Douglas MacArthur

by David M. Boje January 16, 2001

http://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/teaching/338/macarthur_douglas.htm

 

Y- WILL TO POWER

X

T

R

A

N

S

A

C

T

I

O

N

A

L

2. PRINCE LEADER  

 

Prince who gains power but does not know how to handle it; Superman who becomes prince; Superwoman who resists Prince

4. SUPERMAN/ SUPERWOMAN LEADER  

 

T

R

A

N

S

F

O

M

A

T

I

O

N

A

L

 

Bureaucrat pretending to be the prince; Prince who has become engulfed by bureaucratic counter measures

EXECUTIVE LEADER W/ 4 CHOICES?

Heroic leader who leaves the group to find self; Superman who becomes puppet of group

1. BUREAUCRATIC TRANSACTION LEADER  

Bureaucrat pretending to be heroic; Hero who is tamed by bureaucracy  

3. HEROIC/ CHARISMATIC LEADER  

 

WILL TO SERVE OTHERS

Figure One: Four Types of  MacArthur-Leader Modalities

Introduction

   Douglas MacArthur is a leader who moved uneasily as a tragic and sometimes heroic, occasionally bureaucratic, and even superman character, between the four modalities of leadership defined in Figure One.  X is the attitude dimension of leadership running from the transactional to transformational, and Y is the attitude ranging from Will to Serve to Will to Power.  Cross X with Y and you get four ideal leadership categories, each of which fit Douglas MacArthur. 

 

 William Manchester (1978: 15) describes Douglas MacArthur as a highly complex leader:

He was a great thundering paradox of a man, noble and ignoble, inspring and outrageous, arrogant and shy, the best of men and the worst of men, the most protean, most ridiculous, and most sublime. No more falling, exasperating soldier ever wore a uniform. Flamboyant, imperious, and apocalyptic, he carried the plumage of a flamingo, could not acknowledge errors, and tried to cover up his mistakes with sly, childish tricks. Yet he was also endowed with great personal charm, a will of iron, and a soaring intellect. Unquestionably he was the most gifted man-at-arms this nation has produced. He was also extraordinarily brave. His twenty-two medals-thirteen of them for heroism-probably exceeded those of any other figure in American history. He seemed to seek death on battlefields. Repeatedly he deliberately exposed himself to enemy snipers, first as a lieutenant in the Philippines shortly after the turn of the century, then as a captain in Mexico, and finally as a general in three great wars. At the age of seventy he ordered his pilot to fly him in an unarmed plane through Chinese flak over the length of the bleak Yalu,. Nevertheless, his troops scorned him as "Dugout Doug." 

For every MacArthur strength on the three dimensions in Figure One, there is a corresponding MacArthur weakness. Next I will analyze the Manchester (1978) text and categorize the four leaderly modalities (page numbers refer to the 1978 text). In looking at each modality I am interested in the inner conscious identity of being MacArthur that informs his outer mask for each modality. My thesis is that MacArthur is conflicted within each modality, such as the charismatic hero who relishes idolatry. And this thesis extends to MacArthur's migration from one modality to another, such as between the transformational hero of Japan to the Superman who reigned as its benevolent autocrat.  In short, MacArthur is a complex leader who migrates throughout the modalities of Figure One.

MacArthur the Bureaucrat

    Was this Prince of a leader, ever a bureaucrat?  

MacArthur was the bureaucrat trying not to get swamped by detail, yet delving into them to get a sense of a strategic move to take. He could delegate and spoke with the singular voice of authority at the same time. 

MacArthur the Prince

    In terms of will to power:

 

MacArthur the Hero

    In terms of MacArthur as Hero:    

As each era escapes, the world does not know what to do with a hero. Says Carlyle (as cited in Manchester, 1978: 20), "Alas, the hero of old has had to cramp himself into strange places: the world knows not well at any time what to do with him, so foreign is his aspect in the world!" MacArthur was the hero of old, foreign to a world that increasingly wanted to cage its heroes. MacArthur's heroes were Lincoln and Washington. MacArthur was a hero like Washington who was respected but not loved. 

MacArthur the Superman

    What about MacArthur was the Nietzschean Superman with the Will to Power?

 MacArthur quoted Dionysus to his WW I Rainbow Division in a speech in 1935. 

It is a law of nature, common to all mankind, which time shall neither annul nor destroy, that those who have greater strength and power shall bear rule over those who have less (cited in Manchester, 1978: 23).

Dionysus also a favorite of Nietzsche.

The MacArthur Theatrics of Leadership

    Most of all MacArthur was a thespian, a showman who never tired of peacockery and spectacle. In his thespianism, MacArthur, MacArthur, says Manchester (1978:22) "relished the spotlight" and the "enjoyed applause more... He was vain."  Here we see some of the existential leadership qualities of MacArthur. He was always convincing "himself that his drives were in fact selfless" (p. 22). In our terms, he masked his will to power with the heroic will to serve

He was the "youngest Chief of Staff in the army's history" (p. 155). He was an enigmatic contradiction, the valorous hero and the guileful prince, the bureaucrat and the superman. On his deathbed MacArthur "begged Lyndon Johnson to stay out of Vietnam" (p. 24). 

 

References

Boje, David M. (2000a) Existential Leadership 

Boje, David M. (2000b) Theatrics of Leadership Model

Manchester, William (1978 American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964.  NY: Dell Publishing Company, Inc.