Thursday, November 6, 2008


The election just ended reinforced my belief that the most important characteristic of a leader is confidence. Even a would-be leader who is equipped with the intellect and experience to lead people through a challenge will not attract as many followers as a would-be leader who exudes a superior imperturbable confidence.

Most people, whether soldiers or voters, are unsure of themselves. In a difficult or dangerous situation they hope that somebody is better able than they are to guide them to a successful outcome. When pressure is on, emotions make the uneasy herd more likely to flock after a supremely confident leader than after a person who makes good arguments but doesn't appear as sure of himself.

Ironically, it doesn't matter whether the confidence of the strongest leader is based on superior ability or not, as long as the crowd believes that it is. 'He wouldn't be so confident if he didn't know what he's doing.' On the other hand, the confidence that brings power to a leader must be completely convincing in every way.

Words alone won't do the trick. In the recent election one candidate constantly repeated, “I can do this! I'm prepared! I know how to do this!”, but beyond the words a large number of voters intuitively felt that the man lacked complete, unshakable confidence. Tone of voice, tempo, body language, along with a kind of instability when making decisions under pressure were at least as important as words in communicating true confidence or lack thereof. From that candidate, the herd sniffed uncertainty and nervousness.

The other candidate conveyed confidence with an impressively steady demeanor under pressure, with certainty, and with a sense that his daily decision-making was thoughtful and firmly controlled. He didn't boast as much about his leadership ability as the other candidate did, but his carriage, his voice, the calm and measured movement of his body, aroused in those looking for a leader to trust a sense of steadiness, sureness, and unshakable confidence that they concluded must rest on a solid foundation.

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