Know Yourself, Know Your enemy, 100 battles, 100 victories.
Every Chinese I have asked knows this famous admonition by Sun Tzu. The application to emotional intelligence is profound. To be a successful general you must know the emotional drivers of yourself and your enemy.
Both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott have a strong will to win, which is necessary component in any politician desiring the top job. Indeed Julia’s will to win is probably even stronger than Tony’s. While having a strong will to win makes you decisive and resilient it may make you arrogant and over confident. Another problem is that you may make the conflicts personal. That certainly has happened in Australia. Marketing 101 says you never mention the names of your competitors. You always use some form of pseudonym. By contrast there probably never has been an elected government that spends more time mentioning their opposition by name that this one.
The question then needs to be asked: Is the early announcement of the election date an emotionally intelligent decision?
While there are many criticisms made of Tony Abbott no one can deny that he has an incredible amount of energy. The job of Leader of the Opposition is demanding but he is also a volunteer fire-fighter, a volunteer lifesaver and a volunteer Aboriginal Community Teacher as well. Who can forget the final days of the last election? Tony engaged in a non-stop 48 hour epic of campaigning. He was a true Energiser Bunny. Meanwhile Julia on final day voted and supposedly visited one polling booth.
In terms of the ability to sustain a long political campaign, the odds must favour Tony Abbott.
However there is another problem. Andrew Peacock made some interesting comments when he reflected on his role as Leader of the Opposition in the long 10 week election of 1984. He said that prior to an election the Leader of the Opposition was always in a very difficult position. The media, needing to keep close to those in power, always favoured the incumbent. The coverage of the opposition was usually poor and biased. However once the election started, the Leader of the Opposition moved to parity. Air time was more equal and the media became much fairer in its coverage, backing both horses. He said that Hawke had made a mistake in choosing a 10-week campaign because that had given him, as Opposition Leader, more time to emotionally connect with the electorate, particularly in the televised debates. Peacock said that this is why incumbent governments should keep the election period as short as possible. Only the hubris of Hawke made him choose a long election period.
Time will tell but at the moment I would argue the Gillard’s decision may well be the biggest emotional intelligence blunder of 2013.
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