Hidden Leadership And A Variety Of Success Models In Modern Society 


The discourse about personality in changes of modernity in the social sciences and humanities is interdisciplinary. The changes taking place with the personality in modern society are discussed in methodological coordinates: simplicity and complexity, uniformity and diversity, certainty and uncertainty, stability and transitivity. Transformations of modernity inevitably lead to a change in the life strategies of individual. Along with ideas about society, the ideas about leadership are changing. In the space of modernity, the concept of a multitude of personal lifestyles and a variety of success models as a new social norm of a transitive society is gradually becoming normative. The terms and conceptual models that describe the current changes are also changing: for example, solidarity – self-organizing communities focused not only on a special lifestyle, but on common and shared values ​​are replacing subcultures. The ideas about the leader and the crowd, and the hierarchical models of leadership are being replaced by network models with distributed leadership, which show the productivity of self-organization and horizontal interaction of community members. We assume that it is in youth movements that the leader phenomenon can be detected which exists today in diffuse and latent forms. We also assume that the transformation of forms of leadership is directly related to a change in ideas about society, the diversification of lifestyles, and the diversity of success models in modern society. An important role is played here by people with an internal locus controls focused on the values ​​of self-realization and creating new cultural practices.

Keywords: Personalitymodern societyleadershipvariety of success modelsinternal locus of controlinterdisciplinary approach


Transformations of modernity are an interdisciplinary field of study for philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, cultural researchers, etc. The contemporary discourse is a conventional project in which its coordinate axes formed, such as simplicity and complexity, uniformity and diversity, certainty and uncertainty, stability and transitivity (Barnett, 2000; Bauman, 2011; Giddens, 1990; Lyotard, 1984). A sign of civilizational development today is considered a movement from simplicity and uniformity to complexity and diversity, from certainty and stability to uncertainty and transitivity (Asmolov, 2015; Martsinkovskaya, 2015). Understanding the transformations of modernity allows us to state that there is not only a change in the pace of life, but also qualitative personality changes in sociocultural and psychological spaces.

Simplicity and complexity: nativists and globalists

Nowadays there is a revision of conceptual models, concepts of reality and terms describing modernity. So, Krastev (2017) drew attention to a change in the leading categories that previously successfully described the political reality of the twentieth century. Subdivisions into “leftists” and “rightists”, “liberals” and “conservatives” were replaced by “nativists” and “globalists”. Some are characterized by simplicity of perception, while others are cognitively complex. These persons differ among themselves by different types of identity. Globalists are more mobile, they are also actors (active figures) and authors of their own lives. Their confidence in their future is based primarily on professionalism and education, and this gives them the opportunity to feel comfortable in new places and with new people. Nativists are characterized not by mobile, but by stable identity. Their identity is based on belonging to a specific place and a certain group, and therefore changes cause them anxiety and insecurity (Krastev, 2017).

Diversity: The heterogeneity and inconsistency of modernity

Modernity is not only fluid (Bauman, 2011), but also heterogeneous (Bloch, 1991). Different generations and people with different pictures of the world live in one era, even representatives of one generation can be in the space of modernity, but in different cultural and psychological times. It is different generations that make historical time multidimensional, and therefore the thinking of a particular era does not come down to a single style or type, but is always polyphonic (Mannheim, 1940). In each era, different types of personality, different styles of thinking and different models of success are presented. Thus, cultural and historical eras are not homogeneous, along with linear and obvious, they hide network and latent movements and trends (Guseltseva 2019).

The uncertainty and transitivity of modernity

Exploring the problem of employment, Toshchenko (2019) noted that traditional concepts such as “working class”, “peasantry”, “intelligentsia” have become blurred and fragmented these days. The social-class structure of society today is becoming a kaleidoscope of communities that do not have or practically do not have common features. Earlier B. Latour wrote about this, arguing that society does not exist, but only communities, and it is necessary to study their relations and interactions with each other. Society is an abstraction; society does not explain anything; it must itself be explained (Latour, 2005). From this perspective, the studies of Omelchenko (2019) show that other associations of people who she called “solidarity” come to replace the subcultures these days.

Problem Statement

These multiple changes of our time force us to reexamine existing interpretations and explanatory models but quite often their description ignores the appearance of fundamentally new layers and movements that determine the transformations of modernity. Thus, we face a methodological task: not only to describe the changed reality, but also to inventory the methodological optics and terminological apparatus that we use to explore this reality. In light of this task, we intend to analyze youth perceptions of leadership and models of success in modern society.

Leader and leadership as a research issue

The concept of "leader" means leading, guiding, indicating the path and captivating other people. In psychology, leadership phenomena were studied in the framework of factorial (trait theory), situational (situation analysis), motivational, behavioral, and integral theory of leadership. However, already in the middle of the twentieth century approaches to the study of leadership have changed, moving from the analysis of individual outstanding qualities to the analysis of behavioral strategies and interaction in a group. So, Levin highlighted leadership styles that describe how a leader interacts with his environment. The factor of diversity came to the fore: different leadership styles with varying degrees of effectiveness coped with different situations (as cited in Lipman-Blumen 2004). The authoritarian leadership style was suitable for a community model where power is tightly centralized and the leader himself makes decisions that are most appropriate in mobilization and critical situations where certain actions need to be quickly performed. A democratic leadership style is characterized by a distribution of power; decisions are made collectively in the process of discussion and coordination. This leadership style is effective for solving both everyday (routine) and promising tasks. This gives rise to mutual trust and cohesion of the group. In a liberal style of leadership, the leader delegates his own authority to other members of the team. Later, a narcissistic style was also added to the study of the forms and types of leadership, where the leader focuses the group's attention on himself, often sacrificing other interests; as well as a toxic style that worsens the quality of activity and group well-being (Lipman-Blumen 2004). Researchers also discuss the phenomena of crisis, loss or “dispersal” of leadership in a diversified society (Bennis & Thomas, 2002; Bradfort & Cohen, 1998; Vikhanskiy & Mirakyan, 2018.). We assume that in youth movements leadership exists today in dispersed and latent forms. We also suggest that the transformation of leadership forms is associated with a variety of lifestyles and models of success in modern society.

Personality success and success models as a research issue

Success studies many sciences from political science to social psychology. Most areas of research focus on the issues of personality success of success and factors of human success in society. Despite the diversity of perceptions of success, most studies suggest dividing success into external and internal (Chilikina, 2010; Rikel, 2012). The first type of success is more focused on social approval and external (material or social, status) achievements. The second type of success is associated with self-reflection, awareness and personal experience of one’s own actions. The heterogeneity of modernity, the diversity of life styles and individual strategies in the field of employment and leisure in modern society leads to a variety of success models. The correlation of models of external and internal success is a dynamic variable, both during the life of one person, and regarding the representation of different life strategies of different people in one society.

Research Questions

The key transformations of modernity have their consequences for both social psychology and personality psychology: changing forms of leadership in youth movements and a variety of success models, which becomes a factor in generating new cultural practices in society.

Hidden leadership in modern youth movements

It seems that the phenomenon of leadership in modern youth movements has undergone changes and exists in hidden and dispersed forms.

A variety of success models in modern society

It can be assumed that the key transformations of our time have determined the diversity of success models, which also influenced the growth of individual strategies and the construction of life styles for adolescents and youth.

Purpose of the Study

  • Analyze changes in the phenomenon of leadership in modern youth movements.

  • To study the diversity of success models in modern society in connection with new cultural practices.

  • To reveal the possibilities of an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the phenomena of a transitive society.

Research Methods

In the process of research interdisciplinary and comparative-analytical methods were used, as well as the method of comparative analysis of secondary sources.


We found that in the study of the phenomenon of leadership there are certain differences in approaches and methodological optics. In Russian studies, leadership is usually considered primarily as a group phenomenon, where the leader either correlates with a social group or is a product of the development of the team. Leadership is formed as a result of interactions and relationships in a social group. Whereas in Western and American studies, especially until the middle of the 20th century, it was typical to study the leader not so much from the standpoint of social psychology, but from the standpoint of personality psychology or management theories, where the leader is a person characterized by special psychological qualities, behavioral strategies, model-oriented success, etc.

However, as it happens in a modern transforming society with many other concepts and phenomena – with employment (Toshchenko, 2019), with socialization processes (Martsinkovskaya, 2015), with subcultures (Omelchenko, 2019), “leader” and “leadership” are today it is by no means the concepts that adequately describe, let alone understand and interpret, the radically changed reality and especially the nascent youth movements, the values ​​and ideals of new generations that form in them. We found that leadership, previously explored in a variety of styles, has been replaced by the phenomenon of hidden and dispersed leadership, where leaders spontaneously appear and then disappear as the task progresses. There was a transition from the pyramidal model of leadership (Figure 1 ) to the network model of power distribution (Figure 2 ) (Guseltseva, 2019). In turn, the diversity of communities in modern society entailed a variety of patterns of behavior as the norm of life.

Figure 1: Hierarchical (pyramidal) leadership model
Hierarchical (pyramidal) leadership model
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Figure 2: Network leadership model (hidden leadership)
Network leadership model (hidden leadership)
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Different ideas about leadership depending on the subjective locus of control

Chilikina’s (2010) study showed that ideas about leadership and leadership qualities are due to one or another locus of control. It is important to note that individuals with internal and external loci of control need different types of leadership, more effective with a certain leadership style. So, for individuals with an internal locus of control, such leadership qualities as determination, organization, activity, perseverance are significant. The leader is expected to be able to formulate a clear picture of the prospects for collective action. Personal responsibility, orientation towards achieving one's own success, independence and independence characterize the type of leadership with an internal locus of control. If social status plays an important role in the ideas of leadership of people with an external locus of control (“externals”), then for people with an internal locus of control (“internals”) this profile of the leader is the least common. The “internals” in the idea of ​​a leader are more oriented to internal, personal resources: the presence of skills, abilities, knowledge and certain personal qualities, rather than external circumstances that are not dependent on them. Differences in perceptions in groups of “internals” and “externals” shows that “internals” give preference to the inner qualities of a leader, while “externals” place a greater emphasis on external indicators and manifestations of leadership (Chilikina, 2010). People with an internal locus of control are more likely to establish internal, personal, and individualized leadership criteria. In turn, for people with an external locus of control, external indicators such as social status and social recognition are more important in the leadership profile. The lack of responsibility as a stable personality quality among tested externalities leads to a narrower understanding of the leader’s phenomenology (Chilikina, 2010).

From a hierarchical leadership model to a dispersed (distributed) model

Instead of the leadership model characteristic of the twentieth century, models of distributed authority come in our time. However, methodological strategies for “catching” the phenomena of hidden leadership and latent activism were invented earlier. We found that a productive methodology for studying this problem was developed in French poststructuralism. It is through the optics of French poststructuralism that those aspects of personality and leadership are visible that are formed in the process of resistance to pressure and environmental influences. The deliverance from ideological power, the resistance of an individual and society to the pressure of power was investigated by Barthes (2013).

Barthes (2013) developed the term “idiorrhythmia”. He discovered that all power seeks to establish a certain rhythm in the life of society - in speech, thinking, time, etc. Linking the activity of society with rhythms and controlling its everyday life, power, on the one hand, seeks to expand its limit, and on the other hand, creates stylistic totality. R. Barthes called the idiorrhythm “special rhythm”, a free space that exists outside given rhythms, and, therefore, minimally in contact with power. Moreover, this kind of free space tends to fall out of sight of the authorities, forming a kind of “blindspot” (Barthes, 2013). Thus, idiorrhythmia characterizes the lifestyle of people who not only consciously build life in solitude, but also are able to find and maintain their own personal or professional rhythm of development. In fact, these are people with an internal locus of control.

This idea of self-development, self-determination and self-organization plays an important role both in modern psychology and in the social sciences. If we use this model to analyze modern youth movements, we can assume that instead of the usual communities, communities, and subcultures, new idiorrhythmic structures are emerging these days that promote self-organization and support the personal pace and personal rhythm of human development. These trends have found expression in the study of individual employment strategies, lifestyles, individualization of behavioral practices, etc. For example, studies by Omelchenko (2019) show that self-organization practices are spontaneously formed among Russian youth, civic values emerge (a new type of patriotism focused on ethical consumption and environmental concerns). It is important to note that to fix the changes that are taking place, Omelchenko uses new terms: instead of “subcultures” there appear “solidarity” based on the value cohesion of young people; instead of the official patriotism, “everyday citizenship” arises.

A variety of models of success in modern society and adolescent perceptions of success

Russian philosopher Tulchinskiy (1990) identified five basic models of success, depending on the orientation of the individual towards: 1) social recognition of one’s own abilities and achievements, status, fame and popularity in society; 2) selective recognition and support of a person by a reference group; 3) productive overcoming difficulties and increasing self-esteem; 4) self-improvement; 5) realization of vocation, enjoyment of the creative process. In a study by Bukhalenkova (2018), ideas about success in adolescence were studied. Three main models of understanding success by modern adolescents were identified: 1) success as social recognition, 2) as the fulfillment of social requirements, 3) as self-development and self-realization. Teenagers' notions of success as self-development and self-realization turned out to be associated with a high level of meaningfulness of life and self-esteem, as well as with a detailed image of their own future. The study by Bukhalenkova (2018) showed that adolescents who understand success as fulfilling external social requirements are characterized by a low level of self-esteem and meaningfulness of life, and their image of their own future is least detailed. On the contrary, adolescents who understand success as self-realization and self-development are distinguished by high rates of self-esteem and feelings of meaningfulness in their lives; they have the most detailed, detailed and optimistic image of their future.


Modernity is characterized by the fact that in one society there is a variety of values, leadership models, success models, and life practices.

Change of leadership model: from hierarchical to network

The diversification of the sociocultural space and the growth of self-organization of communities leads to a change in leadership models - a transition from a hierarchical model of leadership to the phenomenon of network (hidden, fluid, variable, mobile, unstable) leadership.

The importance of the strategy of self-organization on the path to personality success

Instead of a normative model of life in a transitive society, a variety of life styles and success models appears. However, despite the fact that various models of success are supported in modern society, a strategy of self-realization becomes a very significant strategy for achieving success, which implies a conscious attitude to building the trajectory of one’s life, focusing on the internal locus of control. Thus, the internal locus of control plays a key role in building a life strategy and a confident image of your future. We assume that the internal locus of control is the competence of the success of personality development in a transitive society.

An interdisciplinary approach for research integration

A change in methodological optics is needed for research, because in this changed reality leaders disappear (in the usual notion of leadership prevailing in the twentieth century), self-organizing communities, solidarity, new social practices, hidden leaders suddenly appear to solve problems and again disappear in crowd when problems are resolved.

An important role in understanding the changes is made by an interdisciplinary analysis: sociological surveys and empirical data, portraits of young people drawn by ethnographers and anthropologists, generational change theories, etc. – all this material makes sense when it is integrated into research. It is interdisciplinary analysis that creates the necessary conceptual framework for the integration of all these rather diverse studies.


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15 November 2020

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Psychology, personality, virtual, personality psychology, identity, virtual identity, digital space

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Asmolov, A., & Guseltseva, M. (2020). Hidden Leadership And A Variety Of Success Models In Modern Society . In T. Martsinkovskaya, & V. Orestova (Eds.), Psychology of Personality: Real and Virtual Context, vol 94. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 26-34). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.11.02.4