Leadership in the political realm

April 22, 2009

Let’s see what we can learn about leadership with respect to communicating in the public eye. In this paper,
The Qualities of Leadership: Direction, Communication, and Obfuscation by Torun Dewan and David P Myatt (American Political Science Review, 102(3), pp. 351–368, August 2008), the researchers explored the difference between how a leader communicates with clarity versus correctness, and how that affects the masses in the political realm.

What is leadership? What is good leadership? … Answers emerge from our study… These leaders bridge differences of opinion and become coordinating focal points. A leader’s influence increases with her judgement (her sense of direction) and her ability to convey ideas (her clarity of communication). A leader with perfect clarity enjoys greater influence than one with a perfect sense of direction. When followers choose how much attention to pay to leaders, they listen only to the most coherent communicators.

The APSR co-editors adds this summary note, “… A public who cares mainly about unity might thus listen to a leader who states his policy clearly even though it could very well be wrong. A public who cares mainly about the correct policy would rather listen to a less clear but more correct leader.”

What do you think? Does a leader have to choose between communicating clearly and correctly? How can a leader do both consistently?

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Comments:One Response

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Daniel K. Eng
April 22nd, 2009

DJ, the quote is very apt: there have been so many leaders who communicated clearly but without correct policy.

I can think of so many cult leaders, despots, and celebrities who have led many astray because they were clear and charismatic. This concept works in a worldly sense.

But to be a godly leader, one must submit to the word of God. I believe it is possible to be correct and clear–men like Billy Graham and Jonathan Edwards come to mind. It takes more work, but God desires leaders who are faithful to His word and nature.

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