PotUS: Qualities of Leadership

Article Two of the Constitution sets the principal qualifications to be eligible for election as President. A Presidential candidate must:

* be a natural-born citizen of the United States;
* be at least thirty-five years old;
* have been a permanent resident in the United States for at least fourteen years.

Obviously no one believes these are sufficient qualifications, certainly I do not. I want to use this post as reference for future posts regarding how I rate fitness of candidates for PotUS.

First and foremost the president of the US has to be able to respond to yet known threats to the US. Any candidate can propose solutions to current problems. But many of our nation's threat aren't known and may not yet even be an idea in our enemy's head. What I believe will be the best criteria to determine whether someone can meet that unseen challenge is leadership. By leadership I mean a combination of good judgment, firm resolve, and persuasiveness. These three aspects allow the person to decide on the best course of action, to carry through the action and persuade others to the cause. How best to determine whether anyone has these ability to be an effective leader? Lets look at each of the three one by one.

Good Judgment. Having good judgment requires intelligence, insight and wisdom. Intelligence is easy to recognize but intelligence is not enough and is not as important as some might suggest. Many think that being smart is enough. It is not. Solutions have to be actionable, not just sound right. I have noticed a tendency for the super smarts to become even more abstract and removed from real world actions. It is the trap of favoring the ideals over the practical. Insight is more important than intelligence because it allows the dismissal of noise while appreciating the true significance of the situation. I believe insight is something you are born with, though it certainly can be honed with intelligence and knowledge. Once the truth of the situation is perceived, wisdom will allow for appreciation of what will likely work in practice, and the consequences of the action.

The easiest way to evaluate whether anyone has good judgment is whether a leader has demonstrated good judgment previously. But the challenges a leader will be facing will likely be different from any challenges he/she has faced. I believe this is true even for incumbents. One might be tempted to use experience as a surrogate for good judgment. But having experience does not mean a leader will have good judgment. Having experience allows a person to build upon his/her judgment for better and for worse. For an executive position of the PotUS, executive experience is beneficial. An executive decision differs from a legislative decision because ultimate responsibility and ownership for the decision lies with an executive rather than one of many votes among legislatures.

Firm Resolve. No course of actions will be endorsed unanimously and in the miracle should unanimity is obtained, it will certainly not lasts. Thus any leader must first have confidence of conviction to accept criticism as a difference of opinion rather as an attack of character or ability, even if the criticism are vitriolic and indeed are attack of character and ability. In all likelihood a leader must also have faith of conviction no worthy challenges will be overcome easily. There will likely be dark days and bleak moments when all appear lost, and many will desert the cause and endeavors. Erstwhile allies will reveal themselves as fair weather friends at best, allies of convenience at most. And should failure does perchance occur, a leader must have the grace of responsibility to acknowledge mistakes and ultimate responsibility. Both confidence of conviction and faith of conviction are predicated on the ideals of the solution or course of action rather than the personality of the leader him/herself. Otherwise, a leader will certainly have problems with acknowledging mistakes and error and taking responsibility for failure.

Persuasiveness. Never will a leader be able to address any challenges or achieve any accomplishment without the aides of others. This is especially true in a democracy. While charisma might seem imperative in this regard, I do not believe it essential. I am concern that by the time a candidate comes to position to run for PotUS, he/she would have come to be aware of his/her own charisma. And given the egotistical nature of most would-be-leader, it would be too easy to rely on charisma rather than building the essential of having good judgment. In addition, charisma feeds the ego in such a way as to detract from true resolve.

More important are having the common perspective, be an effective communicator, and being able to inspire. In a democracy any leader acts for his/her constituents. Thus it is essential to be able to intimately understand the hopes and concerns of the average citizen regarding any challenges. This requires having a common perspective. Only then can a leader be able to effectively communicate the significance of any challenge, how failure to address the challenge would affect each person, and what will be required to succeed against the challenge. Even so the audience will still weight the cost of failure vs. the cost of action. The people can and need to be rallied to act. While fear of failure can certainly be a motivator, fear is only effective when immediate danger is nigh. By then, the cost of action would be even greater. But if the danger is far, then action can only be raised when a leader can inspire action. Note I do believe that there is a difference between a leader being inspirational and being able to inspire. To me, being inspirational suggests either an innate characteristic or a quality ascribed to the person by followers. Being able to inspire to me suggests an ability with words and or action that can motivate both followers and bystanders alike. It is the bystander more so than the followers that are in most need of motivation and inspiration toward action.

These are thus the factors I consider essential for anyone asking to be my leader.
Good judgment with intelligence, insight and wisdom.
Firm resolve with confidence and faith of conviction, along with grace of responsibility.
Persuasiveness with the common perspective, effective communication, and being able to inspire.

I set this post up in order to allow me a “from the ground up” process of evaluating current and future candidates for PotUS. I will next post about global issues I expect to challenge the President and their priority.

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