Confidence: Biden’s Achilles’ heel
True leadership requires confidence. Period.
This is something that must be exhibited by leaders, and also something that their followers must feel about them. In other words, a leader must exhibit confidence in their decisions, their speech, and their body language. Also, their followers must feel confident in the capabilities, intellect, and presence of their leader. Without both aspects, the leader’s effectiveness will crumble. In the case of Joe Biden, he has neither.
Despite the support of mainstream media, Biden's poll numbers continue to slip. This slippage seemed to gain steam back in August, when his numbers took a turn for the worst after the debacle that was the Afghanistan withdrawal.
I would argue that his numbers, compounded by the Kamala Harris leadership vacuum, are systemic of the American public’s newfound understanding of who Biden really is as their President. For months during the 2020 campaign, Biden was hidden away from the public, protected from tough questions, and insulated from the rigors of being constantly on the go. Today, however, we’ve seen nearly a year of his leadership presence, or more appropriately the lack thereof. For months, Biden seemed to avoid press conferences, instead depending on scripted outings. And still today he limits taking questions from the press, or speaking extemporaneously in front of a microphone.
As President, Biden can no longer ignore the limelight. He’s the leader of the free world, for goodness sake. People expect him to say something, anything, to lead, to build confidence. Yet his absence has become notorious. In fact, it’s systemic of an administration that seems to be hiding from itself.
But when Biden does make an appearance, he seems fragile, a man who is longer in top form. Perhaps this is why his handlers script his outings and limit exposure to the media, because they know he can’t handle the pressure. Ultimately, this has created an environment where people are no longer confident in his abilities to lead the nation. This has come about not just because of his horrible job with Afghanistan, but also because of the concerning nature of his speech and body language. Just watch a video of him interacting with political leaders, walking to and from Marine One, or any other public outing. It would seem to most people, including just about everyone I talk to, that he isn’t all there.
Back in August, former congressman, Dr. Greg Ganske wrote a column about Biden’s mental acuity and his obvious degradation. One aspect in particular that he mentions are the “changes in his gait, with little normal arm motion.” His body language is a clear indicator to Dr. Ganske that something is wrong. It’s also evident to me of Biden’s fragility. He reminds me of a feeble old man. It doesn’t give me any joy to say this. In fact, it pains me to think this, because regardless of politics, he is our President. I want our President to succeed for the American people; but to think that our President isn’t completely there erodes any confidence in my mind of his ability to succeed.
Now consider the confidence exuded by Barack Obama after eight years of being president. His farewell address, if you can look past the years of horrible policy and liberal progressivism, was uplifting and encouraging, as far as political speeches go. Additionally, more than any other act it cemented the confidence of the American public in his abilities as a leader. This confidence in speech and demeanor is what helped him win the presidency in the first place, to be reelected, and helped push through key legislation. His confidence was electrifying. This is a great lesson for future political leaders.
The same can be said for Donald Trump. He of all people is one of the most self-confident people in the world. This confidence propelled a businessman with no political experience into the Oval Office, of course his household name recognition definitely helped. However, when you look back at his blistering pace during the 2016 campaign where he held over 300 rallies and spoke directly to over 1 million people, not to mention the countless millions who viewed his rallies on TV or via the web, it’s not surprising to see how he tipped the scales against Hillary Clinton. His message to make America great again was a confidence boost that the American public couldn’t ignore.
Both Obama and Trump stand in direct opposition to Biden’s approach to presidential leadership. Biden does not engage often with the public or press, he doesn’t speak with confidence or act with surety of action as his predecessors did; rather Biden avoids this type of exposure at all costs. This leaves a glaring void of leadership, and where there’s a void it is filled with the public’s doubt.
This all leads to an environment where the American public is not confident in their commander-in-chief. There is little to feel confident about. Not only have things gone worse with COVID, a top-tier campaign issue for Biden, but he has also botched the Afghanistan withdrawal, has been unable to stop the border crisis, address rising gas prices, or even stem the tide of supply chain issues. When you take a step back and look at what he has and hasn’t accomplished, and add Harris’ foibles into the mix, the Biden administration gives little to be confident about.
In the end, the American public is forgiving and willing to give their president the benefit of the doubt, but they need to be constantly reassured that their commander-in-chief is confident in his abilities to lead, make tough decisions, protect them, and secure their freedoms. Failure to lift up the American public’s outlook in these areas will undermine any presidency. To help stop the bleeding, Biden must build confidence by appearing in public, answering tough questions, speaking coherently, and appearing strong with world leaders. Unfortunately, I’m not sure he’s capable of doing this.
Ultimately, a leader’s success is dependent upon his ability to be confident. This is a critical maxim for every leader, and unfortunately for Biden it is his Achilles’ heel.
Jason D. Bland is the founder of Signet Leadership, an organizational leadership consulting and coaching firm. He is a military veteran and experienced leader of organizational operations in both the military and civilian sectors. Jason is also a doctoral student at Regent University, studying Strategic Leadership. He writes about Christian leadership and its impact on society, as well as providing social and political commentary from a Christ-centered worldview. If you would like to connect with Jason he can be reached via email, LinkedIn, or Twitter.
Image: Gage Skidmore
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