Looking around for leaders is not something that is done, rather they are just found. Many times cities or countries are lucky to have found such a leader like Pericles. When elected into office during times of peace a leader has different priorities than that of war. The representative of a group of people are expected to do what the majority pleases because they are there to relay the will of The People rather than their own will. This ideology has many snags that cause problems, those most evident during times of war.
In the case of Athens during the Peloponnesian War between Sparta, Pericles is a leader who falls into a situation where the snags of this idea of the “representative” begins to unravel. Popularity is an important factor of being a leader but to the majority, they simply need someone to blame when the situation goes awry. When the plan to easily defeat Sparta is met with unforseen circumstances in the form of a plague, people panic and turn to the leader and point their finger. Pericles is finned for a something as unforeseeable as a plague simply because it caused the people misfortune and they needed to blame someone.
He refused to be led by the people when they are thinking only of themselves, something that a good leader has to understand. The problem with leaders who only follow the feelings of the people are not thinking of the whole’s best interests. The long-term is in this case seen less signficant than the short-term. During their time of war, the Athenians needed a leader to take charge, understand the situation, and give counsel. A true leader doesn’t flatter the people like a sophist, but tells the truth. During times of triumph, a leader must bring them to reality and remind the people of troubles. When things go wrong he must also rally and build up their energy to carry on.
In Pericles fine for failing to foresee a plague that crippled the Athenian people, we see the result of how too much power to the people can be a negative thing. Popularity and momentary discomfort is a powerful factor to how people will act towards their leader. Their trust can easily be swayed in a frenzy of the feelings of a crowd in the moment and the problem is that trust is hard to acquire and easily lost. Leaders need to be competent and capable while the people trusting and symbiotic. Humans nature cannot make this work though. People will always be distrusting and will always wish to blame. Such is the problem with leaders, good and bad.