By Timothy R. Clark, TRClark (an Advantage Thought Leader)
Presidential candidate Ron Paul is a fascinating study in leadership. In debates, he is angular, fumbling, scattered and interpersonally clumsy. And yet despite his unpolished platform skills, he speaks directly to voter need out of deep and genuine commitment. In many ways, he passes the real test of leadership — to build trust. Even if you’re not a libertarian, and even if you don’t subscribe to some of his extreme positions, you sense that he is guided by a genuine sense of stewardship. He is courageous. Paul helps us understand that leadership presence, which he does not possess in great abundance, is not the same thing as leadership credibility.
If you watch too many presidential debates, you might get the impression from the other candidates that leadership is mostly about the ability to communicate compelling policy arguments, along with the care and feeding of your personal brand. That’s only part of it.
The concept of leadership presence, as people call it, can be confusing. It refers to one’s ability to command attention when you walk into a room. It has a lot to do with charisma, and so for things like presidential debates, it matters. But with the possible exception of running for president, this thing we call leadership presence is grossly overrated.