February 12, 2008

Are you a Hillary of an Obama?

I still don't know whom to vote for, and Washington D.C. must vote for its Democratic and Republican candidates today! Here's an article that a friend shared with me:

Breaking NewsMonday, February 119:00 AM
Are you a Hillary or an Obama at work?

From Monday's Globe and Mail

You've paid your dues, worked long hours and taken on the tasks no one else wanted. You've earned that promotion, right?

But then, out of nowhere, some charismatic upstart waltzes in and starts dazzling everyone with his talk about change. How dare he!

If that scenario hits a little too close to your life at the office, you might be a Hillary.

If, on the other hand, you consider yourself a big thinker hemmed in at work by small-minded bureaucrats, you're probably more of an Obama.

More than fascinating political figures, the two contenders in the U.S. Democratic presidential primary represent two basic archetypes: the experienced striver and the charismatic visionary.

Of course, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are complex people with more to offer than experience and charisma, respectively. But on a basic level, those traits define them in the public imagination.

Translated to the office, the Hillary types work hard and earn respect but don't inspire people, while the Obama types fire everyone up with their grand visions but struggle to persuade people they can get the job done.

"Hillary Clinton is the person the executives, the senior people, would like to have working for them. Obama is the type of individual people would like to work for," says Bruce Snow, a partner with Halifax human resources firm Robertson Surrette.

Playing to the strengths of your own archetype can go a long way toward success at work.
And while a Hillary can't fake the charisma of an Obama, and an Obama can't pick up a truckload of gravitas overnight, both types can learn to compensate for their weaknesses.
The first step is figuring out which type you are. Do people admire you most for your hard work or your stirring rhetoric? You should choose an employer who values your contributions.

In a traditional industry such as banking, an Obama type may talk out of turn at meetings and be labelled a troublemaker, Mr. Snow says.

"Somebody like that is probably better off going to another organization where they can spread their wings a bit," such as a young tech firm, he says.

On the other hand, he's known successful executives - Hillary types - who joined start-up companies only to quit after a few weeks, frustrated by the lack of structure.

"The fundamental nature of a person is so difficult to change," Mr. Snow says. "It's better for a person to go to an environment that's a better fit for them."

Trying to fake charisma is a bad idea, says Toronto public speaking coach John Plank, using the example of Stockwell Day's ill-fated personal watercraft press conference in 2000 to illustrate his point.

"He was desperate to be charismatic, and it didn't work," Mr. Plank says. "If you pretend to be charismatic, you'll look like a really bad actor."

But all hope is not lost for Hillary types. Charisma can't be faked but it can be learned, Mr. Plank says.

"My advice to people who want to connect more in the workplace is, it's about being a great listener, an empathetic listener," he says.

"There's an old cliché: 'We don't care what you know until we know that you care.' "

Obama types who feel they're held back at work by lack of gravitas should first make sure they've really got the goods, Mr. Plank says. "If you have the skills and knowledge and experience, you have to look at whether you're communicating that."

Can the two types get along at work? Yes, experts say, but it takes some effort and patience.
Obamas must learn to appreciate their colleagues' attention to detail, while Hillarys have to tolerate occasional flights of fancy (no eye rolling, please). Organizations need both types of workers to succeed.

"An Obama type who is visionary, it's hard to imagine him with 10 Obamas working for him and getting anything done," Mr. Snow says. "I think they do need each other."
Vancouver life coach Laura North agrees, saying an ideal work team would include both types.

"It's remiss to say one is better," Ms. North says. "It depends on what your goal is - what are you trying to achieve? If you can meet in the middle, wouldn't that be amazing?"

The Obama

People admire your charisma, vision and dazzling smile.

You hate it when people don't have hope.

Office reputation Daydream Believer

Behind your back, your supporters remix your speeches into music videos.

Detractors complain you're a lightweight.

Notable quotable
"We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope. For when we have faced down impossible odds; when we've been told that we're not ready, or that we shouldn't try, or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we can." (Jan. 8)

The Hillary

People admire your reliability, work ethic and determination.

You hate it when people don't have all the facts.

Office reputation Bossy Britches

Behind your back, your supporters rave about your PowerPoint presentations.

Detractors complain you're unlikable.

Notable quotable:
"Some people believe you can get change by demanding it. And some people believe you can get change by hoping for it. Well, I believe the way you get change is by working hard for it. Persistence, perseverance, even some perspiration - that is how you change lives, you change institutions. That is what I have done my whole life." (Dec. 17, 2007)

The McCain

What about the McCain archetype?

Experienced and charismatic, with a nasty temper and a flair for survival, this personality type is a formidable one in the office and on the campaign trail.

John McCain, 71, presumptive Republican presidential nominee, would be the oldest U.S. president voted into office if he's elected. But as he has already taught his Republican rivals, you underestimate the wily old maverick at your peril.

The biggest workplace challenge for a McCain type is keeping one's anger under control. Yelling and occasionally shoving your way through disagreements may be acceptable behaviour in the U.S. Congress, but in most offices it would be grounds for dismissal.
Mr. McCain's greatest strengths are his personal story and his ability to connect with audiences, experts say.

"Leadership is essentially a story-telling contest, and whoever has the best story will win," says Toronto public speaking coach John Plank. "McCain is all about story."

Storytelling isn't just for the campaign trail, Mr. Plank says. Most business presentations are deadly boring, he says, so anyone who can turn a PowerPoint message into a story about people has a huge advantage. For example, instead of detailing the 15 advantages and 17 drawbacks to a new benefits plan, tell the story of how the new plan will affect "Mary" and "Bob."

Who knows, a good story may propel you to the corner office - if not an oval one.

Rebecca Dube


Anonymous said...

So which one are you?

Beaver said...

Huh. Not that I have an opinion on the matter, being a non-american... but I think I'm an Obama... stuck in a world full of Hillary's...