The makings of a great international leader

By Giles Hirst

I was recently asked what makes a great leader. I would love to say there was a simple formula required but, in truth, it is much more complex than that.

Take, for example, the race to become the next US President. Does it require great leadership to win an election?

Or does great leadership become apparent only when one wins an election?

What is apparent in the election cycle is that tactics and media savvy politicians trump this part of the race (no pun intended).

This is particularly interesting when we note that what works for leaders of one party doesn't necessarily cut it for another.

In the US, researchers Doug J Chung and Lingling Zhang found advertising and retail campaigning work more favourably towards Republican candidates.

Democratic candidates needed on-the-ground operations involving more grassroots methods, including residents' door-knocking.

Even to win an election, a different set of tactics are required by each of the parties.

This requires different forms of leadership skills.

It's only when we see the President after an election that their leadership prowess - or lack of - comes into effect.

Even in the first hour of a presidential inauguration speech, we can see some very significant markers about the President's leadership traits.

A classic piece of research by Robert House found the more the US President's speech appeals to values of hope and integrity, the more successfully the economy would perform over the President's term in office.

These effects were even greater for the likelihood of the US engaging in military conflict.

One does not need an inspirational President to start a war but getting out of a war requires one.