In this month's Imprimis, Paul Johnson outlines six "Keys of Democratic Statesmanship" that have direct relevance to leadership principles and help us in looking at who we choose to elect as our next executive.
The ability to see the world clearly and draw correct conclusions
Mr Johnson identifies the pattern of confusing directives as being the reason that three major wars that didn't turn out well. The Suez War of 1956, Vietnam and the first Iraq war, which led directly to the second invasion
Only a few essential ideas and beliefs
The best kind of democratic leader has just a few—perhaps three or four—central principles to which he is passionately attached and will not sacrifice under any circumstances...I am not impressed by leaders who have definite views on everything. History teaches it is a mistake to have too many convictions, held with equal certitude and tenacity. They crowd each other out. A great leader is someone who can distinguish between the essential and the peripheral—between what must be done and what is merely desirable.Willpower
A politician can have immense intelligence and all the other virtues, but if will is lacking he is nothing. Usually a leader has it in abundance. Will springs from unshakeable confidence in being right, but also from a more primitive instinct to dominate events which has little to do with logic or reason.Pertinacity
Mere flashes of will are not enough. The will must be organically linked to resolution, a determination to see the cause through at all costs...But doggedness should not be confused with blind obstinacy—the obstinacy of a George III or a Jefferson Davis. As with will, resolution must be linked to sound aims.Ability to communicate
The value of possessing a few simple ideas which are true and workable is enormously enhanced if the leader can put them across with equal simplicity.Magnanimity
Greatness of soul. It is not easy to define this supreme quality, which few even among the greatest leaders possess. It is a virtue which makes one warm to its possessor. We not only respect and like, we love Lincoln because he had it to an unusual degree. It was part of his inner being. And Churchill, who also had it, made it one of the top quartet of characteristics which he expected the statesman to show. A passage he penned as the First World War was about to end reads: “In war, resolution. In defeat, defiance. In victory, magnanimity. In peace, good will.” This is a sentiment which all those in public life should learn by heart. It encapsulates the lessons of history better than entire books.