The greatest leaders in history have all seemed strong: though all in different ways. Some built strong into their names: William the Conqueror,
Richard the Lionheart, Alexander the Great. Even our African kings had such names: Tenkamenin, Shaka Zulu, Samore You’re, Mansa Musse,etc. The
rest actually strong , Nelson Mandela working out in prison; and the more
recent crop of athletic- looking leaders: the Obamas in the gym, Christine
Lagarde’s daily swimming and Tim Cook with his 5am workouts. Paul Kagame walks and many others.
Strength is not necessarily physical fitness- we all know what happens with Goriath and David. 1 Samuel 17. That is what meets our
instinctive needs. People need to know that their leader will defend them
from external threats. They must look as if they will fight tooth and nail on our
behalf. It’s not about whether they are strong, it’s whether they seem strong.
Appearance is what matters, not reality. It might seem superficial, but this is
the way leaders are judged. Famously in the 1960 Nixon– Kennedy presidential
debates, those who listened on the radio thought that Nixon was the winner,
those who watched it on TV thought Kennedy came out best. The difference
was appearance: where JFK looked tanned, slim and healthy, Nixon spilled out
over his ill- fitting suit, twitched and sweated. JFK looked the stronger: he won.
Women leade are not exempted from this clause: great women leaders also
appear strong. Margaret Thacher, Ellen
Johnson Sirleaf, Aja Fatoumata Jallow, Angela Markel, etc all this women have something in common-law well apart from being kickass women leaders and trailblazers.
Remember the archetypal image of Margaret Thatcher
Thatcher developed an image of enormous physical strength even though, in truth, she would probably have lost an arm-wrestle with any one of the so- called ‘wets’ in her Cabinet. It’s not being strong that matters
in the Language of Leadership, it’s seeming strong.The Look of Leadership is largely an illusion. And Thatcher certainly
seemed strong, even though it was all a creation: her
breathy, low voice, her broad shoulder pads and high
heels and, of course, the metaphoric imagery of the ‘Iron Lady’ (a phrase that was actually coined by the Russians).
The voice is an important tool in body language. Sometimes it’s not what you say but about how you say it. The voice indicates strength. A low voice is a sign of strength. In the USA, all eight presidential elections between 1960 and 2000, the candidate with the lower voice won the popular vote.
When it comes to women also, the shrill voice is looked up as nagging, that is why such women are trained to speak in a low voice. Magret Thatcher is said to have received training, so did Hillary Clinton.
In some instances we need help as women and that help might come with just a simple lowering of the voice.
So when you’ve worked on everything else and the spice of the voice.
Pause to show strength. Great speakers tend to clock in at around 90 words a
minute. They achieve this rate not by speaking in a slow, tedious, patronis-
ing way, which would rapidly become very irritating and annoying, but by
leaving pauses between each idea: pauses that give people time to think.