Mitt Romney: A Successful Executive, But Where is the Wisdom? – Part III

It is time to look at Mitt Romney now that we have discussed what wisdom is and how it works.

The argument that Romney is fit to be a CEO of a company but not the leader of a country is quite well-known without anyone really explaining why is it so. Hopefully this three part series will bring out the underlying thoughts behind the claim.

An effective leader is the one who leads from the front, sometimes making decisions that might prove unpopular in the short-term. How does s/he do that?

The leader of a company must be intelligent. The leader should know the market and the competition. S/he can extrapolate the past and correctly guess the future. S/he knows the balance sheet quite well. I think everyone will agree here that Romney is a good leader when it comes to running a company. Did he not make deeply unpopular (in the short-term) decisions such as laying people off? Surely he exported jobs but let us not get sentimental here; he did what was good for the company.

A different set of qualities are in play when it comes to leading the country. There is no doubt that there are some similarities between leader of a country and leader of a company. The leader of a country needs to be intelligent as well. He/she needs to know balance sheet of the country and must be able to make reasonably accurate forecasts about its economic matters.

However, there is another set of characteristics that come into play while leading a country. The leader of a country must be aware of the common man’s aspirations. S/he must be able to empathize with people, feel what everyone is thinking and understand what everyone wants. In other words, in this case, the leader must know what is meant by the ‘American dream’.

But how would the leader of a country do that? We have already looked at what is the underlying physiological process that is collectively referred to as wisdom. In order to gain this wisdom, s/he must have lived the life, must have been ‘there’ at some point of time in his/her life.

What happens when the leader is deficient in wisdom and cannot connect with people? You get a let-them-eat-cake-if-they-cannot-afford-bread leader.

This reference leads us to an interesting question. What about great leaders of the past? All those great kings and queens, where did they get their wisdom? Such comparison with the kings of the past is not relevant. A king really had nothing much to do with ‘common’ people. Managing a kingdom was not about the aspirations of the common people. It was always about forging alliances with other kingdoms, power politics, managing aristocracy, etc. Compare this with today’s leaders and you will see that the nature of leadership has completely changed in democracy.

Now that we have seen why wisdom is so important, and why connecting with common people so important, let us look at Romney to see if he has what it takes.

This is the easiest part of the story. It should be rather obvious that Romney does not have it. There are enough examples of Romney-foot-in-the-mouth gaffes floating on the web (here is a random link) so there is no point in repeating them.

Read the gaffes in the context of the discussion above and you will see why Mitt Romney is absolutely unfit to lead this country.