Character Analysis: King Galldrian of Cairhien
The King of Cairhien is a name only - the person never makes an appearance; but we learn a significant amount of his leadership style from "overhearing" conversations about him from the other characters.
"It was the Aiel War, Lord Rand." [Hurin] looked to make sure none of the soldiers were close enough to hear. "Many of the farmers were afraid ot go back to their lands near the Spine of the World, and they all came here, near anough. That's why Galldrian has the river full of grain barges up from Andor and Tear. There's no crops coming from farms in the east because there aren't many farms anymore. Best not to mention it to a Cairhienin though, my Lord. They like to pretend the war never happened, or at least that they won it."
Hurin, The Great Hunt, p. 310
"Are they having a festival?" Rand asked. ...
"No more than every day, Rand," Loial said. Walking alongside his horse, the blanket-wrapped chest still strapped to his saddle, the Ogier drew as many looks as the puppets had. Some even laughed and clapped as they had for the puppets. "I fear Galldrian keeps his people quiet by entertaining them. He gives gleemen and musicians the King's Gift, a bounty in silver, to perform here in the Foregate, and he sponsors horse races down by the river every day. There are fireworks many nights too." He sounded disgusted. "Elder Haman says Galldrian is a disgrace."
Rand and Loial, The Great Hunt, p. 311
Leadership is about people - it's a recurring theme as we've gone through the books. And it's about getting people to believe in themselves and in something bigger than themselves to push the limits and achieve more than they thought they could. It's about taking care of them - not hovering over them and removing every obstacle, but removing those that are outside their control; helping them develop the skills they need to go forth on their own. Elder Haman is right: buying them off with festivals, parades, fireworks and distractions is a waste of precious resources. That money could be used to develop plans to get the farmland back under production. That effort alone would be worth the effort: it would remove the burden placed on an overcrowded city, it would pay for itself by significantly reducing the imported grain, and it would cement the people to Galldrian. Instead, he bows to the whims of superstition and ghosts of wars past, throwing money around to cover up the real problems.