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longgone's avatar

In your opinion, which skills are essential for our presidents/prime ministers/etc.?

Asked by longgone (12786points) March 12th, 2014

In this question , Obama’s public speaking is being discussed. It got me thinking…are speeches really what we’re looking for in a leader?

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21 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Nah, I prefer strong principles, ethics, honesty, and a commitment to our kids future, and the balls to stick to those things. Not skills obviously, but it’s what I believe in. Boy, am I a fucking dreamer?

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

A person who practices what he preaches. A person who has experience with running a company, a business, an organization and actually had to meet a payroll.

A person who is honest and will do what is right for the people, not what is good for their particular Party.

A decent family man with a moral compass. A nice speech means nothing to me. Anyone can hire speech writers and read from their notes.

also a person who gives you eye contact.

talljasperman's avatar

Looking good on camera.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@longgone “are speeches really what we’re looking for in a leader?”

Yes. Not entirely, but yes, it’s an important quality to have. Well charisma is (and generally being a good speaker comes with being charismatic). One cannot be a leader if one cannot get others to follow him, and charisma is a necessary trait for that.

GloPro's avatar

A good poker face

ETpro's avatar

I have to agree with @Darth_Algar A chief executive of a nation must be able to inspire others to follow her. And past that, it’s really, really important she have a vision of where to lead those who do follow.

Mao Zedong was an inspirational leader who got a huge nation to follow him. But he led China into tearing down its limited supply of steel mills and setting up backyard steel furnaces. His leadership took his nation in a disastrous direction. He was responsible for the death of at least 50 million of his own people. So to me the most vital part of leadership is the leader’s ability to foresee the impact of their actions in the near and far term.

Cruiser's avatar

A good back swing

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Or a straight tee shot.

Cruiser's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe or a great jump shot

Kropotkin's avatar

I think an essential trait is an overwhelming suicidal tendency. Actually, couple that with incredible charisma. Basically the ideal scenario I’m trying to convey to you all, is that the President would be able to convince the whole of Congress and the Senate—actually, throw in the entire political class from which they come from—to kill themselves in a giant mass suicide pact..

TheRealOldHippie's avatar

These days, an essential skill is the ability to talk in soundbites so you can get on the television news. For those who don’t know – it’s the ability to say something that is quotable within no more than 60 seconds (30 seconds is ideal) so the news writers and editors can lift it and use it in a newscast. A good soundbite is one where they pause before they make that “important” statement and then pause afterward…...the pause lasting less than a heartbeat, but being there so they can edit it out of your remarks. As much as I hate to say anything good about Obama – he was a master of the soundbite although now that he’s become our Emperor, he’s kind of lost the skill. (Yes, I am anti-Obama – cannot stand the opportunistic s-o-b…...and I’m a life long Democrat, thus proving that not all of us bought into his cute slogans.)

pleiades's avatar

Well imo, the President can stand for what everyone wants in a President but the truth is they’re practically puppets on a string… Ok talking puppets that have some sort of command…

ucme's avatar

Fake a laugh

Darth_Algar's avatar


The fact that you use the term “emperor” indicates to me that you really don’t pay much attention and instead buy into petty talking points. Obama is no more and no less of an “emperor” or “dictator” than any other president (especially of the past century) has been.

thorninmud's avatar

The ability to project confidence. The President/PM has to appear as if they know exactly how to proceed even in—no, especially in—uncertain situations. But that’s just the public face; coupled with this must be an inward recognition of uncertainty (that’s just plain humility) and a tolerance for ambiguity (that’s just plain wisdom).

A knack for choosing a good entourage. This is extremely important. The President/PM can’t be an expert on all the complexities of the job; instead they have to know how to surround themselves with trustworthy council, including some who differ from them ideologically.

The ability to inspire. This can be by virtue of personal history, character, or eloquence.

A good grasp of psychology. This doesn’t have to be formal training, but a President/PM has to have keen insight into their own strengths, weaknesses, demons, drives, tendencies, neuroses, etc.; and they must also be good at discerning these in others.

TheRealOldHippie's avatar

Darth Algar – Obama is a con artist and typical Chicago politician who conned the American people into electing him twice because he spoke in the soundbites I mentioned and that was what people heard. They never really listened to what he was saying. He sold the gullible American people a bill of goods and they bought it. Thanks to him, this country is more divided right now than it has been any time since the 1960’s – long before you were even born – and is on the brink of disaster and will be years in recovering. Let’s hope the American people see beyond the soundbites in 2016 and have the intelligence to elect someone who will help bring this country back to where it was.

Darth_Algar's avatar


Thank you for confirming my suspicion.

Kropotkin's avatar

@TheRealOldHippie You seem to understand the media dynamics involved and how politicians are more or less forced to use soundbites to communicate effectively—so it’s nothing unique to Obama. I think Obama does this very well. He’s basically a good actor.

I think the focus on the moral failings of Obama, or any other individual, ends up diminishing the relevance of systemic problems of representative democracy/parliamentarianism:

It attracts psychopaths/sociopaths and narcissists (I think Obama is likely one or both) who seek power and status for its own sake.

The system is extremely corruptible by money (vast sums of cash has become a prerequisite for campaigning to attract voters/discredit opposition candidates, and so “democracy” is essentially a system which represents other narcissistic and psychopathic elites who are able to buy favours from the government). Politicians now spend more time doing fund raising and chasing donations than almost anything else. Lobbying itself has become extremely lucrative, where a modest bribe may have 1000% or more returns on the “investment”.

Meanwhile ordinary people are sold the narrative that the politicians are working in their interests, and that the policy aims of lobbyists and the interests of private capital—which has bought control of the government—is also good for everyone.

I don’t think this has much if anything to do with Obama himself, whose role I think is more ceremonial than anything, and he largely does what his vast supporting staff and entourage of various policy advisors suggest he does.

talljasperman's avatar

How to be prudent without being a prude.

longgone's avatar

I didn’t mean to abandon this question – thanks for your answers, everyone!

@Adirondackwannabe I agree. The world needs dreamers! :]
@talljasperman Ha – wouldn’t that be nice.
@Darth_Algar I agree that being able to get others to follow is useful. I’m just not sure “strong” leaders are necessarily the best leaders. Someone happy to work in the background, making decisions which benefit his people without being concerned about his performance, might be just as well suited. I completely agree with @ETpro there.
@thorninmud GA. Nothing to add.
@ucme Yep. I think that’s called “diplomacy” :D
@BeenThereSaidThat “A nice speech means nothing to me. Anyone can hire speech writers and read from their notes.” Exactly. Though, to be fair, I admire anyone who excels at public speaking. I just don’t think it’s a very important part of being a leader.
@GloPro Oh, definitely!

Darth_Algar's avatar

@longgone “I agree that being able to get others to follow is useful. I’m just not sure “strong” leaders are necessarily the best leaders. Someone happy to work in the background, making decisions which benefit his people without being concerned about his performance, might be just as well suited.”

But someone working in the background is not a leader. A leader is, by their very nature, someone who leads people. You can’t lead people if you can’t get them to follow you.

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