BY Russell Wardrop

DATE: 04 JUL 2019


KWC's top five traits you need to be an effective leader

What do US soccer captain Megan Rapinoe and Donald Trump have in common, apart from interesting hair? Visibility, that’s what: the first of five essential traits you need to be an effective leader. Rapinoe’s power pose and smug expression was loved and loathed in equal measure, as was The Donald’s audacious stroll into North Korea for a handshake with another weirdly coiffed leader. You can crave the limelight too much, to be sure, but too often we are told we are too big for our boots rather than you go girl!

Trait two is brevity, “The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here…” said Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, though he knew otherwise. An early press release, the carefully crafted remarks, delivered in three minutes, are among the most important ever uttered by a leader and are remembered still. It is possible to say a lot in a short time, such an important skill today when you have less than no time to cut through. Edward Everett spoke for two hours at Gettysburg but it is Lincoln’s words we remember, in fact I will buy you a pint if you can tell me anything about him from memory!

Prospective Democratic nominee Elizabeth Warren is too far to the left for many American’s palate, the last time I saw her she was at the Mexican border passionately embracing and pitching for a more liberal immigration policy: she has passion (three) and authenticity (four). Of the two I’m going for authenticity, which means she has the courage of her convictions. Like all politicians, though, she has to triangulate and did so in the recent hustings debate taking a more nuanced position on gun control than her base would have liked. Warren has the ability to seem authentic when pitching a less-than-palatable truth, something Prime Minister May was hopeless at.

It is said that the hilarious roasting of Trump by Obama at the 2011 Washington Press Association Dinner inspired The Donald to run for President. Barack Obama has great comic timing. We have no idea how much of the material he creates but he has the orator’s ability to have the audience wait for him, to feel when they need something that soars, when to ramp up the volume and when, as is essential with humour, to stay quiet and let the audience do their thing.

Ronald Reagan’s eulogy after the Challenger disaster can wring out a tear and is one of the finest examples of connecting emotionally with the listener. Peggy Noonan wrote the words with the Great Communicator so it’s a joint effort, hitting the right note when the whole of America needs to mourn and be redeemed in five minutes. If you are going to pitch well as a Leader then making the emotional connection is the fifth trait you need.

So now you are sorted, go out and practise. That’s a sixth, by the way.



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