Sunday, November 5, 2017

Bill Clinton, Leadership and Woo

This morning I was looking at someone's resume and I came across some concepts that were unfamiliar to me, or at least initially. After listing, and assessing, his professional skills he also listed his five top strengths. At the top of the list was Woo.

O.K., so the only way I've used this word is in the context of one person wooing another, a social term related to romance. I asked Google for help and sure enough found it in an article titled Winning Others Over With The StrengthsFinder Theme Of Woo! Woohoo!

According to the author, Linda Schubring, "WOO stands for winning others over. At the heart, WOO is a social Intelligence theme. People with the strength of WOO have a great capacity to inspire and motivate others. WOO is not just a cheerleader, rather, WOO is adept and skillful in the social setting."

The article begins by identifying four social applications of Woo:
1. Social Intelligence
2. Social Instinct
3. Social Influence
4. Social Integration

While reading the description for this last application, an article I'd read about former President Clinton came to mind. Schulberg describes social integration as the ability to "read a room and understand how the elements within a social setting can work together for a positive experience for all."

The article I'd read described a critical visit by candidate Clinton to Chicago. He was to speak at a ballroom, probably some fundraising dinner, with 500 guests. The journalist covering the event said that he was astonished to see Clinton go table to table and address every singe person as if he knew them. Without notes he talked with each one by name, ever effervescent, with his undeniable, irrepressible winning charm.

It brought to mind another incident President Clinton's 1994 visit to Duluth on behalf of Dems preceding an upcoming election. The president was fond of jogging and scheduled an early morning 5-mile run on the Lakewalk. This turned out to be a decoy plan, or a notion nixed by the secret service agents who would be required to protect him. Instead, he began his run at Twin Ponds and headed west on Skyline Drive. I worked in West Duluth at the time and while listening to the radio heard it announced that he switched his routes and was going to be coming to 40th Avenue West. I immediately turned onto the Morris Thomas Road and headed to what I believed would be the final destination of that run.

I was first on the scene, and wondered if I'd heard right. But a minute later a second and third showed up, a father with his son straddling his shoulders. As we waited more cars and people began gathering. This being October it was quite chilly and we had our hands in our pockets. Two federal agents showed up, on bicycles, and ordered us to remove our hands from our pockets. After a pause they curtly instructed us to move across the road to where all the others had been gathering.

After a few more minutes the president and an entourage of local political and business leaders came into view from around the bend, Clinton taller and leaner than I'd anticipated, ruddy-faced and projecting a breezy charm that seemed natural, unforced. He hardly slowed as hands stretched toward him and he grasped as many as he could. I had the perfect angle. I was directly in front of the boy on Bill Howard's shoulders, the littlest tyke there and Mr. President had his eye on that little hand. But I had fastened my feet and took my stand and he clasped my own outstretched hand, smiling broadly as he let go to press the flesh with that little one.

President Clinton had Woo.

To learn more about this leadership quality, visit this page at Leadership Vision Consulting.

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It goes without saying that Woo isn't the only value one should consider when selecting our leaders, or when pursuing leadership ourselves. Character, for example, is an important consideration as well. Our picture of Adolf Hitler as a madman comes from seeing footage of him shrieking into a microphone in a gutteral language we do not comprehend. In point of fact, he was a remarkably persuasive orator with both charisma and influence, and would likely have been said to have a lot of Woo. Unfortunately.

Better role models, when it comes to Woo, might include Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King. 

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