Vladimir Putin Leadership Style

There are plenty of cliches to quote about Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. Often perceived as a ruthless warmonger who flouts international norms and cares only about himself, Putin is the world leader that other world leaders love to hate. 

But is this assessment of him really true? It’s certainly not wrong to say that the current president of the Russian Federation is a bag of contradictions:  a former loyal KGB agent who once declared the fall of the USSR as the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” in modern history, yet who’s also a billionaire who lives in opulent luxury and wears expensive Rolex watches; a ruler who claimed in 2020 to want to bring about the “dictatorship of law”, but who is alleged to imprison with impunity anyone who dares challenge his political hegemony.
So what really makes this neo-Tsarist demagogue tick, and which version of this complicated man will the world face in the coming years? 

What Leadership Style Does Vladimir Putin Have?

Winston Churchill once described Russia as being like “a riddle, wrapped up in a mystery, inside an enigma”.
That sentiment could easily apply to Vladimir Putin too, given what little concrete information we have about the president’s early life and later personality. And it’s this opaqueness that is actually a unique feature of Putin’s leadership style. He’s a master of what’s come to be known as “active measures”, a quintessentially Russian doctrine of warfare that incorporates deception, subversion and disinformation.
And yet this aspect of Putin we feel like we already know. But there is much more to the Russian president’s toolkit than just his ability to psychologically get the upper hand of his enemies. Putin is also decisive and sure-headed, once having said that if a fight or conflict is “inevitable”, that he won’t hesitate to throw the first punch.
This trait was clearly seen in 2014 when, in the wake of the foreign-orchestrated Euromaidan Revolution, his “little green men” invaded the Crimean Peninsula and reasserted control over what Russians believe is historically their rightful and undisputed territory.
Putin is also a grand strategist, a long-range thinker. His forays in Libya and Syria – and now other parts of the African continent too – are all aspects of a wider plan to secure influence and a physical presence in areas of the world that will become resource flash-points in the years to come.

Is Vladimir Putin An Autocratic Leader?

On the material facts alone there is no doubt at all that Putin rules Russia with an autocratic hand.
His manipulation of the country’s constitution is proof of this. The latest constitutional reforms initiated by Putin, put into effect through executive order in July 2020, have made it so that Putin can, in theory, remain president until 2036, with a further bill passed later in December of 2020 giving lifetime criminal immunity to all former Russian heads of state.
But as is so often the case with Vladimir Putin, things are not always as clear cut as they might at first seem. While the president’s control of Russian political life does suggest some elements of autocratic rule, the extent of his influence makes him more akin to an authoritarian leader who does not quite possess absolute power.
To be sure, Putin can direct, or intimidate, his political allies in ways unseen in any other western democratic state; in the wake of his amendments to the constitution in 2020, Putin’s entire government resigned en masse, not due to some futile attempt to protest the changes, rather because Putin simply ordered them to. He would shortly go on to fire Russia’s prosecutor general for good measure. 
However, Russia does have a functioning parliamentary-style national legislature, the Federal Assembly, whose members in the State Duma are elected by Russian citizens every five years. The Duma retains the right to pass all potential laws in Russia, and even has the power to overrule the veto mechanism given to the influential Federation Council, the upper house of the bicameral Assembly. 
Historically, few autocrats have been subject to a parliamentary body as independent and powerful as the State Duma, and calls into question the reality of Putin’s supposed ability to govern Russia with an iron fist.

Is Vladimir Putin A Transformational Leader?

Putin is now in his third decade as the most important personality at the center of Russian political, social, military and diplomatic life.
He took over the reins of power from Boris Yeltsin on the first day of the second millennium, and right from the beginning had his work cut out. Where Yeltsin’s presidency had mixed success, Putin was left with a Russia controlled to a large degree by unscrupulous oligarchs, and an economic situation on the brink.
In the years since taking the mantle of president, Vladimir Putin has certainly transformed Russia from its struggling post-communist hangover of food shortages and hyperinflation, to a confident world superpower that can dictate energy policy to a failing and flailing West.
Putin’s transformative mettle wasn’t something that just landed on his plate either; he has been continually tested in the white-hot fire of adversity and struggle too. A string of crises both at home and abroad have honed Putin’s leadership skills into what they are today.
He had to deal with the spectre of domestic terrorism with incidents such as the Moscow theater siege and the horrifying Beslan school massacre, as well as exacting wars with Chechen separatists and an as yet unresolved situation arising out of the Georgian–Ossetian conflict.
But Vladimir Putin not only dealt with these problems, but in many cases made Russia a better place because of them. And his talents don’t only cover military concerns either. On environmental matters, Putin is well-known for his conservation efforts protecting endangered Russian wildlife species, and, contrary to his reputation for not caring about global warming, was actually a signatory to the original Kyoto Protocol in 2004.
Furthermore, Putin is a keen sportsman and has elevated Russia’s position on the world sporting stage by hosting successful Winter Olympics and World Cup tournaments on Russian soil.
Perhaps Putin’s greatest contribution to change in Russia is the economic miracle that he and his government performed over the last 20 years. His reforms in the early days of his presidency and the help from the commodities boom of later years meant that Russia was able to pay all its existing Soviet-era debts by 2005, and increased its overall income almost 5-fold between 2000 and 2016.
As a sign of Russia’s economic recovery, the country was admitted to the World Trade Organization in August 2012.

Is A Vladimir Putin A Billionaire?

One of Vladimir Putin’s most characteristic traits is his ability to appear relatable to the average Russian citizen. His humble early background and his professed allegiance to at least some aspects of the communist ideology make him seem like the everyman of Russian politics.
But how would this public image fare if it was revealed that Putin was not just a billionaire, but possibly one of the richest men on earth?
It makes sense, therefore, that Putin is, how shall we say, reticent about disclosing his true net worth. According to official sources, the Russian president earns a resolutely upper-middle-class wage packet of $135,000, and holds a handful of assets – including an 800 square-foot apartment flat in Saint Petersburg – not exceeding a few hundred thousand dollars.
However, the more skeptical might not think that this is the full story concerning Putin’s financial status. And you’d probably be right. According to statements made by hedge fund manager Bill Browder to the US Senate Judiciary Committee, Putin was actually shaking-down disgraced and out-of-favor Russian oligarchs for a 50% cut of their ill-gotten gains.
Moreover, Browder claims that Putin’s fortune is more in the region of $200 billion, rather than the modest figures that the Kremlin’s been putting about.
Even if that $200 billion estimate is out by an order of magnitude, Putin is still a very rich man. Other guesses at Putin’s bank balance, most notably by Stanislav Belkovsky, a one-time Russian government analyst, put the number at around $70 billion. It’s likely not far off this, either, given that Putin is alleged to own a multi-billion dollar palace and super yacht.

Is Vladimir Putin A Good Leader?

Putin’s power base is centered purely on the value he brings to the Russian people, and in this regard his success is intimately tied in with the success of Russia as a whole too.
The Russian populace seem to grasp this fact intuitively, and have rewarded Putin with continued electoral victories and astonishingly high approval ratings. 
His durability and ever-present role in Russian political life is remarkable, especially considering how much he has achieved with so little to work with. Putin is able to leverage strategic partnerships with friendly states such as Turkey and China to project a more powerful image around the world, and uses what he has at his disposal – such as plentiful natural gas reserves – to amplify his and Russia’s bargaining position with neighboring countries.


Although Putin is a tough leader who will do whatever he needs to do to maintain the safety and security of Russia’s borders and people, his strategic instincts also make him amenable to compromise whenever necessary.
His public persona is not always in tune with the way he actually lives behind closed doors, but his electorate don’t seem to mind this contradiction, and look to give this modern day potentate many more years in power.

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