JJ Townsend


Am I Really Ready for Hillary?

Simply, no. A better question, does Hillary have the three traits every great leader need?


Motive. Passion. Spontaneity.



Those are three attributes that Chris Matthews talks about on his MSNBC show "Hardball".

Motive is the reason they have chosen “public life” and, as Matthews explains, “everybody knew why they [as leaders] were there.” Passion is “what makes them laugh, what makes them cry… what makes them get angry occasionally.” Spontaneity is “the ability to answer a question you haven’t heard before.”

Not only are those good qualities for an elected official they are good descriptors for anyone who aspires to lead other people. Let’s take them one at time.

Motive is purpose, the why of your life and the why you want to be in charge of other people’s lives. A retired CEO once mentioned about a conversation that he had with his father when he was 26 and he received his first promotion. His father told him that from now on his son was the most important person in his employees’ lives. It was he who would decide their jobs, their schedules and their futures.

A toilsome lesson for a young man but one that guided his life and should guide the thinking of anyone who is aspires to lead. Purpose is the inner compass that holds a leader on course but more importantly provides a lodestone for others to follow, too.

Passion is the fire that you project. I recall working with a CEO of a major automaker who used the word frequently in his communications with employees. This executive was passionate about the business and the product, and he wanted his employees to feel the same way, too. His passion animated his pursuit of corporate goals and it made it clear to everyone what was important and what was not.

Spontaneity really comes down to mental agility. On the surface it is the ability to think on your feet so when asked a question to which you don’t know the answer you don’t freeze like a deer caught in the headlights. This is where I think Hillary falls short.

Motive, passion and spontaneity complement one another. Spontaneity without purpose is glibness. Passion without purpose is hot air. Motive without passion is silence; no one knows what you are thinking or feeling. And worse where you want to take them. A leader who is motivated, passionate and spontaneous can use these attributes to build what all leaders need: trust, that bond that links followers to the individual and the cause.

These three words are not all that is necessary to lead. After all, you must be discerning, approachable and authentic, not to mention humble and resilient.  But these three words do give substance to a leader’s ambition and sustenance to a leader’s purpose.