Forced awkward hugs, aggressive invasion of personal space, and forcing a handshake on people in distress, are all warnings about Scott Morrison’s Emotional Intelligence and Inauthentic Leadership style.
We collectively cringed as Scott Morrison forced a hug on New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. We watched in awkward trepidation as Morrison took up more and more of Shorten’s personal space in the Leader’s Debate. Shorten aptly nicknamed him “The Space Invader.”
There are generations of mother’s out there collectively internally screaming, that they ‘just want to wipe that smirk off his face‘ every single time he displays this bizarre, inappropriate emotion.
Anger and disbelief summed up our response this week as Scott Morrison forced a handshake on a Fire Fighter who had just lost his home. We were further angered when he forced another handshake on a 20 year old pregnant mother, who had just lost her home. Gobsmacked, we watched, as she pleaded to him for help and he turned and walked away. Our arms extended, shaking and closed fisted, rose as the metaphorical pitchforks they rightly were.
Most importantly, the forced awkward hug on Jacinda Arden, the space invading of Shorten’s personal space and Morrison’s constant discordant smirking, alone, are warning signs.
The high focus on self, refusing to acknowledge fault, dismissing criticism, the inability to reflect on his own actions, the constant deflection to sports, refusing to acknowledge facts, a focus on him (or him and Jen) instead of ‘us’ (the people), refusal to acknowledge reality, blatant lies (even with video evidence!), a history of ruthless incivility, history of lack of empathy, his self-identity as a saviour, nicknaming himself and a lack of judgement are also warning signs.
Moreover, these are warning signs of a leader displaying low emotional intelligence and poor leadership skills. Clearly, Walkley award winning journalists should have examined this more closely; before the election.
What Political Historian Norman Abjorensen wrote about Morrison in The Canberra Times today, shows that Morrison is not struggling as a new Prime Minister. This is the latest excuse, inexperience and the challenge of a new Prime Minister; but clearly, this is who he has always been. The warning signs were all there from those who know him; but yet also voted for him as the Leader of the Liberal Party. (No wonder Julie Bishop quit!)
In a number of interviews with current and former colleagues, what emerged was a picture of a complex and secretive figure, both ambitious and ruthless, and with little capacity for empathy or care about anyone who stood in his way.Norman Abjoresen, The Canberra Times 04.01.2020
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is touted as more important than IQ for leadership. You can be great at transactional tasks; but unless you can drive emotions and bring people along and feel the appropriate feelings and display the appropriate emotions – genuinely; nothing will work as well as it should. For example, if a Prime Minister smirks when he should be displaying empathy; he is exposed as inauthentic and out of touch.
There are five dimensions to emotional intelligence. I will discuss four of these dimensions as they apply to Scott Morrison. These are: Self-Regulation, Self-Awareness, Empathy and Social Skills. I have omitted Motivation for brevity.
What Self-Regulation of emotions warns us about Scott Morrison; is he is more likely to push us into unsafe, and unfair environments. Leaders with High EQ keep us safe and environments fair.
Self-Regulation isn’t about with-holding emotion. Nor is it showing regular dramatic outbursts of anger and shouting (In fact, that is aligned with low EQ). It is about regulating emotion and applying the right emotion at the right time. This means a person must have the ability to understand the context and the situation at hand to respond. As a Prime Minister, Scott Morrison fails at doing this at a National level as well as when he communicates to each of us as individuals.
A leader high in emotional intelligence is able to reflect on a situation and be thoughtful about it.
Morrison’s holiday in Hawaii, his secrecy around his holiday, his incompetence of clear deputy leadership at that time, his downplay of the natural bushfire disaster unfolding, are all signs of low emotional intelligence and being unable to reflect and act in a time of crisis.
If Morrison had the level of high emotional intelligence required of a Leader of high office, he would be able to be accept uncertainty and change and lead us through change with integrity.
There is not a starker contrast, than the entire world – the actual entire world actively working on strategies to reduce carbon emissions and act on climate change and a Prime Minister who carries a lump of coal into Parliament like a Life Like Baby Doll, he must lovingly look after all day for motherhood class.
Leaders with Low EQ will be judged by other leaders, due to the disconnect of genuine feelings about an issue and the emotions displayed about an issue. Morrison’s feelings and displayed emotions about Climate Change, and his flippancy towards action, is out of kilter with the global leadership community. The way leaders act has a ripple effect. Due to this, Morrison is already ridiculed globally. He will become increasingly isolated and become a global pariah in the community of international leaders passionate about climate change. This in-turn, will affect Australia’s standing in the global community, which could cause us significant damage to our reputation and trade options.
As a Pentecostal who participates in prayer, Morrison gives off the persona of one who is very emotionally self-aware. Furthermore, his first major speech as Prime Minister directed people to look inside his heart. Self-Awareness is about being in touch with your own emotions and feelings. Morrison paints himself as a man who is comfortable with his emotions and be level-headed enough to not get swept away by them.
Daniel Goleman, the leading expert on Emotional Intelligence, defines Self-Awareness as the most important dimension of leadership. Regardless of how Morrison paints himself as self-aware, his behaviour demonstrates otherwise. To be succinct, Morrison’s self-awareness is on permanent holiday.
Leaders with high self-awareness constantly reflect and challenge their own feelings, beliefs and emotions. They have constant goals about how to respond and behave in all situations. They actively seek feedback to improve their responses. They question why they feel a certain way about issues and events.
Most importantly, leaders with high EQ are able to develop their emotional responses in line with societal feeling rules and emotional display rules. These are the feelings and emotions we display, acceptable within our society. In short, a leader high in self-awareness should be in tune with how we are feeling and express genuine emotion to reflect back at us.
Leaders with high self-awareness, do not just reflect the same emotion we feel back at us. Their level of awareness is such, that even if they are feeling upset and distressed, they identify that others are feeling the same. They have a deep understanding of why they are feeling this way. Therefore, they display the emotions needed for others to feel safe and secure. They provide leadership and strength in dark times. Morrison fails demonstrably in this area.
Scott Morrison is facing increasing criticism about his responses and behaviour. Even those on his own side of politics are speaking out. NSW Liberal MP, Andrew Constance also echoing public sentiment that Morrison got the welcome he deserved, when when asked about Morrison’s visit to his fire ravaged community.
Morrison’s response to anger towards him, is “He doesn’t take it personally and it’s not about him.” Just by looking at this one response, we can examine how Morrison has a low level of self-awareness. Notably, he is missing a key leadership trait.
Leaders with low self-awareness are incapable of examining their own emotional responses. In addition, they focus more on self, than others. They also project a sense of being a victim, where they can. They deflect and are uncomfortable talking about negative events. They also downplay situations.
When Morrison indicates, ‘he doesn’t let it (the anger) bother him’, he positions himself as a victim. A victim that is ‘strong’ and is not bothered by the anger of others towards him. In addition, he makes the event about himself and not about the fact that others are angry at his behaviours and actions. He deflects by saying, that it is not about him. When the anger is indeed about him.
There have been numerous other examples. The deflection of a poor choice of holiday time, to satisfying the wishes of his children. His beliefs about volunteer pay and his inability to reflect on these feelings dismissing them as heroes ‘wanting to be there.’ His “it can wait” attitude about emergency COAG, meetings with fire chiefs. His deep feeling of sporting camaraderie that we can take comfort in the hero worship of the cricket in times of a country on fire and so forth.
If Scott Morrison had a high level of Self-Awareness, he would be able to reflect and understand why he has the feelings he has about certain issues. He would be able to identify that these feelings are incongruent with the feelings of Australians. Feedback would be crucial to him, that his emotions are coming across as callous and dismissive. He would take heed of feedback that his words and actions are making people feel insecure, angry and frightened. He would challenge himself to find the right emotion and words to comfort us and to lead us through this dark time. He does not.
If there is an example of a leader with perfect high level empathy as a construct of Emotional Intelligence, it is Jacinda Ardern. The empathy Prime Minister Ardern displays is high level in all three categories of empathy, that make up the EQ Empathy dimension. These are: Cognitive Empathy, Emotional Empathy and Compassionate Empathy.
Leaders with high level empathy are able to know and understand how others are feeling (cognitive empathy). They feel the same feelings as them at a deep level (emotional empathy) and they act with delicate compassion, but with lightning speed to move to help, when needed (Compassionate Empathy). Morrison is a total abject failure at this level.
Similar to the failed response to Hurricane Katrina in USA, Morrison has displayed a puzzling lackadaisical response to emergency co-ordination and urgency. In discussions about Leaders’ response to Hurricane Katrina, Daniel Goleman (Leading EQ Expert) highlights the importance of the poor response. He notes that victims were further victimised due to the indifference that the leadership showed. The abundance of TV Screens reflecting this, changed nothing.
Similarly, we watched in distress, upset, anger, tears, so many emotions as we witnessed yesterday, victims of the monstrous bush-fire, being further victimised by the indifference of a Prime Minister. A Prime Minister whose only concern was to pose as someone who cared, by literally grabbing victims’ hands and forcing them to shake his. Satisfied that he had his screen grab moment, he walked off, as he was being asked to provide more assistance.
Morrison has taken us down the dark spiral and we have crossed into the Abyss. A place beyond the netherworld, more sinister than a Prime Minister eating raw onions, or nodding for three minutes without saying anything in an interview.
As a Prime Minister, it is crucial that Scott Morrison has a high level of empathy. Not only is he presiding over increasing poverty and joblessness, but now unprecedented catastrophic bush-fires that will go on for months. Bush-fires that have taken everything from people, including their lives and their loved ones.
A leader with high-level empathy, would act as Jacinda Ardern has acted in times of crisis in New Zealand. Sadly, the contrast could not be more stark. There are so many examples to give, but briefly, he would have shown cognitive empathy towards the concerns of fire chiefs, trying to meet with him for months. In addition, he would have had emotional empathy and displayed that he felt genuine emotion and empathy for fire victims and exhausted fire fighters and most importantly, he would have demonstrated compassionate empathy and acted with dedication and timely precision to do everything he could to prevent such a catastrophic event, but also respond to the needs of those affected, in abundance. He would have called urgent review and action of all climate action policies. He has failed on all levels.
However, it is not inarguable that Morrison and those around him are quite aware that he has poor empathy skills. We taxpayers just paid $190,000 for an empathy coach for him.
It is every parent’s nightmare to have another parent call and say Johnny can’t come to the party because he doesn’t play well with others. In a nutshell, this sums up the necessity for leaders to have high level social skills.
Successful Leaders need high level social skills. In basic terms within EQ this is about being friendly, but with purpose. It is not just friendly banter, or being the biggest skulling bonehead dolt at the footy. Nor is it asking the open ended question repeatedly, “How good is…” with no meaning. High level social skills inspire and influence people.
Social skills in EQ are high level interpersonal skills required to bring people together for a purpose, high level negotiation, effective communication skills and change management skills, to name a few. Leaders with high level social skills also take ownership of responsibility seriously. Once again, Morrison fails at this level with great magnitude.
Some may argue that Morrison was just elected as the Prime Minister of Australia and this means that he has great social skills. It is true that we see him at the footy and cricket with happy mobs. He delves into our blokey culture of beer drinking with more photo ops. Let’s not forget that awful attempt at Fatman Scoop’s Be faithful (Hands Up) song in Parliament! We see him in thumbs up photos with adoring fans. So how did the popular party animal end up with fleas?
Daniel Goleman explains that we often mistake leaders who display aggression (such as invading Shorten’s space in the leader’s debate), the blokey tough guy stance (footy, drinking, thumbs up), and archetypal leaders, ie. the mongrel leader archetype, (shouty and demeaning to opposition) or hero archetypes (everyone’s mate – Scomo) for great leaders. Goleman says that we often mistake these traits for brilliance in a leader.
However, the test is when they make it to the top. For Morrison, this is what is playing out now and he is not doing well at all. The answer of popularity is that perception of a leader’s ability in times of crisis is not judged in manufactured situations. It is judged when the leader has to apply his or her skills. In fact, it stands to reason that when a large majority of people put their faith in a leader and that leader fails them in a time of desperation and crisis, he will be sent to the dog house. And that is how he got fleas.
If Scott Morrison had high level social skills, he would be right now effectively managing the biggest change since the industrial revolution we have faced. In a country where mining is a key industry and the shift that is required to address climate change; he is failing every single worker and every single community that needs jobs investment right now. This is an urgent requirement, not only to act on climate change; but to ensure mining regions are not left behind in poverty and joblessness when the market makes up his mind for him.
In addition, he would have demonstrated the social skills required to negotiate, direct, lead and co-ordinate the necessary prevention of and response to the more destructive natural disaster in our history.
He would not have gone off to Hawaii, or played cricket at Kirribilli House, or watched the Fire Works from his comfortable surroundings as people were fleeing terrified for their lives. He would have made himself available and communicated effectively his heartfelt support. He would be providing constant updates around the clock. He would give strength to those who must keep going in their delegated tasks. Importantly, he would display genuine empathy in his interpersonal encounters with victims and emergency workers.
Scott Morrison has failed dismally at every level. No. he doesn’t play well with others. He shouldn’t be at the party, let alone lead it!
The current crisis has exposed Scott Morrison as a failed leader. Using the concept of Emotional Intelligence, we can examine more closely why he has failed.
The terrifying aspect of seeking to understand Morrison from this angle, is that leaders with low emotional intelligence fail not just themselves, but us.
Everything about emotional intelligence underpins how safe we feel, how fair and equitable we are, how our paths to our own individual success is paved, the skills to develop the nation’s industry to name a few. Crucially, how we survive a time of crisis. The question on everyone’s lips should be – this is a natural disaster – what happens if there is a war?
It is two and half years to the next election and there are no jokes anymore. We are in for dangerous times ahead. The only hope we have is if the Liberal Party tests their new rule and he has a two thirds majority of the party to over-throw him. Otherwise, the cross bench could join together as a show of no confidence and refuse to pass any legislation and bring down parliament to an election.
Sadly, I think the only thing we can do is hang on. It will be a very dangerous and unpleasant ride ahead. Let’s hope we survive it. More importantly, let’s hope we survive him!
I will leave you with a little food for thought. Goleman warns that there is a dark side to high cognitive empathy. In Narcissist, Sociopaths and Machiavellian Leaders, they are acutely aware of the pain and suffering caused; but have no sympathy for the victims to do anything about it.
I think the most fitting ending to a piece about a man who is all about himself, is to use a quote from the man’s Maiden Speech in Parliament. At the time, Morrison was talking about Africa, but it is remarkably fitting for Australia today: As Scott Morrison once warned back in 2008:
When the history books are written, our age will be remembered for … what we did—or did not do to put the fire out ..Scott Morrison, Maiden Speech, 2008
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has truly united the country. Every single person with a beating heart and a working brain in Australia is united in their absolute anger towards him. United. Undivided. Shoulder to Shoulder. In anger. Australians have felt Morrison’s true contempt for us and have returned it with unwavering precision.
Kindness. That is Morrison’s answer. His response to abandoning the country as Leader during one of the biggest crises we have ever faced is, that “It is time for the discussion about his holiday to be over and that we should be kinder to each other.”
Kinder!!!! He wants US to be KINDER?? The arrogance just falls right out of his mouth every single time he speaks.
Here are five groups of people who need Morrison to be kind to them, RIGHT NOW. Then we might be kinder to him. (I said Might! OK!)
Morrison needs to be kind to our children. Our kids are absolutely terrified. They are terrified of having no future. They discuss with seriousness about whether to have children or not when they grow up. They are terrified of having no clean drinking water and the planet existing in a constant cycle of death and destruction.
Dad’s don’t just promise holidays. They also promise to stand by their kids, protect them always and fight for their future.
Instead of being an actual Dad, Morrison doubled down on his absolute bone headed, mind numbing drivel that we cannot act on climate without harming jobs. Labor has a plan to act on climate change AND protect jobs. Morrison needs to listen to that plan. NOW.
To show kindness to our Children – Morrison MUST commit to serious action on Climate Change TODAY.
He could also be kinder by holding a fully televised Youth Summit with two representatives from every single Primary and High School in the country.
Every single person in the country is emotionally exhausted watching helplessly. We watch as firefighters die, are injured, don’t have proper breathing equipment. We feel helpless as they are pushed beyond all human limits, as they try to save us.
Meanwhile, Morrison was doing bloody tequila shots at a bar in Hawaii. His clown posse back home were literally telling us exploding horse shit is the reason the country is on fire. I know where the horseshit is exploding from and it’s certainly not from the horses!
These incredible, incredible emergency workers have worked tirelessly and some without any compensation whatsoever. Workers and volunteers work in extremely dangerous conditions. Instead of showing true humility, contrition and leadership; Morrison used his arrival as a series of poor taste photo ops. These photos featured his smug face, with hard working emergency responders as the insignificant background. Once again. The arrogance!
Morrison needs to be kinder to Emergency Response Workers and Volunteers. He needs to treat the impact the climate is having on our country, as serious as he treats security and defense. He needs to fund the absolute hell out of Emergency Planning and Prevention. Mother Nature is at WAR with us. He needs to compensate volunteers for time, expertise and lost wages.
The worst bush fires in our history have the country in mourning. People have died, homes have been lost, businesses destroyed. Children no longer have fathers, husbands and wives no longer have the love of their life and parents grieve the loss of their children.
Amongst all this, is the tight-fisted surplus chasing driven excuse the Government calls “Disaster Relief funding.”
The people do not need Morrison’s faux kindness; nor his thoughts and prayers. He can be much kinder by reinstating Labor’s criteria for disaster relief funding, not punishing communities who have not had the funding for mitigation; admit that the current take on mitigation will not stop events such as massive bushfires or other disasters; but a serious commitment and action on climate change will.
As the Government has been so unkind to ENABLE disasters to occur, he should make a commitment to be kind right now. Anyone who loses their life should have a Government funded funeral and massive compensation to families. We cannot get these people back. He should commit to this immediately.
The jobless and underemployed are living in POVERTY, in a first world country. The callousness and punitive set up of the social security system has and is driving people to suicide. People who are loved very much by their families are experiencing self loathing, hunger, homelessness, depression, anxiety, hopelessness and helplessness. This is NOT Kind.
The Morrison Government has shirked all responsibility for job creation. They use joblessness in regions as a sickening plaything to not act on Climate Change. They push back against climate activists who want to shut down jobs without thinking or blinking; by fueling that and insisting there is no other way. It’s Jobs or Climate Action.
Morrison, a known show pony and lazy thinker, finds it absolutely impossible to develop a solution to reinvent communities that are now reliant on coal jobs. He finds it an absurd notion, that as leader of the country he can create new industry and job competition in regions, so coal is not the major employer and stops affecting absolutely everything.
In addition, climate change affects the poorest communities unfairly. Policy direction from all parties is directed at more able and wealthier home owners able to reduce their energy costs, rather than a national plan for ALL homes. We have treated the roll-out of our internet connection with more dedication than reducing energy costs for the poor in this country.
Also, the communities impacted the most by fires, drought, floods and cyclones are the regional, rural and remote communities, that are already so often ignored across ALL policy areas, including climate change.
If Morrison wanted to be truly kind he would create a consortium immediately consisting of State Leaders, Regional Mayors, Unions and Industry affected by the necessary industrial change to forge ahead with climate action. This consortium should not be directed by the energy sector, but a genuine commitment, working with various experts to reinvent and invest in regional communities to truly diversify local economies and create true job competition in regions across energy and non-energy sectors.
Scott Morrison should be so kind as to tell Matt Canavan to stop sitting on NAIF funding and actually spend it.
It would be so unkind to leave these communities behind as global markets decline in demand for thermal coal. It would be so unkind as to agree to environmentalists demands to cease the coal industry NOW and just simply push everyone in to poverty with nothing in its place. It would be unkind to refuse to sit down with Anthony Albanese and not work with Labor on Labor’s plan of action.
Climate change is not just a human rights issue for all of us, but it is a significant human rights issue for Indigenous People. Not just in Australia, but all over the world.
Indigenous people have a deeply inherent and emotional connection to country. It is something, non-indigenous people will never feel. We must accept it is not a part of us and give full respect to those who have this wonderful gift to feel that connection.
Enabling destruction of their country through the politics of division, is arrogant and ignorant. Ignoring the expertise of Indigenous people to care for and respect the land and wildlife, is just plain stupid and endangers all of us.
In addition, climate change impacts on poorer communities which often have a high Indigenous Population. Climate Action policy also has an impact on Indigenous communities. We simply cannot just believe that solutions that do not include Indigenous input, regardless of how well intentioned, are the best solutions for all.
If Scott Morrison believes we need to be kinder to each other, he can also be much kinder and much more respectful to Indigenous Communities and place a specific focus on climate change and climate action policy and how this affects Indigenous Communities. But most of all, actually listen and implement solutions via their concerns and expertise.
So, Scott Morrison says that it is time for us to be kinder to one another. It is fairly obvious from the above, that there are huge cohorts of people that he does not bestow the same kindness upon. Yet he calls for us to be kind, when he is facing personal criticism for choosing to go on holiday in Hawaii and abandoning the country, in a time of serious crisis.
The main criticisms of Scott Morrison at this time of national crisis, is his lack of leadership. Scott Morrison wants US to be kind to one another. However, he has shown an absolute void of Authentic Leadership. Authentic Leadership requires self awareness, a genuine self, fairness and equality and significant to this time, a moral perspective.
If this challenge of being kind to just five groups of people is too hard for Scott Morrison, he needs to be kind enough to step down.
If he does not have the inherent qualities to be an Authentic Leader, he should be so kind to go directly to the Governor General. Morrison should advise the Governor General that the task of Prime Minister is too difficult for him, request that Parliament is dissolved and call another election, immediately.
Yes, we can be kinder to each other. Let’s start with the level of kindness we need from Scott Morrison, right now.
A kiss on the cheek for Lee Rhiannon and a punch in the face for Tony Abbott. Two opposing ideologues tell the same story. Two very different reactions.
During the last sitting week of Parliament, the Turnbull Government tried to pass their version of the Gonski education reforms through the Senate. The Greens initially had indicated they would vote to support the Government.
However, at the time of the vote, the Greens voted against the Government. The turnaround pleased many. However, ideology it appears was not the reason.
As the week unravelled, Greens Senators accused NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon of white-anting, for campaigning against Gonski 2.0. Senator Rhiannon was subsequently reported to the Green’s National Council and on June 28 she was ‘temporarily excluded from party room discussions and decisions on contentious legislation.’
Senator Rhiannon defends her position and is a strong advocate for grassroots-based democratic political leadership, where members have a say. The Senator also proposed in light of the UK, we should take a stronger view of socialism and insisted it is what young people are asking for.
This is a direct ultimatum to the NSW Greens: either get with the increasingly right-wing program of Greens leader Richard Di Natale and his backers or piss off. (Red Flag)
Many praise Senator Rhiannon for staying true to her convictions. Standing up for her constituents and telling the truth.
Senator Sam Dastyari tweeted his support with a kiss on the cheek.
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie Tweeted:
and all over social media, we saw a similar story to this of many people angry at the Greens and Richard Di Natale for their treatment of Lee Rhiannon:
Another theme on social media is that the Greens are angry at Rhiannon, as they did not get their Greens “We Did It” to claim the glory of their negotiations. The cross-benchers who voted with the Government get their ‘We Did It’ moment instead.
and some are highlighting the ‘cosying up to the Liberals’ by the Greens is becoming all too frequent.
In short, Senator Rhiannon is reaping loads of praise and a kiss on the cheek for staying true to her convictions of leftism.
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was overthrown by his own party and lost the Prime Ministership on 14th September 2015. In Abbott’s final statement as Prime Minister he said:
“There will be no wrecking, no undermining, and no sniping. I’ve never leaked or backgrounded against anyone. And I certainly won’t start now.” (SMH)
However, since that day Abbott has continued to contribute conservative commentary in response to the Turnbull-led Moderates Government. Over the last few weeks, Abbott has delivered an increasingly strong conservative narrative.
Through a series of radio interviews, including an address to the IPA over the course of the last year and even a new slogan; Tony Abbott shares with the public a consistent and strong narrative. One that speaks to the urgent need to return conservative values to the Liberal Party.
Abbott is also calling for changes to the Liberal party to make it more democratic where members have a say.
The deep conviction to the ideology of small Government, reined in spending and individual freedom, is at the heart of what Abbott sees as the core values of the Liberals and what he believes is needed to move Australia forward.
Mr Abbott is urging conservatives to “take our party back, make it a party of the people again and then we can win the next election”. (Paul Bongiorno – The New Daily)
The Former Prime Minister receives a decent amount of backing from right-wing conservatives in the MSM and social media for his current stance. There is also a noticeable ‘Pro-Abbott cheer squad’ on Twitter and in Newspaper forums.
Despite the Abbott loyalists, Abbott is copping some big blows. From the left to moderate right, he is copping a punch in the face.
There are many who consider Abbott as disruptive, chaotic, out of control and a threat to losing the next election to Bill Shorten.
Senator Cormann described Abbott’s contributions as “Unhelpful.” Senator Sinodinos conceded that “the Liberal party can’t control Tony Abbott.”
Barrie Cassidy (Insiders Extra) said, “Tony
Abbott is running amok and it’s causing the Liberal Party a world of pain.”
There are reams of anti-Abbott posts on social media. Not in the sense that they are backing Turnbull over Abbott; but posting reminders of when Abbott was in power. The main message is a rejection of the return of the Abbott Ideology as Prime Minister.
I am asking readers to put aside their personal values/political ideology to one side and consider what is central to Rhiannon’s and Abbott’s stories.
Both are displaying a deep conviction for their political ideology.
They are both championing change for their respective parties to become more inclusive.
For Abbott his deep convictions see him pushing for what he sees as the way forward for Australia – Conservatism.
For Rhiannon her deep convictions see her pushing for what she sees as the way forward
for Australia – Socialism.
However, the pattern in the response narrative I am picking up is that Rhiannon is a politician who is desperately doing what we need politicians to do. That is to stand up what they believe in, in times of adversity. The momentum is there behind Rhiannon for her to triumph over the stronger faction led by Di Natale.
The response narrative to Abbott is peppered with the insinuation that he should sit down, shut up and resign. He should not stand up for his true values of conservatism. He should not fight for what he sees as right in times of adversity. There is a momentum shouting down Abbott to bow down to the stronger faction led by Turnbull.
For those who oppose either ideology and want to rise above it in power, leadership is the key. (Bytheway Di Natale – leaders who punish dissent are sooo 1980s – Schein says it leads to crisis and dysfunction).
The Greens and the Liberals must fight this out within their own parties. The dissent must be allowed to enable the pathway to a clear direction. It must be allowed to showcase or condemn the leadership abilities of the respective leaders. Otherwise, the cracks will turn into canyons.
There is a plethora of Leadership theories. However, in very simple terms, what you put into leadership is what it does.
If your leadership strategies are about unity – you will unite. When your leadership strategies are about championing change. You will enable change. If your leadership strategies are transformational, you will empower others and develop a strong culture where people champion and truly believe your vision.
One thing Bill Shorten is not given credit for is his very strong leadership qualities. The Rudd/Gillard/Rudd years were in the not too distant past. The Labor party at that time was in the same disarray. Shorten has utilised all of the leadership strategies outlined above. For the past four years, Shorten has led a strong, unified movement, which most said would never recover from the deep factional divide of the Rudd-Gillard years.
If Turnbull was as strong a leader as Shorten, Abbott’s push for conservatism would be as insignificant as the score at half-time in the State of Origin decider.
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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