How to be president
There's a lot to be learned from studying the image profile of a country's president or prime minister. On the one hand it tells us a lot of information about the head of state, but on the other it is hugely revealing in terms of the people who vote for them It's been many years since people voted purely for policies The further back in time you go the more disconnected the leader These days we are all far more confident and self-assured and think that the role of leadership—like celebrity—is achievable and accessible . We don't look for uniqueness any more; we look for similarities to ourselves . Where Ronald Reagan was a patriarchal figure, Bill Clinton was the guy next door who you'd see shoveling the kids into the back of the van every morning for school . George W . Bush has the attitude of a friendly guy you'd meet in a bar
Accessible or not, though, all modern leaders have to be image-aware . Awareness doesn't always mean success, but even the failures give us clues for behavior that we can take into our working lives, especially if you're going for a top job
I Height . This is really an issue of stature, rather than inches Most current leaders are tall, although not overly tall Those that aren't, like former Russian President Vladimir Putin or Hillary Clinton, will accentuate their stature by standing tall In the case of Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher they accentuate their height by wearing big hair When Thatcher took the UK to war, her hairstyle became bigger and more rigid Like a helmet I Hair. Which brings us on to the subject of hair . It is common knowledge that hair is a vote-winner Why? I think it might have something to do with instant identification. Your hair color, length, and style create an instant image in people's minds There has always been a link (erroneous, of course) between hair and virility . For many people, baldness is linked with both old age and babyhood All I hear about Prince William now is that he's "losing his hair . " This matters less for a modern leader, though, since head shaving has become an acceptable solution I Facial expressions. All political leaders know the importance of honing a couple of signature expressions Blair loved his raised-brow-and-smile face and his mouth-shrug, raised-eye, fast-blink look of regret in the face of tragedy . However, George W . Bush is more of a one-trick pony . If the twinkle-eyed, suppressed-but-shared-smile look isn't appropriate, he'll use it anyway Former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson employed a pipe as his prop to do his expression for him, and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher honed a rather regal look, with her eyes raised and slightly narrowed and a high-status, closed-lip smile I Walk . Intentional walking is important . Thatcher would always walk quickly to suggest decisiveness and energy During the Iraq War, Bush and Blair both discovered the Power Walk, 100 percent testosterone-fuelled, which was presumably supposed to impress the public and terrify the enemy, almost as though the two men were intending to get stuck into the fighting themselves They took large strides and held their arms away from their sides, signaling the kind of muscle-bound look you get with wrestlers and nightclub bouncers Both Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice have developed something of a military stride that they use during very important meetings Bill Clinton had a less remarkable walk, but his height and stature would always create a diversion, and so would his constant use of the wave I Leakage. All politicians have a whole raft of leakage gestures, but the good ones learn to contain them Some still have a habit of believing they're off camera right up until they start to speak, which is something the royals and certain celebrities have learned isn't true . One of Blair's greatest leakage gestures would come from his thumbs . He had a habit of doing the gated hands gesture, with hands held out in front of his torso, palms toward his body, and fingers held together . When he was on top of his game the thumbs would be erect, like a cocked gun. When he was less assured they'd be slightly bent
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