09 February 2009

7 Traits of Great Political Leaders

Is there a chance that Our (non)governor, Luis "The Larva" Fortuño, will eventually wrap himself in a cocoon and emerge a mariposa, i.e., a full-fledged, effective political leader? (Let's ignore the fact that in Our slang, mariposa is also a word for a gay man, something some members of The Larva's party already call him. Oh, don't worry: people in other parties call him that, too. But since The Larva's sexuality is of no concern to anyone, We'll not mention it.)

A chance? Beyond question, indubitably, make no mistake, without a doubt, without any fear of error (as usual for Me) and sans hesitation: not a snowball's chance in hell.

Good-to-great political leaders combine 7 traits in a unique blend, and argue as much as you want, great political leaders have all 7 of these traits to a visible degree. The traits are: intelligence, integrity, will, charisma, "savvy," ruthlessness and egotism.

"Savvy" is shorthand for political acumen, that recognizable ability that struck raw fear in opponents of a Lyndon Johnson or Our past (un)governor The Jellyfish (on trial now for fraud charges; so much for integrity there, right?) It's that slick-slimy way some people have of making every situation a political knot that wraps their opponents and leaves them free. Not the true trait of a leader, but certainly a defining quality in a political leader.

Of the seven traits above, The Larva has only one: intelligence. (Mentioned first because in My book, it's the most valuable. Read on to find out how valuable it really is in this case.) The Larva obviously lacks charisma, "savvy," ruthlessness, will and egotism. The jury's still out (oh how clever of Me to link The Larva to The Jellyfish by mentioning a jury!) on whether The Larva has integrity. My money is on "yes," but I'm not wagering more than 22 cents...

On a scale of 70 (maximum 10 points per trait), I'd give The Larva a 22. (See the cleverness again? Man I have fun being Me!) So who's a better political leader? Let's look no further that two of Our favorite nicknamed targets, senate president Thomas "Tantrums 'R' Us" Rivera (didja notice the "T-R" sequence in there? Marvelous touch, huh?) and house president Jenniffer "Gluttonny" González.

Let's rate them, shall We?

Intelligence: I'd give "Tantrum" a 5 and "Gluttonny" a 4. Both could be lower, but I'm being generous in My specialty only because I can afford to be.

Integrity: I'll rate "Gluttonny" at 5 and "Tantrum" at 3. Both have inserted so many feet in their mouths they qualify as centipedes, but neither has really tossed all their integrity on the trash heap of ambition. Yet.

Will: Here "Gluttonny" takes a clear lead, rating at an 8 to "Tantrum"'s 5, largely because the latter hitched his will to former (mis)governor Pedro Stupid Rosselló while "Gluttonny" only pretended to hitch hers to The Larva's barely-existent will.

Charisma: Whereas "Gluttonny" has the grace of a bull in a china shop, "Tantrum" is more like a pit bull in a chain store. Neither attracts admirers so much as generates frowning curiosity. I'll give her a 3 and him a 4 only because men still attract more attention than women in Our political backwaters.

"Savvy": The clear lead here is for Gluttonny," deserving a 9, with "Tantrum" bringing in his rear at 5. He's getting better, but he's learning whereas "Gluttonny" is cruising.

Ruthlessness: Although his reputation is for being a maniacal hatchet man, "Tantrum" is actually measured in his actions. His pit bull bark is worse than his bite. (I'm so self-referential I may write Myself into this post...) On the other paw--hand--"Gluttonny" has shown to have a mean streak a mile wide. He gets a 4, she gets an 8. Moving on...

Egotism: "Tantrum" gets a 4 because he has yet to make a full break from Stupid's shadow (the same size as Stupid, but weighs nothing. Thanks, Steve.) "Gluttonny" is keeping her egotism under wraps, but it practically rumbles like a pre-earthquake tremor. So I'll say 6 for her.

Totals are: "Gluttonny": 43. "Tantrum": 30. However, the lead is greater if you take the importance of each trait for a political leader, where the list would be arranged from most to least important in this manner: will, savvy, egotism, charisma, ruthlessness, intelligence and integrity. In that order, "Gluttonny" leads "Tantrum" easily in 4 of the top 5 traits.

Now does this mean "Gluttonny" is a great political leader? Puh-lease. She's not. Does she have the capacity? Sure, just like I have the capacity to climb Mt. Everest on a pogo stick. (It's humanly possible, but juuuust barely.) And "Tantrum"? Ditto, only Me on a left-handed pogo stick. No, the whole "political leader traits" example is to show what makes a political leader in order to highlight and contrast what makes a true leader.

For you see, a true leader's trait list from most important to least, would be: integrity, will, charisma, savvy, intelligence, ruthlessness and egotism. The biggest difference is integrity, and political animals such as "Gluttonny" and "Tantrum" have already tossed that by the wayside. They can be good political leaders, and if struck by lightning in the forebrain, could mutate into great political leaders, of the kind that drag their societies and nations in new directions, not usually good ones.

But will they ever be good leaders, the kind that make their society an example for others to follow? No. And neither can The Larva. In that sense, whether it's 7 traits or 2 or 12, We're left with the certainty of Our so-called leaders falling far short--very far short--of what's so urgently needed.

The Jenius Has Spoken.


Anonymous said...

Trice and Beyer’s studies in 1896 show that Charismatic leaders affect their followers and have an important impact in the organisational culture. The Cremer and Knippenberg report published in Journal of Applied Psychology, 2002 used scenario experiments, cross-sectional surveys and laboratory studies to prove that Charismatic leaders had a stronger effect on cooperation than their non-Charismatic counterparts.

Most leaders today appreciate the impact that a Charismatic presence can have on their effectiveness. Charismatic Leaders attract more publicity, more attention from outside groups as well as exerting a strong (albeit invisible) bond with their organisation’s workforce. Numerous studies and experiments have been conducted that prove conclusively: Charismatic leaders are more successful. If you are seeking to become a Charismatic leader then this checklist of key requirements will help guide your thoughts, actions and behaviours.

Charismatic leaders must be able to:

· Make a realistic evaluation of the deficiencies and problem areas in a given situation

· Appreciate the longer term implications of not adopting new strategies for change and growth

· Demonstrate a strong desire to change the status quo and remedy the identified problems

· Be empathetic to the needs of their organisation’s workforce and show a real appreciation of people and their value

· Formulate a vision that will lead to a future that is highly desirable for the organisation and the people who work within it

· Communicate this vision in a motivational and inspiring manner that evokes strong positive feelings within others

· Regularly repeat the vision from different perceptual positions and with flexibility to appeal and ‘touch’ the full spectrum of that workforce

· Inspire commitment and hard work from the people who work within the organisation towards an aligned vision

· Act as a Role Model at all times, and gain the confidence and respect of the workforce for both for the leader and the mission.

· Demonstrate high levels of energy and self-confidence and exhibit high expectations in terms of their workforce capability and results the organisation can achieve

· Possess credibility as an expert in their field and demonstrate an unconventional and innovative style.

· Be willing to run certain personal risks, as and when the mission requires

Charismatic leaders understand the important effects that they personally have on people and continually strengthen this powerful relationship by:

Increasing the inner rewards for their workforce so that people feel satisfied and valued. Examples of inner rewards include building self-esteem / self-expression / stability / sense of belonging / provision of hope
Providing an increased sensation of empowerment and self-esteem within the workforce, by expressing high expectations and high confidence in their people both as individuals and as teams or departments of people
Increasing the value and benefits that people with achieve when the organisation has achieved its goal. This in turn increases the significance of the goal from the individual’s perspective
Increasing the degree of commitment of the workforce and ensure that individuals within the group are aware of their unique and vital contribution

These behaviours help to create an instinctive, sometimes unconscious impression that the leader is connected to universal ‘transcendental’ powers. This strengthens the relationship between the workforce and leader whilst fuelling the Charismatic presence of that leader.

GCSchmidt said...

I don't disagree with anything you state here. My contention in this post is to highlight just how pathetic The Larva is as a leader and that We are in for another four leader-less years, similar to what We went through with The Jellyfish. If only We could make leaders as We make studies about them...