Leadership Style of Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton is an outstanding person in the sphere of politics. She is well-known by people all over the world, and her name is still often mentioned in the conversations about the political, public and private life of the American society. Her career, behavior, goals, motives and ability to fulfill the set tasks made her known not only as a politician, but also as a successful leader who knows how to organize, unite and motivate people to achieve the desirable results. Moreover, Hillary Clinton has been in the US politics for many years, and she is now regarded as one of the most successful leaders in the world.
Hillary Clinton was a respected person in the US politics when her husband was a president. This woman managed to maintain the respect she had been earning for years when Bill Clinton left his post with the scandal. She is still among the most trusted people in the United States as until 2013 she occupied the position of the US Secretary of State (Pinsky, 2013), and is not forgotten now while her husband, the former President, does not participate in the political life of the country for many years. In 2013, Forbes magazine ranked Hillary Clinton the fifth in the list of 100 most powerful women (Howard, 2013). For a certain number of qualities, she is often compared with Margaret Thatcher and named The Iron Lady after her (The Washington Post Staff, 2014).
Rebecca Shambaugh (2010, p. 2) claims that Hillary Clinton has only one formula of success and she has been using it for years, although many people do not notice the similarities in her behavior in facing tough situations, making the decisions, treating opponents, and achieving her goals. However, the majority of the US citizens recognize this formula and understand that it helped her obtain the highest positions by absolutely fair means. The post Clinton held in 2010 required making tough decisions and being one of the most extraordinary female leaders of those times. For many people, especially for those that had their businesses, Clinton was a teacher at that time as she recommended how to be successful and manage to preserve the businesses at times of the global recession the world entered in 2009 (Shambaugh, 2010, p. 2).
Hillary Clinton proves that she knows how to act in the difficult situations and how to help others survive in hard times. Shambaugh (2010, p. 3) claims that leadership style of the famous politician differs much from the one that was popular in the past and that is also often used by people in politics these days. This statement can be supported by indication of some qualities that Hillary Clinton as a leader possesses. First of all, Clinton is a very educated person. Moreover, she is constantly involved in the public life of the country, so that she is always aware of the state of things. With the help of her knowledge, awareness of the current situation, and power of observation, the politician is able to think seriously, objectively and quickly. Shambaugh (2010, p. 3) claims that in a current situation, when businesses introduce new strategies for their development, and the whole world starts changing the older ways of life to new ones, which are more radical and determined, leader’s new way of thinking is essential.
Secondly, Clinton manages to deviate from those patterns that were used in the past, which is, according to Lussier and Achua (2010, p. 8), an important feature every successful leader must possess. She tries to understand the present-day mood of the society, its needs and attitudes. For this reason, she sometimes has to take a risk making the decisions that are not always fully approved by other politicians or by ordinary people, but that are good for the society and that can change its life for better, putting it in the new stream of the functioning. Clinton always tries to be a mediator between the society and its governors when the decisions seemed not appropriate for one side and looks for ways to solve the problem.
Thirdly, the communication style must be considered. Another good aspect that is essential for a successful leader and is typical for Hillary Clinton, is the ability to communicate effectively. The former US Secretary of State proved it for multiple times that she knows when it is appropriate to talk, who the right person to have a conversation with is, and in which way the conversation must be organized. Shambaugh (2010, p. 3-4) claims that Clinton’s communication style is rich in different techniques, so that the politician does not always follow the same pattern of listening and speaking, but has a wide range of options to choose from and, what is more important, knows what variant to apply in a particular situation. Hillary Clinton can be a good listener, when it is needed (Shambaugh, 2010, p. 3). While someone is talking to her or to others in her presence, the so-called “American Iron Lady” pays attention to every word, which is, in her opinion, important. This fact can be easily seen from her interviews, public speeches, and discussions.
Furthermore, Hillary Clinton knows in what situations she can support others and what the points that she can easily agree with are. In addition to that, the leader can sometimes be a bit blunt, if she considers it to be appropriate under the circumstances (Shambaugh, 2010, p. 3). It is another diplomatic trick Clinton uses to contradict her opponents and prove the point of view, which, to her way of thinking, is the most appropriate. The politician learned all these techniques and used them on a daily basis. Despite the fact that they were risky sometimes, with their help, she managed to achieve the goals she set, become respected by the colleagues, significantly rise on the career ladder, and become a trusted and, more importantly, supported by many people leader. Therefore, Hillary Clinton knows how to make others think not only of their personal benefits, but also be concerned about the importance of the idea she suggests for the wellbeing of the whole country. According to Lussier and Achua (2010, p. 7), the ability to influence shown by Hillary Clinton is essential for a leader that will be followed by people.
A successful leader, in Mintzberg’s opinion, needs to have appropriate skills for performing some managerial roles (as cited in Lussier & Achua, 2010, p. 9). Hillary Clinton is reported to achieve a great success in dealing with a huge diversity of tasks, so she is actually able to fulfill all three types of managerial roles suggested by Mintzberg. She knows how to meet the requirements of interpersonal, informational, and decisional roles as she easily finds the approach to almost every person and knows how to communicate with people, inform the audience about the current state of things, make the decisions, suggest alternatives and convince others to support her. For this reason, Hillary Clinton is still an important person in the public and political life of the United States.
In order to be a good leader, a person must possess certain personality traits. As Hillary Clinton has accomplished leadership skills, she definitely has some features of character that help her act as a leader. The former US Secretary of State is not very strong in surgency, in other words, she has a slight desire to dominate – to control and influence people (Lussier & Achua, 2010, p. 34). That is why one can find little signs of domination in her behavior. A more typical for Clinton characteristics is agreeableness. She is a good communicator who likes socializing and can find an approach to people with different types of character.
Another dimension that makes Hillary Clinton a successful leader is her adjusting personality. The politician proved many times that she is able to keep calm under pressure, deal with stressful situations, and act and think objectively under the circumstances that strongly influence her emotions and personal attitudes. Moreover, this leader possesses the feature of conscientiousness, so she is very persistent, hardworking, and responsible. It is obvious that Clinton enjoys what she does since she is willing to share her experience and continues to work. With the help of these personal traits, she achieved what she has now.
Clinton’s openness to experience helped her in becoming a good leader. As Shambaugh (2010, p. 3) indicates, the former US Secretary of State is prepared to meet changes and benefits from it. In addition to all features aforementioned, Clinton is self-confident as she is not afraid to speak in public or participate in discussions of serious problems, persistent, highly energetic, intelligent, a bit dominating, emotionally stable and very hardworking. Thanks to the personality traits she has, the politician managed to become a true leader.
It is reported that ethical behavior strongly influences leadership effectiveness (Lussier & Achua, 2010, p. 54). Hillary Clinton carefully follows leadership ethics as it determines the attitude of the audience to her and her trustworthiness. Respect for her also depends greatly on her ethical behavior. There is a connection between her and Margaret Thatcher. They both are determined, sometimes strict and a little bit ruthless, but always fair. Despite the fact that Clinton has already achieved much, she treats people as equals and, therefore, her leadership ethics is not broken. Clinton’s ethical behavior is predetermined by the personality traits she has (Lussier & Achua, 2010, p. 54). Since they are positive, her behavior is ethical. Moreover, she has courage to make tough decisions, which also proves that she follows leadership ethics.
The greatest part of Clinton’s success is defined by her ability to behave as a true leader. According to Lussier and Achua (2010, p.70), leader’s behavior largely depends on his or her personality traits. Since the traits of Hillary Clinton are very positive, her behavior is correspondent. It would be wrong to assume that she never appears in hard situations that have no clear solution. The most important aspect of her leadership behavior is the way she acts under the circumstances. In some cases, her behavior may seem ruthless, but if to consider it from a closer perspective, it will be possible to estimate that the decisions she makes are fair.
If to apply the scale of leadership style developed by the researchers at the University of Iowa (Lussier & Achua, 2010, p. 70), Hillary Clinton is concluded to have a democratic leadership style as she is more inclined to cooperate with other people, encourage others to participate, and give some pieces of advice rather than order. According to the scheme developed at Ohio State University (Lussier & Achua, 2010, p. 74), Clinton has more consideration behavior than initiating structure behavior since she pays more attention to meeting people’s needs than to achieving outstanding results. Since meeting people’s needs is her primary goal, the 2008 candidate for Presidency can have both types of leadership behavior. Both schemes are combined in contingency leadership model (Lussier & Achua, 2010, p. 154). Being applied to Clinton’s traits and skills, such model states that this politician is both a task- and relationship‑oriented leader because the aims of Hillary Clinton are the same in each case: amend people’s life.
There is not much to say about Clinton’s motivation. It is clear that money does not serve her as motivation as they do not seem to be the most important factor in her life. The politician is aimed at bringing the highest benefit to the society she can – solving difficult issues in the life of the country. The most appropriate theory that could explain her motivation is, probably, equity theory. The politician wants everyone to be treated in a fair and equal way, and for this reason, she does what she thinks is the most appropriate to achieve equality of all people. The most important thing is the power of this motivation as it helps Hillary Clinton to pursue her goals and keep going despite any setbacks.
Since Hillary Clinton is recognized as a successful leader, she should have certain skills in influencing people. Thus, she definitely has a power to convince and stimulate people to support and follow her. The power is ensured by the qualities the politician possesses (Lussier & Achua, 2010, p. 110). Since Clinton is a good communicator, she always tries to do what she promises, keeps calm under pressure and is able to make thoughtful decisions in difficult situations. This is how she earned people’s respect and knows how to influence them. The politician uses unconventional means to achieve positive results, is a good strategist, and has a strong personal attraction for the followers (Lussier & Achua, 2010, p. 336-337) and, therefore, she has charisma. Being a charismatic leader, Hillary Clinton has strong personal power that is more determined by her inner qualities than the position she occupies. Moreover, the power she has is more expert than legitimate or coercive one as the politician’s skills and intelligence made her an expert in the public sector.
In addition to her power, Clinton uses networking as an effective tool for fulfilling her aims. She socializes with many different people and has friends with powerful connections that are ready to help. Moreover, Clinton cooperates with the public, so that it feels involved and wants to participate as well. The politician knows how to negotiate controversial or problematic issues for she has good diplomatic skills and knows which communication techniques should be used and when to adhere to them. The most significant aspect in the Clinton’s ways of influencing the society is that she does not cross the line between ethical and unethical behavior and for this reason she is known as a real leader. She managed to build a leadership culture that does not contradict her values, goals, personal traits, and attitudes.
Some leadership lessons can be learned from Hillary Clinton. Pinsky (2013) states that there are several good points proposed by the former 67th US Secretary of State that should be always kept in mind by those people that want to be respected, supported and followed by others. First of all, Clinton recommends making a decision based on evidence, not ideology. Secondly, teamwork and active cooperation must be ensured. Thirdly, if one wants to be a leader, he or she should try to achieve the desired goal and not stop until getting it. Fourthly, there is always a possibility to find a diplomatic way to solve the problem. Lastly, Clinton recommends defining what values are of a primary importance and never neglecting them, trying to share the opposite ones to achieve the goals.
All in all, Hillary Clinton is a true leader that can serve as an example for many people. Because of her charisma, personality traits, special communication and behavior skills, values, cooperation with others and motivation, she managed to achieve much in her life without breaking either legal or moral laws. Under any circumstances, she always tries to pursue her goals and struggle for people’s better future. Therefore, those who have a desire to be respected, tolerant, loyal, morally sustainable, and successful need to adhere to recommendations given by this leader.
- Howard, C. (2013, May 22). The world's most powerful women 2013. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinehoward/2013/05/22/the-worlds-most-powerful-women-2013/
- Lussier, R. N., & Achua, C. F. (2010). Leadership: Theory, application, & skill development (4th ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.
- Pinsky, E. (2013). Leadership lessons from Hillary Rodham Clinton. Retrieved from http://www.respectfulworkplace.com/2013/08/22/leadership-lessons-from-hilary-rodham-clinton/
- Shambaugh, R. (2010). Leadership secrets of Hillary Clinton. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
- The Washington Post Staff. (2014). Women leadership styles. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/notes-from-the-cracked-ceiling/index_leadership.html