In light of one of the most influential athletes of all time, Muhammad Ali, being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2016, my recent ‘Meet The Leader’ article entitled ‘What Makes A Leadership Candidate Stand Out?’, has been a frequent topic of conversation.
Of course, it is not just about style, but rather the body language and self-esteem of the individual which is essential in assessing their leadership potential.
Welsh entrepreneur Sir Tom Jones demonstrated his great confidence by jokingly declaring that he would be the UK’s first Muslim prime minister, as well as being appointed an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II.
He also described his range of confidence issues as a man who wears his heart on his sleeve, a ‘water carrier’ for which he will always be ‘loyal’, and his lack of social awareness, which meant he would often fall out with friends for their different political viewpoints.
The areas highlighted in my articles both have nothing to do with his musical talent, which I know for a fact, but his undeniable talent and charisma.
Being in the entertainment industry for the best part of 20 years, I have observed and spoken to thousands of people at all levels of their careers and I’m absolutely convinced that one of the most important skills an aspiring leader can have is a huge amount of confidence in themselves, their skills, their talents, and their abilities.
Growing up I watched many a childhood idol fall flat on their face because of an overblown sense of insecurity
John Wayne. Arnold Schwarzenegger. And Muhammad Ali.
My God! Could it be that the very thing we loved about these stars was what eventually led to their demise?
What was their Achilles heel? Being nice.
Behaving like a nice guy. And certainly, these guys had plenty of skill and talent in their arsenal.
But they were not the best when it came to striking up a relationship with a prospective buyer.
Let’s talk about you for a minute, Mr/Ms ‘Nice Guy’. Do you know that really loud and obnoxious guy in the cubicle next to you?
The one who always walks around singing out of tune, sending emails to everyone in the company, and never taking responsibility for their mistakes?
Why do you think that is?
You may have noticed that you are the opposite of that person.
You would never dream of sending a company an email telling them that you did not know why their website was down and why their confidential data was exposed.
You would also never make the first move by standing next to them to tell them to improve their technique at making a cup of coffee.
You are content to just sit back and drink the fantastic, freshly brewed, complimentary tea that your lovely colleague has made for you.
And you are grateful that there is someone else on your team who can do this for you.
You are also secretly aware that his latte maker is broken and he probably keeps a spare at his place of work to make the milk when it goes off.
You are happy to call your mate up at 7 am to say hello
But if someone calls you out on something you’ve done, you instantly go quiet.
You become defensive. Or at least, that is how it appears on the outside.
What is going on inside your head?
The answer is that you are scared that you will be seen as less of a ‘nice guy.
You worry that people will find you to be inferior to them. And you most definitely feel inferior to the guy down the corridor.
Let’s look at the new leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.
He had the confidence, class, and charisma to take on an old boys’ club that had dismissed him as a dunderhead and ‘unelectable’.
The biggest thing that he has got wrong is that his main strength in this election campaign has been his lack of confidence and ability to pick up and understand the UK electorate.
Now let’s look at Tony Blair. He could never think that he was not up to scratch. He always carried himself as if he was the best there ever was, a world leader, his very own Messiah.
He felt inferior to Blair and his neocon sidekicks, for they all held the same unrealistic standards of success that he had in his world.
I understand the need for a bit of self-deprecation.
I have my own sense of humor about it. Some of the news agencies publish articles that I write on their website with my own name as the author.
That never fails to make me crack up.
But when you are getting a daily platform from some of the biggest media outlets in the world, they should know that you are on the up and up, that you have talent, that you have the ability to engage an audience.
I just don’t understand why a single, specific character flaw of a personality has been elevated to something so political that it is portrayed as the crux of the problem.
It is not about the validity or strength of one’s arguments. It is about bringing others down so that you can be seen to be above them, with superior wisdom and class.