizens and the rest of the world. Merkel also seems to focus on bringing change so much that she forgets to listen to the needs and the concerns of Germans. This is also a weakness in her style of leadership.

Mahatma Gandhi used and applied the principle of consultative style of leadership. One of the strengths associated with this style is that Gandhi valued diverse minds. He accommodated diverse opinions from diverse minds. This is evident from the salt march of 1931 where he stopped on every village that he crossed in order to listen to the opinions from others. Another strength of Gandhi’s leadership style is that he cultivated a culture of trust. Gandhi brought to table issues for discussion with other leaders and the masses before decision-making and implementation. This made his leadership transparent and popular. Another strength of Gandhi’s leadership style is that he acted with humility. He brought himself down to the level of the masses through his humanitarian actions, his dressing, and his social interaction and in serving the masses. This influenced greatly the success of his mission in leading the people of India to independence.

Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership appears to have been effective as evidenced by the successes he achieved. These strengths in his leadership style enabled him succeed in uniting the masses and in leading the movement for independence in India. He also united Hindus and Muslims who fought in the massacre in 1919 by mediating between then. His leadership style also helped him to unite Indians in the protest against taxes levied on salt by the British. It also enabled him to get support and popularity among the masses. Gandhi’s success is most evident since India is now independent, and the war between Hindus and Muslims is just a cold war.

Gandhi also displayed a few weaknesses in his leadership style. The willingness to compromise is one of these, Gandhi accepted to recruit soldiers for the British from among his fellow Indians in an attempt to gain independence. Another weakness is the vacillation that Gandhi demonstrated in the involvement of India in the World War. He failed the masses when he failed to make the decision on whether India should take part in the war. Another weakness of Gandhi’s style of leadership by autocratic means, which he practiced occasionally in his leadership. This was evident when he called off mass agitation in the fight for independence in 1931.

Public leader influence

One of the key strengths that would influence my ability to be a public leader is the willingness to serve. This strength enables a public leader to pursue their goals and objectives with enthusiasm. It enables a public leader to come up with a vision, lay down strategies and steer the team through working together, to achieve the set goals and objectives. Willingness to serve makes a public leader to be self-driven, approachable by their followers and more open to correction and criticism. All these are key in ensuring that their leadership is effective and performance in public sector leadership is good.


It is evident that renowned leaders have successfully employed various theories and styles of leadership to deliver successful public leadership to their organization. It is also clear that the gender of an individual plays a role in determining the effectiveness of their leadership, especially in a society that believes in leadership by a particular gender. The strengths and weaknesses of a leadership style determine how effective the leadership style is in governance of the public sector. A good leadership style is one that has more strengths than weaknesses.


Barnabas, A., & Clifford, S. P. (2012). Mahatma Gandhi- An Indian Model of Servant Leadership. International Journal of Leadership Studies, 7(2).

Dolan, P. (2011). An Anatomy of Leadership Angela Merkel’s Leadership & the Future of Germany’s Economy as it Exits Atomic Energy. The International Chronicles – Journal of Contemporary Political Culture.

Rowtz, L. (2014). Public Health Leadership Putting Principles into Practice. Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Spears, L. C. (2010). Character and Servant Leadership: Ten Characeristics of Effective, Caring Leaders. The Journal of Virtues & Leadership, 1(1), 25-30.