It was said about one of the presidential candidates who has suspended their campaign, that “the problem, many donors say they believe, is that there wasn’t anyone on the team who both recognized his shortcomings and was willing to point them out to the principal himself.”
The world has changed greatly in the past 10 years, 100 years, and in the past 1000 years But one thing that has not changed is the concept of the “emperor’s new clothes”. The whole premise of the Hans Christian Anderson parable is that there wasn’t anyone willing to tell the emperor the truth until finally the whole town cried out, “But he hasn’t got anything on!”
We don’t like to hear negative feedback. There is only one thing worse than hearing something negative. That is not hearing negative feedback. When you start working out, working out is a pain. Eventually the only thing worse than working out is not working out.
Recently I observed two first time candidates for the U.S. Senate. A decade apart they are both new to the process. One was a little newer than the other yet both new. Their styles could not have been more different although they shared the common goal: to get elected.
Candidate #1 had an anecdotal style. She used her background as an activist as her resume. Her qualifications were her real life stories and real life experiences.
Candidate #2 had a strong legislative style. He knew facts and figures, policies and particulars. He gave us no real life stories or experiences.
If my crystal ball worked and I could see the future, this is what I think I would see: Candidate #1 will have added policy ideas to her anecdotal and activist resume. Candidate #2 will have added some humanness to his policy wonk style. Someone has to be the honest mirror before the voters become the honest mirror.
The lessons we could all learn are three-fold:
- We need to be both human and rational, results driven at times and warm and fuzzy at other times.
- We need to know when to be one and when to be the other. Look at any candidate running today. They have to be both. The trick is when to be results driven and when to stop and literally and figuratively give your audience a hug. (Just ask Kasich)
- Campaign donors or your own staffs do not necessarily constitute an honest mirror. We all can benefit from honest feedback. There really is no such thing as positive feedback and negative feedback. All feedback is gold.
After 9/11 then NYC Mayor Giuliani had a very different style from then U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton. Giuliani went or said he went to every policeman and fireman’s funeral. Hillary Clinton went to none or few. Giuliani said he felt obligated to honor every fallen hero by attending their funeral. He also called out Senator Clinton for not attending the funerals. She explained it this way. She said she could best honor the fallen heroes by working as senator on policies and compensation for their families.
These two public officials represented two very different responses to the national crises of 9/11. Giuliani understood the value of his presence at each funeral.
Hillary responded as the policy wonk that she is. She left the eulogizing and comforting to others. She rolled up her sleeves to do the hard work of making policy.
There is a famous quote about John Steinbeck that he, “tried so hard to not be a stuffed shirt that he appeared to wear no shirt at all.” It is a challenge to be likable, but not seen as just one of the guys, warm but still smart, likable but still a leader.
Leslie is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire. Read more posts by Leslie Ungar here.
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