Monday, September 22, 2008

Anger vs. Calm Leadership

There are many different styles of leadership, yet I notice most leaders fall into one of two categories. The angry, reactive leader or the cool, responsive leader. The responsive leader stays cool under pressure and the reactive leader gets hot and angry. The calm leader tends to usually be respectful and kind. The angry leader tends to attack.

It appears to me that the angry leader tends to have more fear than they do confidence, while the calm leader is usually quietly confident and is not interested in a showy bravado. The key ingredient I notice in the hot and angry leader is fear. When a leader (or anyone for that matter) reacts with anger, something that he/she is afraid of losing has been violated.
They may see their reputation being at stake or possibly their future. When the naturally angry leader gets hooked, then the likely result will be attack. Although the angry leader may not have malicious intent, the fear of "losing" is so great that their power is used to put down, minimize or insult their opponent. It is a sophisticated form of bullying.

When the calm leader is attacked, you are likely to see a respectful response without a similar "fight back" type of style. The calm leader knows that he or she need not be a victim when attacked. Keeping cool and speaking of the facts, without showing the same type of "back atchya" behavior is more in line with strong and confident leadership.

In following our current presidential race, this contrast of attack vs. calm is clearly evident in our two candidates. I read an article in Time magazine that questioned Obama's calm response to the attacks from Senator McCain in that it may give the public a sense that he is not strong. I'm sure Senator Obama's calmer, gentler way is criticized even by others in the Democratic party based on the behavior of many past candidates.

What we generally see in commercials are blatant and personal attacks that volley back and forth. Perhaps that type of race is more interesting to the general population than one without battles of egos.

When I think of leaders that I have admired, such as Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, their power did not come from how ruthless they were or in their blatant show of anger, but in how calm and strong they stayed even in the face of attack. The leaders in this category responded with an intention to create peace. To me, this stance is not one of weakness, but of strength and true courage. Isn't it interesting that all of these courageous leaders apparently created fear for others that ended their lives premarturely? I can only guess that their true power to create positive change was the impetus for their assasinations.

I encourage all voters to consider what type of candidate they would like to have represent our country. Paying close attention to not only opinions on the issues at stake right now, but also the style of addressing them.

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