Red, White, and True: What If We Could Measure the Emotional Intelligence of Presidential Candidates?

Oct 25, 2016

Red, White, and True

Election Day is quickly approaching. We've seen the debates, heard the speeches, and read about the various controversies surrounding each of the 2016 presidential candidates. Electing the next leader of our country is both a privilege and a heavy task that American citizens will face on November 8. With so much conflicting information, wouldn't selecting our next president be easier if we could dismiss the speculations and subjectively compare each candidate by measuring the competencies that correlate to presidential success?

The job of being president of the United States is very similar to being the chief executive officer (CEO) of a company. The president represents our country, oversees the work of the government, manages all armed forces, and makes strategic leadership decisions. Similarly, a company's ​CEO represents his or her organization, manages its employees, and makes important decisions that affect the entire organization. Although alike, both leaders are selected in very different ways. If presidential candidates were required to go through the same hiring process as CEOs, it could give voters a much clearer picture of each candidate.

Although the presidential debates provided some insight into each candidate's past behavior, similar to a behavioral interview, the real insight would come from pre-employment assessments. The results from an emotional intelligence-based assessment, in particular, could even give voters a perspective on how each individual would actually perform on the job as president.

What is emotional intelligence and why is it important? It can identify both the biases and clarity in one's thinking patterns that allow an individual to make sound decisions, even presidential decisions. Leadership success of any kind—from the boardroom to the Oval Office—comes down to an individual's ability to exercise clear and sound judgment. This clarity in thinking and composure in stressful and chaotic situations is how strong leaders exhibit their effectiveness.

All great leaders have certain core competencies that set them apart and allow them to be successful in their role. Individuals who are aware of and have the ability to demonstrate the following emotional intelligence competencies would especially make for a successful president.

  • Integrity—The quality of being honest and having a moral compass as one's guide is necessary ​for developing trust with citizens, the military, government officials, and leaders of other nations.
  • Leadership—As the highest ranking person in our country, a proven record of directing others to successfully accomplish goals is necessary for both the CEO and commander-in-chief roles of being president.
  • Communication—Without clear communication skills, a president cannot have effective interactions with the countless people and entities he or she deals with on a daily basis. Poor communication increases conflicts, lowers efficiency, lowers engagement, decreases accountability, and simply cannot be afforded as the leader of a nation.

Through measuring emotional intelligence, we would have a clear picture of each candidate's strengths or weaknesses in each of these competencies, allowing for an unbiased comparison of each person. There would be no "he said, she said" and no media slant. There would only be simple, subjective results. Although it's unlikely that pre-employment assessments will become part of the presidential election process, voters can still keep these core competencies in mind when considering both candidates. We may never know the emotional intelligence of our nation's leaders, but you can certainly assess the emotional intelligence of your company's potential hires by incorporating pre-employment assessments into your hiring process.

ZERORISK helps organizations build great cultures by identifying, developing, and retaining top talent. The ZERORISK Hiring System blends a revolutionary behavioral science with state-of-the-art technology to reduce unwanted turnover and improve employee performance. For more information contact us at (800) 827-5991.

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