Excerpt from "People of the Lie" Concerning Leadership
by M. Scott Peck

Individuals not only routinely regress in times of stress, they also regress in group settings.  If you do not believe this, watch a Lions Club meeting or a college reunion. One aspect of this regression is the phenomenon of dependency on a leader. It is quite remarkable. Assemble any small group of strangers- say a dozen or so- and almost the very first thing that happens is that one or two of them rapidly assume the role of group leader. It does not happen by a rational process of conscious election; it just happens naturally- spontaneously and unconsciously. Why does it happen so quickly and easily? One reason, of course, is that some individuals are either more fit to lead than others or else desire to lead more than the rest. But the more basic reason is the converse: most people would rather be followers. More than anything else, it is probably a matter of laziness. It is simply easy to follow, and much easier to be a follower than a leader. There is no need to agonize over complex decisions, plan ahead, exercise initiative, risk unpopularity, or exert much courage.

The problem is that the role of the follower is the role of a child. The individual adult as individual is master of his own ship, director of his destiny. But when he assumes the role of follower he hands over to the leader his power: his authority over himself and his maturity as decision-maker. He becomes psychologically dependent on the leader as a child is dependent on its parents. In this way there is a profound tendency for the average individual to emotionally regress as soon as he becomes a group member (p. 223)