Just as individuals in friendships eventually become communities, so those communities organize into societies. While leaders arise spontaneously in circles of friendship, in mature communities that process is managed.

Communities create social structures to focus the power needed to provide services to the community, and to negotiate conflict with other communities. In well-managed communities, power is rerouted occasionally to the member(s) best able to address current needs. However, the community is sustained over the long term by a continuity of vision that resides normally in a small core, if not a single individual. History has proven that exceptional leaders command loyalty across generations, social classes and professions. Philosophy has concerned itself over the centuries with an analysis of the characteristics of the personalities best able to receive and honorably discharge that trust.

When a mature community recognizes the emergence of potential leaders, it joins them to more experienced and connected individuals - individuals with more social power - for mentoring. Immature societies, such as Saddam Hussein's Iraq, have been known to take a somewhat more competitive attitude to the natural emergence of new leaders. They attempt to separate them - sometimes permanently - from their constituencies.