Extensive institutional and policy change is necessary for the values of co-operation and constructive dialogue in international relations to be restored in the current context of the declining world order. But that alone is not sufficient. We also need behavioural changes in the world's top leaders. Hypermasculine and hubristic performance in strongman leader behaviour have consequences for stable world order. While there is robust research on corporate leadership, similar research focusing on the personal socio-psychological agency of strongman leaders in international relations is in its infancy. This paper uses the psychoanalytic frameworks: of narcissism and hubris syndrome to focus on the styles and practices of strongman leadership in international relations. The cognitive behavioural practices of this kind of leadership on co-operation and dialogue reflect a set of gender-performative, hypermasculine practices. While this is not an exercise in feminist scholarship, it is our analytical and not very subtle normative and prescriptive conclusion that any reform of international co-operation will be greatly limited without a greater gendered understanding and practice of power, if we are to combat the all too easily condoned rebarbative behaviour of strongman leaders in international relations.
- Increasingly nowadays most bureaucratic institutional venues have codes of ethics and rules for members to hold abusive conduct at bay. However, the international bad behaviour of strongman leaders continues to go unchecked. Policy and attitudes must be developed to increasingly render unacceptable, the more rebarbative elements of strongman leader behaviour.
- Securing leadership positions is different to leading. First-stage hiring protocols need to be developed to counter the preferences often given to hypermasculine behaviour as a pre-requisite for appointment to leadership positions.
- Students of the theory and practice of international relations must engage more with the analytical tools available for the analysis of leadership found in the behavioural and management sciences.
- Only people talk. We must recognise the limits of anthropomorphic behaviour in our endeavours to build a global co-operative dialogue.
- To place multilateralism in the realm of renewed possibility in global affairs, international relations scholars and practitioners alike must address the structural effects of gender bias and the negative agency effects sustained by strongman leadership.
- Countermeasures need to be developed to stem, indeed reverse, the growing backlash from strongmen leaders in authoritarian and illiberal states towards the hard-won rights and roles of women and other groups in the leadership process.
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