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  • BLOG - Election 2014 shows the Impact of a Leader's Personality

    23 September at 07:37 from atlas

    The contrasting styles of our political leaders could not have been more evident than through the recent Election 2014 campaign.  There was John Key facing several bombs from left field, yet he shouldered them all, and triumphed with his party's victorious performance on the party vote and winning 61 seats by the end of Election night.  For me, this confirmed that John Key has a personality which is able to respond to other people when he's under pressure and still be influential on those around him and the people to whom he was appealing for votes.

    The impact of a leader's personality on their teams, voters, and the outcome was visible in the election night speeches by the leaders.  There was David Cunliffe, who needed to show some repentance for his party's historic low performance, yet he chose to praise his party president and members for their hard work and effort.  For me, this confirmed that David Cunliffe has a personality where he was not able to honestly confront the situation's reality and communicate to New Zealanders who really needed to hear that he understood the message that voters had given to Labour.

    John Key may become, or may already be regarded as, the most popular and successful NZ Prime Minister of modern times. Given this, it is hard to believe that he comes from a financial markets trading background.  He is engaging and has a personality which enables him to chat with everyone about anything.  The John Key who New Zealanders saw on the campaign trail everyday is engaging, sincere, and able to present complex ideas in a natural, straight-forward, and conversational style.  This is one clear personality strength which enables him to be influential across New Zealand society.

    It is said that highly effective leaders have twice as much EQ as IQ and skill levels.  Whilst it's apparent that John Key has a high IQ (Intelligence Quotient), what's equally evident is that he also has a high EQ (Emotional Quotient).  Unfortunately though, David Cunliffe mostly displays his IQ, therefore is not perceived as being able to connect with people from all walks of life.  Although his IQ wasn't sufficient for handling simple questions on details of his party's flagship capital gains tax policy and this made him seem uninformed.   Indeed, at times in the recent campaign, his preaching style of communication was evident and while this style might appeal to voters in the southern states of North America, it doesn't resonate well in a New Zealand election campaign.

    So, both leaders' personalities speak for them and this is what we really get a chance to experience, to engage with, and ultimately decide upon, during a six week election campaign.  It is clear to me that John Key's personality enabled him to not only cope well, but to excel, in what can only be described as an unprecedented particularly ugly campaign by New Zealand's standards.  Whereas, David Cunliffe's personality made it difficult for him to connect with enough New Zealanders to influence their voting choice.  The question now for the Labour party is: "Do they have anyone else who has a high IQ and is also able to demonstrate a high EQ to reconnect Labour with New Zealanders?"  Hopefully for Labour, they can come up with an answer to this challenge before another three years goes by.