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The past, present and future of leadership analysis: Xi, Kim and Putin


February 2, 2021 

By Kenneth B. Dekleva, Senior Fellow
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the George H. W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations.

Executive Summary:

The origins of leadership analysis and political psychology profiling date to World War II and the Cold War, when Drs. Walter Langer and Jerrold Post published classified leadership profiles of various world leaders for senior U.S. policymakers. Such portraits provided a psychological understanding of a given leader’s traits and political behavior and emphasized how such understanding might prove useful in diplomatic negotiations, stressing the close relationship between charismatic, narcissistic leaders and their impassioned followers. More than ever, national security professionals and policymakers must understand the intentions of adversaries, especially during military confrontations, hybrid warfare, diplomatic negotiations, political/economic conflicts and national security crises. Leadership analysis can thereby be expected remain a viable and strategically useful tool of 21st-century intelligence analysis.

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About the Author:
Kenneth Dekleva holds the McKenzie Foundation Chair in Psychiatry I at The University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, where he is an associate professor of Psychiatry and director of Psychiatry-Medicine Integration. From 2002 to 2016, he served as a senior U.S. diplomat and regional medical officer/psychiatrist with the United States Department of State, providing mental health support to 60,000 U.S. diplomats and family members based overseas and in the United States. He has published widely in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the LawThe HillThe Cipher Brief, 38 Northand The Diplomat and given numerous presentations in academic and U.S. government settings in the field of leadership analysis, including profiles of Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un.