Friday, June 15, 2007

US Presidency: Qualities Needed in a Leader

The recent debates for the American Presidential nomination are revealing some important leadership qualifications.

We might all vote for a different gift mix and quality set whenever we vote for a leader but there are some popular leadership requirements emerging:

Wet Feet
After the early ‘crush’ with Barack many devotees are reaching the conclusion voiced by African American, Harry Murphy, who said that Obama “needs to get his feet a little wetter.” For key leadership positions people like freshness and vitality but the untried neophytes are overlooked in favor of those with more experience under their belts.

Tortoise Features
The almost contradictory tortoise-like features of a hard shell and a soft body offer a desirable combination. A smiley, warm, nice guy countenance is a help but the soft, vulnerable heart seems more important and genuine. This was supremely evident when John and Elizabeth Edwards announced the news of her breast cancer which followed the tragic death of their son Wade. Hilary Clinton also demonstrated vulnerability when fielding questions about the difficulties of coping with her husband’s infidelity.

But Hilary has also exhibited a toughness that has been tested like steel through fire. Joe Mazzarese, a United Auto Works organizer, highlighted this gift when he said about Clinton, “If I was going to get into a fight, even in a war, I’d want her in my corner.” Years in the White House as partner of the President, stacks up as runs on the scoreboard of experience.

Obvious scars might be things that a plastic surgeon might want to erase but for potential leaders scars are valuable marks that attest to strength, courage and the ability to handle pressure. Sometimes these are literal scars won in battle or heroic adventure. Other times the emotional scars have been won in leading people through catastrophes like 9/11 and its aftermath.

Wet feet, warm demeanor, vulnerability, toughness, inner steel, battle scars—yes, all wanted in the one person. It’s not much to ask of a leader.

Geoff Pound

For an article that sparked this posting see Ronald Brownstein, ‘The Tough, but vulnerable, front-runner,’ LA Times, 13 June 2007.

Image: Leadership Possibilities.