Observing the presidential campaigns as an expert in emotional intelligence has been highly instructional about what does and doesn’t work in terms of leadership.
One of the main appeals to Barack Obama is that when people interview or speak to him you experience him as hearing, listening, considering and then responding. And for those people who feel they don’t have the time to do that with people in their companies and lives, it takes all of about two seconds to do.
On the other hand when people interview or speak to Hillary Clinton you experience her as hearing and then responding. She is very smart and a quick study, but it is easy to not feel listened to or considered when communicating with her.
Ironically, Bill Clinton had an incredible reputation for hearing and listening so deeply that when you were with him, you felt like the only person he was focused on. I’ve spoken to arch feminists who wanted to dislike him for some of his acting out who say that the experience was utterly disarming and mesmerizing. When Bill Clinton said, “I feel your pain,” you actually felt felt, felt less alone, felt relief and felt hopeful. It was a “contact high” to the nth degree.
Obama has similar qualities. And given the stress of the average American with financial, familial, health and war related woes. Feeling heard, considered and felt by him may explain some of his appeal and the surge he is now experiencing.
I believe that in her heart Hillary has the desire to relieve people’s stress and offer people hope, but unfortunately it doesn’t come through in how she says what she says.
I think the reason for that is that because he knows who he is, Barack is comfortable in his own skin and in building concensus to drive change whereas Hillary doesn’t appear to know who she is and is not comfortable in her own skin. Instead of driving to build concensus “the lady doth protest too much” and seems more about demanding she be taken seriously.