What can we learn from political leaders

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Politics is generally a topic of debate which stirs up strong emotions. Key to striking a chord with one’s audience is linked to exactly that: connecting with their emotions. This is something that all leaders need to master, and which political leaders especially have a real knack for.

Although we may not agree with what all political parties and their leaders stand for or the manner in which they show up, we can learn something from all of them.

Displaying passion: Consider American president Donald Trump, who has succeeded by speaking directly to the heart of what his voting public wanted to hear. He listens to the needs of his followers and acts on those, speaking with great passion. Likewise, business leaders need to connect to the needs of their team members and speak with passion to gain their buy-in and support.

Remaining steadfast: British Prime Minister Theresa May remains steadfast in her decision regarding Brexit, showing true belief in what she is doing. She has shown that while you need to adapt when appropriate, it is important to not “sway in the wind”. She believes that she is there to protect the greater good of the country and is willing to stand up for it, giving her people the opportunity to make themselves heard. Strength like hers is of utmost importance for business leaders – you cannot drive one message today and something completely different tomorrow.

Creating an identity: The Economic Freedom Fighters’ Julius Malema identified a gap in the market and solidified the party in that market. He manages to grab the spotlight wherever he goes, using his presence to carry his messages and largely speaking his followers’ language – literally and figuratively. Much like Malema does, it is important for business leaders to talk about what may be wrong in business, deal with it head-on and not hide it. Be courageous and deal with issues that affect your stakeholders. Malema has also created a community and identity for his followers (think of the red overalls and berets). Imagine the possibilities if business leaders created such a sense of belonging with their team members, thereby gaining true brand ambassadors.

Establishing purpose: Take a minority party such as Freedom Front Plus that looks after a “niched” community trying to fight for a piece of the pie. They have to punch above their weight when it comes to representing their electorate on the national stage. This teaches the importance of sticking to what you believe in – your purpose. They are fighting not to lose their voice and to sustain their existence. Business leaders also need to be tenacious in their beliefs in order to establish themselves and keep afloat.

Fostering alignment: Madiba taught the nation and the world so much. He not only had the capacity for introspection and the ability to adapt, he also established alignment through clarity and honesty. Business leaders need to be clear on their purpose so that team members know what is expected from them. Using Aristotle’s logos (logic), ethos (speaking with enthusiasm and passion) and pathos (enrolling the listener with what is relevant to them or in it for them) when communicating improves connection with your audience. By aligning as a team, actions are made intentional and purposeful. Honesty in all dealings will ensure you deliver to your stakeholders with consistency.

A key thing for all leaders – business or political – to understand, is that leaders lead all the time – whether doing so well or poorly! Others take their lead from you, so make sure that you are leading with purpose and integrity.

*Brian Eagar is the founder and CEO of TowerStone, a leadership centre that empowers leaders to build a values-driven culture for sustainable success. Visit: http://www.towerstone-global.com/ 




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Issue 410


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