[January 20, 2020] Four years ago here at theLeaderMaker.com, I wrote profiles on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (see links here and here). Unlike other profiles you may read on political candidates for office, I will be contrasting their “character” against those elements required for successful leadership.
While many traits are associated with senior leadership, a few stand out. For example, being authentic, open, charismatic, and mentally tough are some of those we see every day as we watch those leaders speak. We value strength over weakness, virtue over evil, and integrity over dishonesty. I’ll be contrasting those candidates’ traits against such a list and compare them against the characteristics of other famous leaders.
Political leadership, some will argue, differs from military leadership or from running a giant corporation. I disagree. The qualities of leadership have not changed since the beginning of humankind. True enough, there are stylistic differences. Fidel Castro was undoubtedly an authentic leader but he was also a ruthless killer of his opponents. This juxtaposition I will be exploring more in-depth over the next few weeks.
We should remember that leadership is the ability to get people to do things they would not ordinarily do. In that respect, all these candidates are successful, some more than others. Leadership, in this way, requires intelligence, an aptitude to work in large organizations, demonstrate caring for people, an ability to synthesize complex ideas and communicate them clearly, and be open to new and creative ideas.
Leadership also means having the social skills to appeal to the heart but also the strength to never abuse that ability to trick or mislead. U.S. President Bill Clinton was a man who could make everyone believe he cared about you as a person and that you were important.1 Some argue that this was his calling-card as President and why he was able to be re-elected despite several scandals.
I would ask that those who read these upcoming profiles to comment and argue with me. Please pick apart my ideas; by doing so, you only make my analysis better. I won’t take offense.
The first presidential candidate on my list is Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont). Yes, I will have more Democrat profiles (although Bernie is not a Democrat) because there are so many. I will also update my Donald Trump profile. Consider this article to be the first in a countdown series to the 2020 U.S. Presidential election to be held on November 3, 2020.
Sources of these profiles will be from books and articles written by the candidates themselves and listening to their speeches.
On a special note, today is Martin Luther King Day in the U.S. MLK was dedicated to the character of men and women and believed that we should be judged by what was inside us; how we behaved and not on our skin color. My profiles of people in my columns are based on his philosophy of life.