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Alfred Rosenberg Leadership Analysis

Short Biography of Alfred Rosenberg

Although being not as famous as other Nazi leaders like Goering, Goebbels and Himmler, Alfred Rosenberg played a central role not only in the development of the Nazi philosophy of Aryan racial superiority, anti-Semitism and Lebensraum but also in bringing the Nazi party to power. Surprisingly, Rosenberg, like Hitler, was not born in Germany but in Estonia which was then a part of the Russian Empire. It is in the Estonian city of Tallinn that Rosenberg was born in 1893 to wealthy Baltic Germans. Showing intellectual giftedness from an early age, he distinguished himself as an engineering student in Tallinn and in Moscow where he obtained his Master’s and PhD levels in architecture in 1917. It was in the same year that the Russian Revolution began. Opposed to the Bolshevik revolutionaries led by Lenin, Rosenberg fled to Germany when the counter-revolutionaries failed to topple the Lenin regime. He took with him a deep loathing of the Bolshevik regime and its Jewish elites when he settled in Munich. There he became one of the earliest members of the new Nazi party and began his life-long career as a politician and a racial theorist that sought to prove the superiority of the Aryan race. For his work as a racial and religious philosopher of the Nazi party and administrator of many Eastern European lands during World War II, Rosenberg was captured, tried and found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Nuremberg and then hanged. He left behind his wife Hedwig Kramer whom he married in 1925 after the divorce from his first wife, Hilda Leesman in 1923, and a daughter, Irene (Cecil, 1970).

Leadership Analysis of Alfred Rosenberg

Even though today it is buried in infamy thanks to its actions before and during the Second World War, the Nazi party and its leader Adolf Hitler took Germany and the world by storm in the relatively short period of their existence. Such was its massive power and influence that only a coalition of powerful nations like USA, USSR and the British Empire could stop it from achieving absolute world domination and implementing its horrific racial programs. The Nazi leaders might have been morally bankrupt but there can be no denying that many of them were outstanding. As one of these leaders, Alfred Rosenberg showed leadership traits that fall in some of the five practices of exemplary leadership that were analyzed by Kouzes and Posner (2002).


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Model the Way

Using this leadership practice, the leader clearly explains the principles, values and beliefs that guide people’s behavior and actions. They the leaders lead others by living every bit of their teachings. Others, moved by the strength of these beliefs and actions, follow suit (Kouzes & Posner, 2002).

Certain aspects of Alfred Rosenberg’s leadership style show that he was a model the way leader. He strongly believed that Jews were a threat to the well-being of the superior Aryan race to which he belonged. Given the prominent role Jewish leaders like Leon Trotsky played in establishing communism in Russia, he also came to strongly believe that communist Russia or Jewish-Bolshevism posed an existential threat to the Germanic race and, therefore, had to be annihilated. He explained these anti-Semitic and anti-communism beliefs as well as his other racial theories in articles to right wing newspapers and in his book titled ‘The Myth of the Twentieth Century’ that was published in 1930.

Rosenberg lived adhering to these beliefs throughout his life. He sought their implementation by being among the earliest members of the Nazi party which aimed at realizing them. In his Nazi political career, he was often treated with contempt by other Nazi leaders like Goebbels who poured scorn on Rosenberg’s theories and beliefs. He was also given insultingly junior positions within the party despite having joined it even earlier than Hitler. Despite this isolation and humiliation, Rosenberg remained true to his beliefs. When he got a chance to implement them during the Second World War as the administrator of conquered territories in the east, he was bringing them to life with vigor and enthusiasm. To his death, even after the full horrors of the holocaust had come to light, he remained a believer of the threat posed by Jews and communists to the Germanic race. In that aspect, he served as a model for other anti-Semitic and anti-communist Germans and Europeans (Cecil, 1970).

Inspire a Shared Vision

Leaders who lead by inspiring a shared vision are able to visualize an exciting future in which the aspirations and hopes of the people are achieved. They then communicate this ideato the audience through effective public speaking and writing. In this way, they instill in others a belief that the vision is beneficial to them and achievable. In addition, they inspire enthusiasm and a passion for the idea among the people in such a manner that they become willing to do whatever is needed to achieve it (Kouzes & Posner, 2002).

There are many factors that made Alfred Rosenberg poor at leading through inspiring a shared vision. He was a poor public speaker, as he was boring and lacked charisma. Moreover, his arrogant personality endeared him to very few people. His articles and books were poorly written as he employed very long sentences and presented his ideas in an incoherent manner. As his colleague Albert Speer (1970) observed this made Rosenberg’s writings very difficult to read even for Hitler himself. As a result of these factors, Rosenberg could not inspire a shared vision in an effective manner.

Challenge the Process

Leaders who challenge the process seek to change the status quo. Convinced that the new idea they have is better than an existing one, they seek to replace it with theirs. Even though it is a risky undertaking, their strong belief in the new idea pushes them through numerous risks and repeated failures (Kouzes & Posner, 2002).

Coming to Germany from Russia in 1918, Alfred Rosenberg believed that fighting Jews and communists and expanding Germany’s territories into Eastern Europe should be the main priorities of the German government. Much to his disgust, Germany was ruled after the First World War by the Weimar Republic which prioritized strengthening liberal democracy and maintenance of peaceful coexistence with its neighbors as it implemented the terms of the Versailles Treaty. To Alfred Rosenberg, these actions of the Weimar government would weaken Germany and diminish its power and prestige. He, therefore, set out to change this status quo and replace it with the ideas of National Socialism which, he believed, would make Germany strong, able to defeat its enemies and create conditions which would enable the aspirations and talents of the Nordic race to express itself to the fullest (Cecil, 1972).

He challenged the process by participating in the unsuccessful Beer Hall Putsch in 1923 which sought to overthrow the Weimar Republic and in the Nazi take-over of power a decade later. In power, he unsuccessfully tried to establish Positive Christianity as Germany’s state religion to challenge the dominance of Catholic and Protestant churches (Cecil, 1972).

At heart, Rosenberg was deeply uncomfortable with the status quo. Unfortunately, his weak personality and limited political skills meant that only those ideas that he shared with other more talented and powerful political leaders like Hitler were implemented.

Enable Others to Act

A leader who solely relies on his/her talents, skills and effort to achieve results is bound to fail. A good leader should be a team player who attains goals through collaborating with others. By enabling other players within the team to make full use of their talents and skills, it becomes easier to achieve the collective goals of the organization (Kouzes & Posner, 2002).

Unfortunately for Alfred Rosenberg, his personality limited his ability to lead through enabling others to act. He was cold, introverted, unfriendly, arrogant and aloof. These personality traits made it difficult for him to work closely with other Nazi leaders as a team both before and after the Nazis came to power. This partly explains why his influence within the Nazi party and government remained marginal throughout his political career (Cecil, 1972).

Encourage the Heart

Not all actions geared towards achievement of a particular objective become successful. There are times when things become difficult and members of the organization tasked with attaining of the goals become disillusioned. A good leader has to inspire hope in such difficult times. When things go well, they should celebrate the efforts of those who enabled the results to be achieved. This could be done through words of encouragement and praise, holding of parties or any other act that celebrates good work of others (Kouzes & Posner, 2002).

Alfred Rosenberg became the leader of the Nazi party when Hitler was imprisoned after the failure of the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. Even though these were extremely tough times for the party, Rosenberg did little to encourage its members to be faithful and to keep hope alive. Not surprisingly, many individuals left the party or started looking up to other junior leaders for leadership and encouragement. In addition, Rosenberg was always envious of other people and this trait might have made it hard for him to celebrate the successes of other people (Cecil, 1972).

Other Leadership Model that Describes Alfred Rosenberg’s Leadership Style

Alfred Rosenberg was primarily an ideologue seeing his role more as providing the Nazi party with ideological and philosophical framework that defined its rule rather than leading the movement himself. Perhaps because of this, he invested little effort and energy in the leadership roles he was given. In any case, he showed little talent in those roles. As Nazi leader during Hitler’s imprisonment, as the party’s head of the foreign affairs department and as the administrator of the conquered eastern territories during the Second World War, Rosenberg showed strong autocratic tendencies. He made decisions alone and expected his subordinates to implement them without question (Cecil, 1972). As such, Rosenberg’s leadership style was largely autocratic.

DCIS Profile of Alfred of Rosenberg

Rosenberg’s DCIS profile is Doer, Cautious and Supportive. Of the three the Doer trait was his strongest. His task-oriented skills were stronger than his people-oriented skills. For him, the main focus was to implement Lebensraum, annihilate Jews and communists and establish Positive Christianity as Germany’s main religion. His lack of strong people-oriented skills doomed most of his dreams as it limited his ability to get the power and influence that was needed to implement them. He was also very reserved, especially when addressing large numbers of people. This partly explains why he was such a poor public speaker.


Had Alfred Rosenberg lived in a different time, he would, perhaps, have become a fine engineer or architect. Unfortunately, fate was to hand him a role that he was wholly unsuitable for by temperament and talent. An introverted ideologue could not lead an activist party. Moreover, diplomatic success could not be expected from a cold, arrogant and unfriendly man. Certainly a person who was fiercely loyal to ideology could not be expected to make a mark in a party that valued action above everything else. Therefore, Alfred Rosenberg’s tragedy is not that he lacked talents but that fate continuously put him in positions that were completely unsuitable for his temperament and abilities.

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