A hegemon is an individual who exercises a powerful but indirect authority over others. By definition, hegemons lack a formalized structure of rule, but this is often by design, as it allows them to avoid looking like tyrannical oppressors.

Hegemons rarely have to employ direct coercion because others will often step in voluntarily to enforce their will before they even express it. Thus it is often difficult to directly blame the hegemon for its oppressive influence. A hegemon's power is built upon mutually beneficial albeit lopsided reciprocal relationships and the natural human instinct to stick with the devil one knows and maintain the status quo.

Good examples of hegemons include Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Pope Innocent III, and that really popular kid in elementary school.