The Emotional Intelligence of Julia Gillard

“Hanging by a thread; Dismal Labor Lost for Words.” The headlines keep coming yet the Prime Minister shows incredible resilience and does not crack. How does she do it? What is in her emotional makeup that makes her so strong? Few CEOs have taken such a battering in the media.

The model of temperament that I like to use is the 7MTF/Humm-Wadsworth. Julia has two very strong components in her personality: the Politician and the Normal. In the 7MTF/Humm model, six components are related to a mental illness while the Normal acts as an inhibitor and stabiliser of the other six. The Politician component is related to paranoia:

Politicians are driven by the desire to win. They seek power and are steadfast, decisive, and forceful. They are very good in argument and very persuasive. Politicians often become managers in large organisations. They can be assertive and argumentative and are very good with words. Politicians are so aggressive that they are frequently nicknamed tigers. Blanche D’Alpuget, wife and biographer of Bob Hawke, calls this fighting spirit the warrior instinct and maintains it is a necessary ingredient in the personality of a national leader, such as the Prime Minister. Hawke, of course, has a very strong Politician component; even after winning four elections he still believed he would win a fifth. Like him, Julia too has a very strong Politician component. Of course many CEOs have a high Politician component.

Normals are governed by the desire for order. These people are logical, ethical and conservative. Normals tend to work for professional organisations such as lawyers and accountants. Because Normals tend to follow group norms assiduously and dress in white shirts and dark suits, many people think of them as penguins. Before she became a politician, Julia Gillard was a lawyer at Slater & Gordon, and with apologies to Germane Greer, Julia dresses like a Normal.

The Normal of Gillard is very high. Her self-control over the past months has been unbelievable and there is no doubt that she has a track record of getting things done. You may not agree with what she has put through Parliament but you have to admit she has got it through. She is terrific for staying on message.

The senior political journalist and former assistant to Peter Costello, Niki Savva, has said that people made three mistakes when they considered the temperament of politicians:

People underestimate the depth of the paranoia.
People underestimate the depth of the resentment towards slights received.
People underestimate the desire for revenge.

Given that Julia has such a strong Politician component, all three of these factors will come into play. She was ruthless in her execution of Rudd in the recent leadership battle. You also see it already in her constant blaming of Tony Abbot for everything that is wrong in the country. Her fingernails will be clawing the desk if the Labor party tries to remove her as Prime Minister and the subsequent repercussions will be put everything so far seen in this government in the shade. She will not go gently into that good night.


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