I am writing a paper on a dystopia and how the leader came to be. I need a term to describe how he wasn't elected into power but he just assumed the role of instigator and no one questioned him.

  • Why not tyrant?
    – bib
    Sep 15, 2015 at 12:01
  • I am trying to make the leader look like an okay person Sep 15, 2015 at 12:02
  • 1
    Could you give the sentence you would like to write but with a blank where the word should go? The extra context will help. Thanks. Sep 15, 2015 at 12:06
  • 1
    @JonyAgarwal Or possibly a take-charge lady!
    – WS2
    Sep 15, 2015 at 12:27
  • 1
    a natural leader
    – GEdgar
    Sep 15, 2015 at 12:41

5 Answers 5


I don't think there's a standard single-word term, but Google Books claims about 3,220 results for...

self-appointed leader

(There are a few hundred more for self-appointed ruler, for example.)

I don't think self-appointed necessarily and inherently carries negative connotations, but it's possible not everyone shares that view. So you might also consider...

de facto - something generally accepted or agreed to without any formal decision in its favor:
“They never elected him; he became their leader de facto.” - dictionary.reference.com
“He is our de facto leader”


To describe a head of state (or another constituency) who wasn't elected but assumed office through sheer determination, charisma, trickery, demagoguery, assassination or war, I would say he muscled his way to the top.


A providential leader may fit.

Essentially the "providential leader" is an influent patriot that has the opportunity to do something for the country and that takes into account the concerns expressed by the people in charge and around to bring a better contribution to its country.


"he naturally emerged as a leader"

  • His personality traits - actions and attitudes - were such that he naturally emerged as a leader.

"he was a born-leader"

All others were no match for him. He was a born-leader and rose to that post naturally, facing no opposition.


There is a concept benevolent despotism (also called enlightened despotism) that suggests absolute power, but with a heart.

Associated with this term is a saying I have heard, but whose source I cannot find:

The best form of government is benevolent despotism -- so long as I get to pick the despot.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.