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Joseph Stalin LeadershipJoseph Stalin Leadership


Joseph Stalin (1879-1953)


Russian communist dictator (pictured right), more powerful and killed more people than anybody in history including Hitler.

Ruled by fear and sacrificed his people’s freedom and prosperity to boost the military and nuclear power of Russia (then called the Soviet Union) and support its empire in Eastern Europe.

His hatred of America and the West led to the Cold War.


Why was he so powerful?


1. Fear, revenge and cruelty

He was a bully, extremely rude and intimidating with an evil, piercing gaze.

He inherited from his violent father extreme cruelty to everybody including his family.

Ten million peasants died either from execution or starvation, when he combined Russia’s 25 million peasant farms into much bigger government owned ones.

His industrialization policy was successful, but managers were shot for any failures.

In the 1930’s tens of millions of his political opponents were murdered or sent to labour (or concentration) camps in his “great purges”

He continued his killings during and after the Second World War (including the murder of Leon Trotsky, his great rival, in 1940).

The people became terrified, suspicious of each other and forced to accept that any opposition to Stalin was hopeless.


2. Leadership skills


  • led his army in its successful defeat of Nazi Germany, having enormously improved the army and navy during the 1930’s. Joseph Stalin Leadership
  • learned to delegate to his military chiefs (after at first interfering too much in military operations)
  • achieved his aim of a Russian empire in Eastern Europe.
  • was calm in a crisis with a great eye for detail.


3. Dedication and exploitation



a) lived for his work

He had little personal life.

His main relaxation was his dinner parties in which he encouraged important foreigners and Russians to drink, so that he could discover their weaknesses.


b) manipulated people by

  • keeping them uncertain about his ideas and intentions.
  • cleverly exploiting their weaknesses. 
  • never trusting them.

His motto was “there is no room for trust”.


c) was  dishonest and deceitful

(playing one person off against another by telling them opposite things).



4. Friends in high places

He became leader through the supporters he gained as a member of important committees within the Communist Party like the Politburo, the main policy making body.


5. Luck

He was lucky that Lenin died early just as he was beginning to turn against Stalin.

He also benefited from the Russian Revolution (1917), which he originally opposed.


6. Blaming other people

He blamed everybody else for his problems but never himself, denying the truth of painful facts.

He turned his weaknesses to his advantage at others’ expense.


7. Control of information

He controlled the media, so that communist propaganda was given to the people. Books, plays, operas, and even scientific theories all had to agree with his views.


8. Ambition and willpower


 Joseph Stalin Leadership

a) was highly narcissistic,

(i.e. he did everything for himself, not anybody else)


b) wanted power 

(and did anything ,good and bad, to get it- like Hitler (pictured right above). 

 Joseph Stalin Leadership

c) was desperate to prove himself as great as his illustrious predecessor, Lenin (pictured right together in 1919).


9. Purpose

He had one main public aim: “socialism in one country” to overtake the West economically and protect Russia from invasion.


Key quote on influencing people

I believe in one thing only, the power of human will.

I trust no one, not even myself.


Key quotes on death

One death is a tragedy, a million deaths a statistic.

Death solves all problems – no man, no problem.


Key quotes on politics and government

The only real power comes out of a long rifle.

Print is the sharpest and the strongest weapon of our party.


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