Should Leaders Be
Selfish or Altruistic?
Letters on Leader Motivation
Bruce J. Avolio and Edwin E. Locke
I would like to convey to you some of my thoughts on the issue of whether leaders should be self-sacrificial (altruistic) or egoistic (selfish). I will defend the view that leaders (and everyone else) should be selfish. However, before I can discuss this issue intelligently, I need to define my terms.
Let me begin with the term self-sacrifice or altruism. (Technically, these concepts are not identical. The concept of self-sacrifice itself does not specify whom the beneficiary of the sacrifice should be [e.g., God, animals, trees]. Altruism says the beneficiary should be other people or society. This is what people typically mean when they advocate self-sacrifice.) Many people are confused about the meaning of sacrifice. Some, for example, claim that there is no such thing as self-sacrifice because all people do what they really [want] to do: that is, they choose the path