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Presidential Candidates 2016: Lessons on Leadership

Though the elections are still a year off, presidential campaigns are well underway. With the race still populated by so many candidates we wanted to take a moment to consider what lessons on leadership we can glean from the road to the white house. As you seek to select leaders that are the best and the best for your organization, here are some principles to bear in mind.

  1. Convictions matter. Voters are seeking authenticity. Candidates who have exhibited fidelity to a higher ideal, such as Ben Carson and Bernie Sanders, have fared well and engendered trust and support from voters. Conversely, waffling on your positions can be costly, as Hillary Clinton has found. No one likes to feel manipulated; when we see a leader being true to themselves, they are being true to us.

  2. Outsiders have insight. This presidential campaign is already being dubbed the year of the outsider as each candidate asserts that they are not part of the political establishment. There is value to someone who is conversant and qualified, but still brings a fresh perspective. They can refine and reform without being stuck in the ruts that familiarity bring.

  3. Calm communicates competency. There have already been numerous debates and candidates have seen their numbers in the polls soar or plummet based on their performance. When situations get hard and stressful, we often don’t know what to do and turn to our leaders. If our leader seems unable to handle the pressure, our trust falters. Jeb Bush has been particularly hampered by his perceived shortcomings in the debates.

  4. Leaders listen. A good leader is not seeking to implement their own agenda. A good leader seeks to find effective solutions for those they are leading and the problems at hand. Bernie Sanders has gained significant traction by being an advocate for the little guy and gathering grass roots support. Do your leaders take time to listen to those below them, even (especially!) from the rank and file?

What observations on leadership have you made as you’ve watched the presidential campaigns? Join us on social media to discuss.