Leaders of the heart

Like most people that I know, I am not a political aficionado, nor do I hold much regard for the profession (yeah, who does?). But in the first week of September, I was glued to the television watching three political speeches by two men and a woman who came across as top-notch executives, dead serious about running the business of a nation called the United States than mere politicians pitching for votes to stay in power for another term.

By Asha Iyer Kumar (FIRST PERSON)

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Published: Tue 25 Sep 2012, 10:08 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 3:46 PM

Having no private stake in the great American dream, I had least interest in the statistics that were laid out in their speeches, nor could I vouch for its veracity. Yet, I sat riveted, catching nuances of oratory and trying to understand if anyone who could speak a language well could pull off such sterling performances. Perhaps not, the text and tele-prompters notwithstanding.

Of course, the purpose being political, direct and indirect salvos were fired by the men at their Republican rivals, but it had none of the high strung, soprano effect that I am so used to hearing in India. There was no use of lung power that made their spiels sound like hoarse battle cries; nor was there any tinge of incivility in their tone. Mingling policy with personal references, they created a political symphony that wafted out and touched the animated thousands gathered in front of them and many others dispersed across the globe.

As an old time fan of Bill Clinton’s inimitable oratory skills, and having taken a liking for Obama’s eloquence since the historic acceptance speech four years ago, I relished the veritable flavour of their speeches at Charlotte. Given the nature of the profession they are in, not all that they utter may be scratchless truths, but even the rhetoric they speak has a rare quality. Their promises to the people have the power to convince, and amazingly, even when they take a potshot at their rivals, they don’t sound like hot-headed rabble-rousers.

Notably, such leaders succeed in persuading a nation to trust them to do the job they have under taken for the sake of the people, than for their own. They come up trumps as political captains possessing great managerial qualities, leaders who make ‘shared responsibility’ and ‘being together’ indispensible virtues in the task of nation building. And what gets them the votes is the hope they kindle in their people, and the kindred spirit they evoke among them.

Applied within an organisation, these very aspects can help a corporate head establish an enviable rapport with his workers. In a domestic set up, this is what keeps the family intact and in good faith. Every team needs a leader who strikes a chord with his people and promises that even the worst scenario would pass and that there is hope for us if only we take the strides together.

Every citizen, every employee and every family member is prudent enough to know that not everything the boss says is going to be true, for things and people can fail. But if his tone vibrates with earnestness and his intent is selfless, even his half promises can comfort them. It can propel them to stretch their limits towards achieving their common goal. And when there is a concerted effort from every single quarter, when there is faith reposed in the leader who reaches out and makes them feel important in the scheme of things, conditions begin to improve and prospects get better.

Whether in running the affairs of a nation, or an organisation, or a family, it is important for powers that be to instil hope and restore confidence in their subjects, especially during hard times like now. It is this that Obama, as the CEO of the nation, along with the former president, the first lady and their team sought to achieve at the Democratic National Convention, and boy, what a neat job they did!

Asha Iyer Kumar in a freelance journalist based in Dubai

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