Bureaucratic squires: A critical analysis of the construction of charismatic top-leaders

Michael Sang, Oren Golan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Top-leaders continuously struggle to cultivate their image and duly face a challenge in fulfilling their role: establishing authority among their senior followers, while maintaining productive social distance to enhance charismatic appeal. Considering this challenge, rather than focusing on leader–follower relationship, this study critically spotlights the workings of top-leader assistants, referred to as squires (Weber & Moore, 2014). Accordingly, we inquire how squires construct the charisma of top-leaders within a bureaucratic setting. Through an extensive ethnographic study in Israeli military headquarters, alongside 28 semi-structured interviews with Generals, staff officers, and personal assistants of Generals, we identified two primary strategies by which squires enhance their top-leader’s charismatic appeal: daily aggrandizing rituals and wrapping. Daily rituals that occur in meetings and visitations enhance the leader’s aura as the embodiment of authority. Wrapping is diverse acts in which squires broker the leaders’ environment and access to subalterns, thus allowing leaders to focus on their primary agenda, while elevating their perceived status. These strategies allow dyadic performance of top-leaders and squires. They intricately utilize formal and informal interactions to sustain effective distance from followers, to foster disciplined selves among senior followers. Implications of the findings regarding the role of squires as power brokers and their equivalent roles in contemporary organizations are discussed, alongside implications regarding leadership and bureaucracy research.

Original languageEnglish
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • Charisma
  • bureaucracy
  • followership
  • headquarters
  • organizational authority
  • organizational rituals
  • social distance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management


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