By: Hsin-Yi Cohen
The world is full of aspiring political leaders but sadly, very few live up to the leadership ideals. In fact, many political leaders seem to severely lack some of the most important leadership qualities, such as integrity and accountability. It is no coincidence that for many people, the word “politician” has such negative connotations! However, history – and present day – shows us that there are still a few who come close to the leadership ideals and who are good examples of an effective political leader.
Leadership In A Political Framework
Political leaders are vitally important – through the authority of government, they assess the distribution of power and resources, build relationships with other stakeholders and make decisions that can have great impact on the well-being of a nation and its people.
Leadership in the political framework requires a focus on the long-term good of a country, above and ahead of any personal short-term gains. Good political leadership requires a combination of charisma and integrity, as well as the ability to assess a situation and make a decision based on what would be best for the greatest number of people. Most of all, leadership in a political framework requires ‘statesmanship’ – as opposed to just being a ‘politician’ – this means having the integrity and willingness to stand up for what is right, even if it means resigning a position in government or losing an election.
What Makes A Good Political Leader?
Ironically, those who make good political leaders are often those who least want the position in the first place! These are individuals who do not seek power but who have authority conferred upon them by others who value their judgement.
So what makes a good political leader? A good political leader is:
- someone who serves as an example of integrity and loyalty to the people they represent, both to the public and to other political leaders .
- someone with good communication and inter-personal skills, who can work with a range of other people, regardless of political party or opinion, to achieve the greatest good for the general population.
- someone who can resist the various temptations and lures of the political arena
- someone of strong character, with both conscience and charisma
- someone willing to listen to the needs of the common people and to represent them faithfully
- someone with the courage to stand up and say what needs to be said – rather than just tell the general public what it wants to hear
- someone who is willing to make difficult (and possibly unpopular) decisions for the greater good.
An effective political leader will have a leadership style that focuses on coalition and building, while an ineffective leadership situation results from a leader who is a “hustler” – i.e.. who uses manipulation to get what they want, instead of inspiration and motivation. While negotiation and even coercion are sometimes necessary, a good political leader will always try to use persuasion first.
One of the key leadership qualities many political leaders lack is ability to take responsibility. A lot of political leaders are very adept at pointing the finger at everyone else and few seem able to accept responsibility for their mistakes, admit their political failures and acknowledge their own contribution to a problem.
Accountability is crucial to effective political leadership, as without this, there will be no respect from the followers. A good political leader is someone who will be honest and responsible for their own actions and decisions and who is willing to admit when they have made a mistake. They will focus their energies and time on representing the people rather than spending all the time “covering their backs” and criticising others.