Redcuchulain takes a look at the growing number of voters attracted to Pauline Hanson and puts forth suggestions for progressive leaders to combat this.
To quote an old Arabic saying , “If people are thirsty enough they will drink the sand”. I do not believe that 23% of Queenslanders are turning to Pauline Hanson’s One Nation because they are racist. It is more that they feel that they are not being listened to by anyone else. They will no longer put up with it.
There is no doubt that social inequality is increasing. The poor feel vilified and disenfranchised. All while we hear stories like we did last week about the six executives from Australia post taking home half the profits. Jobs disappear and it is the less educated who are suffering. Jobs are outsourced to countries where labour is cheaper. We are being replaced by machines everywhere from the coal mine to the supermarket checkout.
Back in 1964 Donald Horne coined the phrase , “The Lucky Country”. While this phrase is generally now accepted as a positive reference and has been repeated everywhere from cigarette adverts to patriotic Aussie songs, Horne’s original meaning of the phrase was somewhat different. He noticed that the structure of our economy was more like a developing nation. We export lots of raw material and then we buy back finished product.
We also do not have a great record on the management of our environment. Australia is essentially an Anglo-Saxon culture country in the middle of Asia. However, we haven’t really worked out our place in it. Australia was seen as ‘The Lucky Country,’ as it enjoys a very good standard of living despite all this.
Quite simply there are a lot of natural resources compared to the size of the population. Fifty years on from Horne’s book our luck is running out.
I believe the future of Australia requires us to structurally change our economy. It requires us to increase our educational standards. Our educational standards aren’t all that great compared with other countries. We need to invest more in science and innovation and actually start exporting knowledge and products. We need world standard infrastructure, like the original NBN.
Hanson is openly anti-science. She supports a dumbing down of educational standards for professionals. Hanson does not seem to have any original ideas other than to collect vastly less tax than even a conservative government would support.
Of course her followers do not seem to be able to deduct that this type of conservatism would flow to vastly less expenditure on everything from defence to education. Perhaps she thinks that everything in the new world will be priced in 1964 dollars as well.
It is perhaps ironic that that Hanson and her party are prepared to sit and deny that the world is changing and are in fear of Islam. They sit like the Byzantines who denied science and clung to their old religious beliefs right up until Mehmet was at their gates with his superior technology and took their city from them.
Except the Hansonites are chasing the wrong foe. It is not the Muslims who will destroy our way of life but our own failure to innovate.
Protectionist policies do nothing to lift productivity. They give a country the economic prowess of the South African rugby team when they first waddled around the pitch at the end of the apartheid era after being isolated for 25 years.
There is a difference between governments creating infrastructure and investing in research to give your industry a fighting chance and putting up trade barriers.
Populist politicians are tapping into the very valid emotion people are feeling that things felt better in the past.
One Nation’s idea seems to be to go back to 1964 when Australia felt lucky. I do not believe that rolling back social attitudes back to 1964, denying climate change or rolling back education to what was required in the 60’s is going to make us lucky again. It isn’t going to bring the jobs back.
It is my sincere hope that the next elections are fought over policy issues. I hope our debates move to positive ideas on how we don’t leave sections of our community behind in terms of rising living standards.
The first thing that progressive politicians need to do is acknowledge the lack of hope that sections of the community are feeling at the moment.
In 1964 a person could move from job to job, they had more in life than their parents had (their parents lived through a war but people often forget that) and the idea that growth could not go on forever without destroying our planet was the domain of a few academics.
The more narrow religion dominated social narrative, while abhorrent for progressives may have been easier for many people to understand. There is a large cohort of mainly white, 50 and over Australians who perhaps miss that country that they perceived lucky.
They make up a large portion of the electorate. They have less of their life in front of them than what is behind them.
The ‘serious’ consequences of climate change are always talked about occurring in 2050 and it is human nature to think of something beyond our expected lifetime as abstract and unreal.
They see things harder for their children and grandchildren and if we could just dial back the clock on a few things it would be better. Wouldn’t it? These people don’t care much for celebrating our progressive victories such as improved university participation, women’s rights or social justice. These are things that affect other people. The ‘elites’.
Progressives need to find a way to reconnect with these people if we are to bring them on our journey forward. Part of this will involve acknowledging that there are bits of the old world that had value and that we have lost as well as gained.
These people have not enough hope to drink. They are thirsty.
Drinking Pauline’s sand will not quench thirst. It will make you even thirstier and your guts will end up… well…full of it. It is up to us to provide a different bottle.
Yesterday, a heartbreaking tragedy occurred in the centre of Melbourne. Four people are dead including a young child. In times of crisis and tragedy, it is important to reflect on how our leaders respond.
It is important to reflect on the words of those who seek high office and those who seek to represent the people.
Their words can either unify us in strength and respond with solutions that will protect us from greater harm, or they can divide us and offer us non-practical knee jerk reactions.
Their words should console us and give us the strength to carry on. Their words should respect the lives lost and those who are injured.
Their words should pay tribute to those who selflessly put their own lives in danger, whether it is emergency services or volunteers at the scene.
Our leaders should respond with genuine empathy, seriousness and concern. Their first concern should always be about the people.
The public and of course other leaders should outright condemn politicians who make a tragedy all about themselves or their agenda.
I will leave the responses from our various leaders and politicians below for the readers to judge.
The prayers and heartfelt sympathies of all Australians are with the victims and the families of the victims of this shocking crime in Melbourne today. And we thank and acknowledge the heroism, the professionalism of the police and the emergency workers who rushed to the aid of the victims, joined by bystanders who mindless of their own danger sought to help those who had been attacked in this shocking crime. Their love, their selflessness, their courage, is the very best of our Australian spirit.
All Australians stand with the people of Melbourne in this horrific moment.
We offer our heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of the lost.
We pray for the injured and the frightened, in particular the very young children.
We pay tribute to the first responders. We give thanks for the bravery of the police, the speed of the paramedics and the skill of those who’ve worked to save the lives of the injured.
We salute those passers-by who rushed to the aid of their neighbours.
But we also know that on dark days like this, words are so inadequate.
Words can’t capture the horror we feel. Words can’t comfort those who’ve lost someone they love. Words won’t heal people who’ve been hurt or banish the fear. Words can’t put back the lives stolen in a few minutes of madness.
It’s difficult for all of us to comprehend how, why and what has happened. Harder still to understand that it happened here, in a country and a city that prides itself on being such a welcoming, safe and peaceful place.
Victoria Police have made it clear this was not an act of terror, it was an act of murder. A cowardly, senseless, destructive crime that has claimed the lives of innocent people.
We wait for answers, we wait for justice and tonight we hold all those in sadness and pain, close to our hearts.
People who are concerned about loved ones can call the helpline on 1800 727 077.
Our hearts are breaking this afternoon.
People have died in the heart of our city.
Others are seriously injured. Young and old. And all of them were innocent.
All of them were just going about their day, like you or I.
Some families are just starting to find out the news about their loved ones, and right now, our thoughts are with each and every one of them.
I’m so proud of all the Victorians who reached out and provided care and support to strangers today.
I’m so thankful for all our police, paramedics and emergency services workers who launched into action, and will now be working around the clock.
And I hope that everyone can be patient and cooperative, so we can let these professionals do their job.
This was a terrible crime – a senseless, evil act – and justice will be done.
My heart goes out to everyone affected by the horrible scenes we’ve seen in Melbourne’s CBD today.
I’ve stood on those Bourke Street corners many times, including with kids. My heart goes out to everyone suffering today. Big thanks to emergency service workers, especially those trying hard tonight to save lives.
I have just been told that there has been a terrorism attack in Melbourne.
People don’t look right. That they are not going to assimilate into our society, have a different ideology, different beliefs, don’t abide by our laws, our culture, our way of life, don’t let them in. Make this country safer for future generations.
All terrorist attacks in this country have been by Muslims. (Journalist: No they haven’t).
Australia is not immune to tragedy. Our tragedies are from the actions of other human beings or forced upon us by nature with fires, floods and cyclones.
Regardless of our politics, we should always seek to reject those who do not put others first. This is an automatic indicator that the inherent requirement to represent others is simply not a driver for that person and their motivations for public office are disingenuous and self-serving.
It is up to us to accept and revere Leaders who stand with us, comfort us and guide us in times of tragedy. Our existence as human beings, as community members, as families and as individuals is above all else.
It is up to us to reject, condemn and shame those who are not genuine in their desire to serve the people. It is up to us to demand that the media and other leaders do the same. However, trusted and true Leaders should need no encouragement from the people to do so.
There is a very stark and dark contrast between the words of Pauline Hanson today and that of other prominent leaders. As someone who the media promotes as a potential next Prime Minister; it is really important to frame Hanson’s words as the central to her motivations in public life.
Will the media continue to give a free rein and a supportive kid-glove approach to someone who believes they ‘say what Australians are thinking’ yet puts herself before others, even in times of devastating tragedy?
Well Pauline, yesterday Australians were thinking about the lives lost, the people injured and those who were left terrified and the work of our emergency services and volunteers. Australians were not thinking about where your next vote will come from.
The media is constantly giving the Pauline Hanson One Nation Party an absolute gamut of free advertising and promotion in the media, through their reporting, radio and TV shows. The media should take responsibility and cease this free promotion of this self-serving right wing nationalist immediately. The media are not oblivious to the power of influence they hold over the voting public.
Clearly, the contrast is in the video of this interview, where Hanson actually smirks as she turns away from James Ashby back to the media, before she went into her tirade about blaming terrorism and Muslims for this absolutely devastating tragedy.
Not once did she show empathy, compassion, concern or horror at what had occurred. Not once did she want to know more. The scale of the attack. How many injured. Was there still a threat?
Instead, Hanson smirked, turned to face the media and with smug satisfaction she announced there had been a terrorist attack in Melbourne. Then she used the death of others and the serious injuries of others to promote her populist ideology.
Considering Populism is the stark contrast between the corrupt elite and the will of the people; for Hanson to completely exclude any concern for the people from her rant, really reeks of blatant hypocrisy. It is time to put Australia first and reject this charlatan.
Clearly Hanson is all about the conversion of votes into cash and the luxury the power that public office brings. Clearly, no one but herself was her concern today.
Imagine Hanson leading the country in a time of war? No thanks.
It no longer saddens me that Hanson’s popularity is increasing. It absolutely distresses me.
The media is a very, very powerful being and it can and does shape the minds of the voting public. They media are very aware of their own influence. It is time the media took some responsibility for their role in the promotion of politicians.
We can no longer afford to stand by and to continue to allow the media to promote politicians who are disingenuous and self-serving and this is always very evident in times of crisis and tragedy. I thank the media who have called her actions out.
Let’s hope Channel Seven responds with a blanket ban.
Our country and our people are too precious to waste our faith in those who do not stand with us, but stand for themselves.
I know along with everyone reading this, my heart goes out to the people who have lost their lives and were injured yesterday and also to their families.
I would like to end this article by directing readers to another very good article on this topic by Jennifer Wilson: Giving a Damn Still Matters.
Indeed it does. Let’s not lose that anymore than we already have.
“You’re not saying anything Tony” a famous statement by a journalist in an interview with Tony Abbott, really summed up the former Prime Minister’s inability to defend his bad decisions, words or actions.
“You’re not doing anything Malcolm” is the thought that appears to be in almost everyone’s mind summing up what they think of Turnbull’s Prime Ministership and leadership qualities.
When people start reminiscing that Tony Abbott should come back, then that is a sure sign that Turnbull’s leadership has failed miserably.
The really sad thing about all of this, is Turnbull promotes himself as a great leader through his self-portrayal of positive leadership archetypes. It is almost as if he has a little read of popular coffee-top books about ‘great leadership’ and then pops up in public and acts out his newly found knowledge about ‘what makes a good leader.’ I’m not sure about you, but he always looks so fake and staged to me. It is my biggest annoyance with his ‘style.’
He has promoted himself as “The Change Catalyst” when he removed Tony Abbott and promised great change. He has promoted himself as “The Communicator” promising everyone with pomp and splendour and great verbosity, that he has the communication style that appeals to those within the party, has great appeal with the public and the communication style desperately needed to discuss important issues with all the friends and best friends and bestest of best good friends in other countries.
Most famously, he has promoted himself as “The Innovator”. He really got into character for this one. This one was like a full dress rehearsal – Apple Watch and reeling off a full gamut of tech apps. He was very careful not to include apps like Tinder, to give the impression he just ‘wasn’t just rattling off apps’, but he was an active app user. However it seems that everyone is now swiping left. Sorry Malcolm.
The disconnect between how Turnbull displays himself as a positive leadership archetype, to the negative leadership archetype he actually delivers, appears to be vast.
Turnbull in my view is a collective of negative leadership archetypes which are used to symbolise toxic, bad, poor, weak or useless leaders.
Turnbull’s leadership behaviour can be summed up as collective of the negative leadership archetypes of “Friendly, mushroom, destructive seagull” leader. His leadership is so poor, that it is difficult to pick just one which describes his current failure in leading this country forward and providing good Governance.
Although this sounds like a positive trait, this negative leadership trait is the most discussed amongst the media and other politicians. The Friendly leader is too scared to make waves with others he disagrees with, out of fear of being derailed or losing power. This leader enables subordinates to hold power over the leader and this leads to poor decision making through trying to keep the most powerful subordinates onside. These poor decisions include unpopular decisions for the majority but favoured by the sub-group ‘in power.’ The leader ends up losing control and powerful subordinates end up being the defacto leaders. When people start asking “Who is really running the country?” it is almost certain a weak leader has enabled defacto leadership to occur.
The mushroom leader kind of fits Turnbull, but also kind of doesn’t. The Mushroom leader effectively “keeps everyone in the dark and feeds them a load of manure.”
The problem is with a mushroom leader they have an agenda, but don’t communicate it to anyone else. So, what happens is only the leader knows what he wants to achieve, but everyone else….does not! This creates a lot of confusion and disarray (Pyne! Pyne! lock the bloody doors mate!)
A good example of this is the GST debate, where it was on the table, not taken completely off the table, back on the table, a thought bubble to gauge public opinion, and then Turnbull announced he had killed his own idea, because it was umm…not a good idea? Confused? I bow before Mark Kenny who had the ability to be able to describe this debacle with a straight face.
The conundrum of using the definition of a Mushroom Leader, is does Turnbull have an agenda he isn’t sharing; or does he have no agenda at all? Regardless, would there be consensus that we are being kept in the dark and being fed a load of manure? I would personally put my hand up for that one.
Turnbull is more a passive-destructive leader in the way he has a clear absence of any agenda, be it the progressive agenda he pretended to promote prior to becoming PM (that is a story for another day) or a conservative agenda many in his own party value. The negative trait of insincerity speaks to this. Destructive leaders are about short term gain, usually to their own benefit. They are driven by egoism and ‘the desire to take their rightful place.’ It doesn’t matter that they don’t know what to do when they get there, they will either bully or blame others and manage from a distance and avoid responsibility. A destructive leader does not understand nor champion the strong values of those he leads and is a danger to ‘destroying the brand.’ We are hearing strong arguments from those who truly value conservatism on this as Turnbull’s biggest failure. We are hearing strong arguments from the general public, on his inability to champion what Australians see as important issues to champion, through his complete lack of vision and agenda.
Unless of course, I am wrong and the discussion of favourite TV shows in the Senate today are indeed matters of serious importance and this was not due to the lack of matters of serious importance to debate!
The most famous of all negative leadership archetypes is the beloved Seagull. The Seagull is defined as the leader who ‘flies in, craps all over everything and takes off.” The interesting thing about the Seagull as related to describing Turnbull’s leadership is:
How do they fly in?
They normally appear (sometimes out of nowhere) puffed up, brave, resilient and knowledgeable in times of trouble, ‘as the hero who can save the company – or in this case – the country.’
How do they communicate?
Seagulls make a lot of noise. Normally about themselves to deflect any attention away that they have no idea what they are doing. They need constant attention and spotlight to talk about themselves, so they appear important. Squawk. Squawk. Innovation. Squaarrk. (Sorry Mr. Pyne, but Mr. Turnbull wants us to believe he is the real fixer!)
How do they relate to others?
The Seagull (when it is impossible to talk about himself to avoid responsibility) blames others. They will target others as a source of their anger and the Seagull never accepts blame. It is unusual in politics for leaders to blame their own party members, so deflection of blame is usually, on other parties, members of other parties, or even the Media (Yes ABC – Sorry Turnbull had to cut all that money from you, but….Squark!)
Sometimes they will have hysterical fits and take things away from others (Sorry Scott, but Malcolm couldn’t talk about himself to get out of this one, so he just had to take that GST play thingy off you!)
When do they fly off?
I don’t have a crystal ball on this one, but to stay true to the Seagull form, Turnbull simply cannot be deposed. The genuine style of the Seagull is he would need to take a much more glorious job offer of much more importance (global position? Innovative start up which will be the cure all unemployment in Australia?), where his skills are in great need to solve greater problems than the ones he has offered to solve now. In true form he would tearfully wave goodbye to all those who adore him, with a great big long speech about himself and take off.
Once Turnbull takes off, the questions are:
What mess will he leave behind? and…
Who will fly in to steal your chips at the beach? Abbott, Morrison or maybe Bishop?
Only time will tell.
A year ago, Malcolm Turnbull downloaded Bruno Mar’s “The Lazy Song” and it has been on repeat for the past year. The first line of the song “Today I don’t feel like doing anything” completely epitomises every single day of the Turnbull Government.
The media also seems to be stuck in a cycle of just accepting this as the new norm (except for Andrew Bolt who has really pushed the point on this, with an interview with Peta Credlin this week.)
The problem for the innovative Prime Minister is although he promised new ideas and an innovative Government; his leadership behaviour is actually not conducive to innovative leadership.
Innovative leaders need to encompass idea generation, idea evaluation and idea implementation. Their personal qualities include an ability to continuously generate ideas, or the ability to lead people to generate ideas. Fearlessness in challenging the status quo, taking risks. The ability to know when to cancel projects and change course (the opposite to escalation of commitment!) and the ability to lead a collegial and cohesive team.
Turnbull has two main issues to address; or he will be playing “The Lazy Song” for another 365 days.
Escalation of commitment is when an individual or group persists on the same trajectory, even if they know it will result in a poor outcome. Normally, substantial time or money has been invested and this is the impetus for maintaining that commitment.
What has Turnbull invested? He has invested his entire career to get to this point. His investment success was that he was given the authority to over-throw a sitting Prime Minister. His other investment is that he guaranteed would be much more popular than Tony Abbott. Although Turnbull has won the 2016 election in his own right; one would be hard pressed to argue that Turnbull won the election as the “Popular Prime Minister.”
As onlookers, we will never be privy to the in-party investment Turnbull has made, until the ABC produces the sequel to “The Killing Season.” However, it seems clear that the investment was made to gain the support of the conservative right aligned faction of his party.
The leather jacket wearing progressive, forward thinking Turnbull he displayed to the public, as the ‘would be Prime Minister’ is in stark contrast to the conservative and dull Turnbull who is now the current Prime Minister.
Escalation of commitment can explain why although there is public opposition and a huge drop in his popularity, he is committed to maintaining Abbott’s:
1. A commitment to a Plebiscite on Marriage Equality
2. A commitment to stigmatising the poor by targeting welfare recipients as a budget savings measure, instead of treating them as human beings.
3. A commitment to offshore processing and a high level of secrecy surrounding asylum seekers
4. A commitment to supporting climate change deniers and climate change measures that are mere tokenism and not proactive.
5. A commitment to attack dog style politics due to the lack of policy ideas.
6. A commitment to blaming absolutely everyone else but his own leadership
7. A commitment to treating Gonski as a joke
8. A commitment to destroying our universal health care system – Medicare
9. A commitment to union bashing and disrespecting the worker
10. A commitment to the absence of Government intervention and lack of job creation.
The conundrum is, is Turnbull’s escalation of commitment a true escalation of commitment due to his personal investment to secure the top position or is it something intrinsic within him as a leader? Could Turnbull actually have every leader’s behavioural nightmare? Is he a leader who fears change?
One of the most important areas to lead change especially as an innovative change leader is one needs to be transparent and open and honest about who they are, and accept criticism and reflect on their own personal development.
Turnbull does appear to use a strong avoidance technique for any of this to occur. He has not been open and honest about why his focus has shifted from progressive to conservative and he does not accept criticism or (I can assume as an observer) he does not reflect on his own personal development, as the signature ‘blame everyone else’ behaviour has not changed.
Around this time last year, Turnbull promised the voting public that he would be the innovation prime minister.
The difficulty for Turnbull with innovation is innovation requires constant evolving change and continuous improvement. Maintaining the status quo through escalation of commitment kills off innovation faster than one can say “Betacord.”
For a Prime Minister to become the innovative Prime Minister he promised he would be, Turnbull needs to adopt a transformational leadership style. To do this, it is necessary to do a number of things and I’ll use this next section as a pictorial to show how things have gone wrong:
I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from a true great leader. May his words inspire Mr. Turnbull to have his first original idea.
The position of Prime Minister of Australia carries the burden of possessing and continuously honing the ability of great leadership to meet the demands of a diverse and complex range of societal and economic problems. Great leadership requires astute political skill. The factors of political skill are social astuteness, interpersonal influence, networking ability, and apparent sincerity (Ahearn et al., 2004). In addition, political skill is directly related to the subordinate’s or public’s trust in the leader and the ability for the leader to motivate others to champion the leader’s causes (Treadway et al. 2004).
A great Prime Minister – a great leader must feel compelled to progress the country. Progress as a nation for the betterment of its citizens should always be at the forefront of a Prime Minister’s mind. For leaders to progress a country, they must lead through transformational leadership (Bass, 1990). Transformational leaders must have charisma (to gain respect & trust), inspiration (to inspire) and individualised consideration (so individual’s feel important to the leader) (Cossin & Caballero, 2013).
Intrinsic to transformational leadership and political skill is a high level of emotional intelligence (Goleman, 2002).There are five factors of Emotional Intelligence:
As I know many of you have, I have observed quite a phenomena of regressiveness in our country. Our country appears to have stagnated. The question that needs to asked, to understand why is:
“If high emotional intelligence is intrinsic to transformational leadership and political skill, and these are antecedents for progress; then, is low emotional intelligence in a Prime Minister, a hindrance to progress?”
Emotional Intelligence is normally understood through a self-observation method/tool. However external observation methods have also been used (Pugh, 2008). For the purpose of this exercise, I am using a freely available Emotional Intelligence test (Institute of Health & Human Potential). Therefore, this is not as comprehensive as Emotional and Social Competence Inventory (ESCI) (Goleman, 2008) or other comprehensive EQ tests; but it will serve the required purpose.
Emotional Intelligence Analysis
As per the observation technique; I will show the question and my selection for the answer and qualify the answer below. I will then return the result for discussion. As this is a rather long blog post, feel free to skim past the explanations if you like. The responses are coded in red.
The Ratings Scale for all questions is:
Strongly Disagree / Disagree / Neither Agree nor Disagree / Agree / Strongly Agree
Question 1. I do not become defensive when criticized
Although Mr. Abbott has a practised technique to expertly avoid questions and scrutiny; he also uses covert defence mechanisms when criticised. He uses mechanisms such as denial. Mr. Abbott is reknowned for his broken promises and denial of wrongdoing. Another defence mechanism he uses is rationalisation. Mr. Abbott will often explain away the problem or issue, as if the wrong doing is justified. For example, when he used the term ‘Lifestyle Choice’ to defend the closure of Indigenous communities, he then further justified this term by stating he was just being realistic. Another use of rationalisation is blaming others. Blame Labor is a constant ‘go to’ for Tony Abbott to use as a defence for criticism. Therefore, I have chosen disagree instead of strongly disagree in this instance; as there are times that when challenged he does accept some responsibility (even if this is in the guise of a covert defence). Without a subjective perception, it is difficult to understand if he is using deep acting (genuine feelings) or surface acting here (non-genuine feelings) (Hochschild, 1979).
Question 2. I can stay calm under pressure
This question is actually quite tricky to answer as an observer; as I cannot directly experience any emotions Abbott may experience (thank God!). However, I have chosen this response due to the following reasons. Firstly, Tony Abbott definitely can remain calm under pressure to a general observer. As per the question above, he uses many techniques to deflect blame in a covert, yet defensive manner. Tony Abbott does have indeed some memorable responses when under pressure, such as when a journalist has backed him into a corner. An example is: “I know politicians are going to be judged on everything they say but sometimes in the heat of discussion you go a little bit further than you would if it was an absolutely calm, considered, prepared, scripted remark. The statements that need to be taken absolutely as gospel truth are those carefully prepared scripted remarks.”
On the other hand, Abbott is also well known for being quite prone to gaffes, captain’s picks gone wrong and just plain ridiculous comments, not befitting of a leader (or the infamous stunned silence). This question points to social skills and the ability to regulate ones emotions and also the ability to make sound leadership decisions. Although, outwardly he may appear to be regulating his emotions; his proneness to ‘gaffes’ can be supported by stress and decision making theory. Leaders who make poor choices under pressure are more likely to have both low self-efficacy (self-confidence/belief) in their own leadership skills and low-level emotional intelligence (MacKinnon et. al. 2013). In addition; Abbott often makes ‘off the cuff’ decisions and is known for not consulting others, including his well known ‘Captain’s Picks’ which have now left a trail of failures. MacKinnon provides some insight into the fluctuation of calmness and confidence and on the flip-side irrational thought and poor decision making. This could be argued that this is due to state anxiety, rather than a constant trait. Where Abbott is feeling quite pressured within a narrow time constraint, this is where the gaffes and Captain’s Picks and embarrassing comments are exposed. Leaders with low self-efficacy and low emotional intelligence do not take the time to consider all the alternatives; they make decisions without considering all the information and they consider alternatives in a very disorganised manner. Therefore, I have concluded that this response returns a ‘disagree’ rather than a ‘strongly disagree.’
Question 3. I handle set-backs effectively
Response: Strongly Disagree
This question points to motivation and the ability to overcome setbacks and relentlessly pursue goals. I have chosen strongly disagree in this instance; as it has become evident over time that under the Abbott Government; our nation has become stagnated and regressive. It is questionable whether Abbott had any long term goals as a starting point; or only to achieve his short term goal of winning the Prime Ministership. Newspaper after newspaper, with even the most right leaning newspapers joining the fray; we now read stories about how his leadership is terminal, having achieved nothing substantial and already having one leadership challenge (although there was no evident challenger.) His inability to negotiate with the cross bench and opposition to pass legislation, speaks volumes that he lacks the ability to handle set backs effectively to and relentlessly pursue goals.
Question 4. I manage anxiety, stress, anger, and fear in pursuit of a goal.
Response: Strongly Disagree
Once again, this is difficult from an objective view point. I have chosen strongly disagree for this question; as historically Abbott is well known for his outbursts of anger from his University days, right through to his pursuit of the Prime Ministership whilst in opposition. His one notable poorly managed anger response was the infamous ‘shirt-front’ incident; where he exclaimed “I’m going to shirt-front Mr. Putin. You bet you are, you bet I am.” The nonsensical latter half of the comment also points back to question 2, with another gaffe. The shirt-front comment shows an inability to consider all the alternative responses when put on the spot. As decision making is strongly tied to achieving goal objectives, I will refer the reader back to question 2, as included in how I have come to the conclusion for the response for this question. In relation to fear, once again, it is difficult to determine whether Abbott is using the technique of deep acting, where he genuinely is fearful of terrorism in this country and also believes asylum seekers to be terrorists. He is also accused quite frequently of using fear and nationalism as a tool to distract from contemporary pressures on the Government.
Question 5. I utilize criticism and other feedback for growth.
Response: Strongly Disagree
This question points to regulation of emotions and taking responsibility for your own performance. I have responded with a ‘strongly disagree’ as discussed above, Abbott has already had one leadership spill and he has promised to change. Six months on, it is quite evident that nothing has changed. Over the last six months, the gaffes, captain’s pick fails and inability to consult with others has remained static. This also is supported by question 2; as Abbott, either a lacks the propensity to change or has the inability to judge the perspective of others’ opinions of his leadership. This provides strong support for strongly disagree in that he does not take criticism on board, nor does he apply criticism to his own self-development and growth.
Question 6. I am positive.
Response: Strongly Disagree
This is somewhat difficult to judge based on the subjective perception; but from my objective perception I have chosen strongly disagree as the response. This question points to social skills and regulation of emotions. With regards to social skills, positivity is a tool used to motivate others to champion your goals and as a regulator to remain positive about your goals and change. Abbott also has a very negative view of minority groups in Australia. It could be argued that his ideological punitive approach to minority groups is an agenda for stigmatisation. His agenda for stigmatisation is a negative act to attempt to debase these groups as the tool to motivate others to accept punitive measures. He has a reluctance to frame Asylum Seekers and Indigenous Australians as an inclusive and cared for group. He has made some absolutely inexcusable and ignorant comments regarding both groups. Where Abbott tries to reinforce positivity, by repeating his ‘achievements’ of stopping the boats and axing the carbon tax; this is viewed as empty and hollow and for some, suspicious that these have been achieved or are worthy to be called ‘achievements.’ The shrillness of his vocal during these times and the rhetoric sounds as if it is to convince himself and not just others, also points to low self-efficacy of leadership as discussed in question 2.
Question 7. I maintain a sense of humour.
Response: Neither agree nor disagree
For this response, I have chosen neither agree nor disagree. Abbott does indeed display that he maintains a sense of humour – Humour which he (and possibly some others) finds funny. His humour is either prone to a gaffe moment. During the election these were affectionately referred to as ‘Daggy Dad moments. These gaffes often lead to general public expressing his gaffes as cringe-worthy and he also gives the social media political punters ample fodder for meme making and some very clever you tube videos. The memes and videos are often viewed as more humourous than the original intended Abbott humour, usually at the expense Mr. Abbott.
Question 8. I try to see things from another’s perspective.
Response: Strongly Disagree
The reason I have chosen strongly disagree for this question, is that this question points to the use of empathy in leadership. Abbott’s ingrained ideology and punitive approach is evidence that he lacks empathy and humanity in his perspective of and treatment of those on welfare, asylum seekers and Indigenous Australians and the LGBTIQ community. Where others have tried to explain the situational factors which cause harm; he either champions the cause of operating in secrecy, fobs people off, deflects blame onto others (Labor) or insists on legislation which makes society more oppressive for these groups. In addition, his lack of negotiation skills to progress legislation through the Senate, clearly shows he has the inability to understand the different perspective of others.
Question 9. I recognize how his or her behaviour affects others
Response: Strongly Disagree
This question points to the use of empathy and social skills. I have selected strongly disagree as Abbott has a very poor display of empathy and also has a very low level of understanding how to negotiate and understand others to form collegiate groups who work together for common goals. His lack of empathy in this area can be demonstrated with two recent current issues. The LGBTIQ community and allies are currently pressuring the Government for marriage equality. His lack of understanding of how the behaviour of those he champions on the Christian right is hurtful to the LGBTIQ community is quite evident. In addition, where the actions of his Ministers and border force agencies under the secrecy of Operation Sovereign Borders have been exposed to be cruel and heartless, with fresh allegations arising now of water-boarding and other harmful acts against asylum seekers, including rape and child abuse; his lack of understanding how the behaviour of others (his MP’s and agencies) affects others is overwhelmingly astounding. The other instance also relates to the secrecy of Operation Sovereign Borders with the recent allegations of covert spying on Senator Hanson-Young. To come to learn that you have been monitored in the privacy of your hotel room, must be extremely hurtful and shocking. Abbott’s silence on this issue, whilst he allows Minister Dutton to use derogatory language toward Ms. Hanson-Young is beyond reproach.
Question 10. I air grievances skillfully.
This question points to self-regulation and social skills. I have selected disagree, rather than strongly disagree; as I am not privy to how Abbott airs grievances within his own cohort in the party room or amongst his colleagues. However, where he does have a grievance, such as opposition to Labor policies; he demonstrates very poor skill in airing his grievance. His time in opposition as opposition leader saw a complete defiance to work with the Government of the day and he used a combative approach, rather than a conciliatory one. Instead of negotiating, he chose to inflame situations to the detriment of Australians. The tactic he used to air grievances whilst in opposition, was to champion three word slogans, rather than having any in-depth conversation with the public. This may have worked in opposition, as he had the luxury of assumed trust. However, as a political tool to implement as a Prime Minister, it will be difficult to bring others on board with change, with a shallow approach of sloganeering with a trust deficit. As Prime Minister where he may have a grievance about a current situation, his approach is either to deflect blame (blame Labor) or where he cannot do this, he will be completely absent and in hiding (as per the recent Speakership debacle).
Question 11. I can listen without jumping to judgement.
Response: Strongly Disagree
This question points to self-regulation and social skills. I have selected strongly disagree, as this ties in with question 2 with regards to decision making. As discussed in question 2; Abbott does not display that he takes the time to consider all options and has an ingrained ideological perspective, which is regressive and stagnant rather than progressive. To progress; one must have the ability to listen to others and suspend judgement. His inability to consult with others, has lead to a range of failed captain’s picks which have caused embarrassment for the Government. His resolve in sticking to the side of climate denial, despite the overwhelming evidence, and the insistence to lag behind other countries (including conservative Governments) on both climate change and marriage equality, supports that he is far to rash in jumping to his own conclusions, rather than a strong leader who is open to suggestions and ready to receive and consider the advice of others.
Question 12. I can freely admit to making a mistake.
Response: Strongly Disagree
As discussed in question 1 and other responses, Abbott is prone to deflecting blame to others, or using the excuse of secrecy as a cover, or he removes himself from the pressure by remaining absent from public view. Although during the election, we heard empty rhetoric such as ‘responsible Government’ ‘grown-up Government’. Abbott has held a consistent line of avoiding responsibility for mistakes. The one instance where he did take responsibility was his broken promise on cuts to the ABC. This question points to honesty and integrity as the sub-factor for emotional intelligence. It is fair to say that due to Abbott’s reluctance to take ownership of mistakes; this has created a trust deficit with the general public. The Abbott Government’s confidence rating has hit a record low; even lower than the period of the global financial crisis (Roy Morgan Research 2015).
Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire Result
Based on my response selections, the EI Questionnaire has returned that Abbott would most likely have a Very Poor Emotional Quotient.
Research Question Response and Consequences for Discussion
Although some may find the findings argued here as amusing or something to joke about; I wanted to raise some points to discuss the seriousness of low emotional intelligence and leadership. Although this analysis was completed using an observation technique, readers should consider my responses based on my supporting reasons for each answer. I welcome any debate if your own conclusions differ.
Emotional Intelligence is critical for effective leadership. In light of the original research question: If high emotional intelligence is intrinsic to transformational leadership and political skill, and these are antecedents for progress; then, is low emotional intelligence in a Prime Minister, a hindrance to progress? The conclusion based on the analysis would be yes.
Observing low emotional intelligence, including low self-efficacy of leadership skill in a Prime Minister raises some serious questions:
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