What do you call someone who, merely by their presence, gives a morale boost to the people he is responsible for? What about someone who gains power from being supported by their troop?

If possible I would like to have word with military connotation, but a more "civilian" approach is also interesting.

EDIT: Jez gave a lot of interesting examples, but I am also interested in nouns, and all of Jez's example can't be "translated" into nouns that easily.

  • 1
    In D&D 4th Edition, we call these "Warlords".
    – Iszi
    Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 20:06
  • Do we have "subordinates" in modern civilian society?
    – slim
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 15:05
  • 1
    I think that's called a "leader".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 0:08

4 Answers 4


In terms of giving a morale boost, one could refer to an inspirational or totemic leader. As a noun, a leader could simply be described as an inspiration, although this is a broad term that can refer to any inspiration. If someone gains power/morale from being supported by their troop, they can be said to have been rallied by the troop, and in return they can rally their troop. As you suggested, the leader could also be motivated by their troops, or motivate their troops.

In a civilian as opposed to a military context, there are all sorts of positive adjectives one might wish to assign a good leader who boosts their people's morale. Some of these could be competent, charismatic, and charming. A great leader may become famous and/or celebrated.


Besides the previously-mentioned inspiring, motivating, and charismatic, consider

  • compelling, "forceful". Example: Under her compelling leadership they succeeded where none had before.
  • influential, "Having considerable influence". Example: He was influential in leading the team to success.
  • stimulating, "Having a manner that stimulates (encourages into action; arouses... to functional activity)". Example: Under her stimulating leadership, they found a new explanation.

A literal term for "someone who gains power from being supported by their troop" might be symbiont, a noun for a participant in symbiosis, "a relationship with mutual benefit between individuals or organisms". Of such a leader, one might use terms energised ("invigorated, made energetic; supplied with energy") if the leader feels inspired by the troops, or idolized or trusted if the leader gains political or military power via loyalty of troops.

  • I sincerely doubt that symbiont and symbiosis are used much outside the life sciences; certainly, I've never encountered either term used of the relationship between two individual people ('mutually dependent' or 'co-dependent' are much more likely in such a situation). Admittedly, one sometimes hears the expression symbiotic relationship used in relation to cooperating organizations.
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 10:44

I've head some people being described as talismanic which you could convert into the noun talisman to describe the individual? It's always used in the sense of an individual bringing good luck to a group, or who is always somehow linked to success of that group (but not necessarily being the leader of the group..)

A couple of examples where people are described as such:

I'd also swear there's a reference in my copy of "The Junior Officers' Reading Club" by Patrick Hennessy to a word like what you're after but I can't find it (the reference I'm thinking of, not my copy).

It is quite possible I'm thinking of the term old man (slang for the unit commander) as I've always read it in an affectionate/morale boosting sense. Will see if I can dig up some references to that effect (for argument's sake, I'm sure there's some in Starship Troopers..) but thought I'd post in lieu just incase this gives people ideas.


"Role model" is surely a (current) term for somebody who "inspires" their followers in some way. Whether it is a term which causes the "role model" to reciprocate the "follower's" feelings is beyond my understanding. It's a modern term which has been ill-defined. "Role model" could have both civilian (usually) and military connotations.

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