I’m currently reading the Dictator’s Handbook. It’s a cynical but valid perspective on how politicians establish and maintain rule. This is also going to be a cynical post.

One immediate takeaway is I’m glad that I don’t live in a dictatorship or autocracy. Another is how businesses are a lot more like dictatorships than democracies. While business leaders still need to rely on others (e.g. shareholders, board members) to maintain control, their influence is largely unchecked. They can make decisions and spur action far easier than any legislature can even think.

Looking at a business as a dictatorship, it is interesting to think about various elements that we take for granted. In a democracy, I can speak freely about anything. In the dictatorship company, not so much. The same goes for how leaders acquire their positions. In a democracy, we vote them into power. The dictatorship company claims that leaders earned their place through their merit.

To be fair, this is usually true - but there are no serious checks to prevent something else from happening. People could bring others into power for any reason, and the human resources department is too limited to have influence beyond what’s in the law.

Each company is like its own country with a completely different culture. Once someone ascends to power in one place, how they did it matter less to others. The big picture is a good story and the finer details can fall by the wayside.

I wrote this piece because sometimes I am underwhelmed by people in senior leadership roles. They might have a book or a large Twitter following, only for me to realize it’s all a facade. It’s disappointing.

When I think about these people, it’s interesting to think about how they’ve gotten to their positions - and what they’ll do to maintain them. My only hope is that I never become or hire one of these people.