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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Aura of Power

Here is an excerpt from columnist Quentin Letts (recommended read if you’ve never heard of him) who was reporting an exchange in the British House of Commons between Michael Gove and Ed Balls. Conservative Michael Gove has just been appointed Education Secretary in the new Coalition government...

“For years he has cut a pigeon-chested figure, never quite seeming to fill his single-breasted suits, always looking as though he could do with some more mashed potato on his plate.

Yesterday (after his appointment) he cut a chunkier figure. It was almost as though office had bulked him out and had made him plant his feet more stoutly on the floor.

The suit looked more expensive, too.

This once spindly, now almost sleek, Secretary of State refused to show contrition for newspaper leaks about his schools policy... (etc)”

When people are in positions of power they seem to grow in stature. It’s not so much body language as an ‘aura’ around them which gives them this stature. They appear confident, positive and self-assured. If you don’t necessarily believe in them, at least you can respect them.

The reverse is true when they lose their positions of power. I have worked for two directors who, when they lost their jobs, seemed to visibly shrink in size. Suddenly, they lost their aura and they looked very ordinary indeed.

Why is this? They are the same people and their personalities haven’t changed. Yet their whole being is diminished.

Do we build them up in our minds? Are we overawed by them or is their something more?

I believe there’s something more, but I don’t know what it is!  What do you think?
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1 comment:

  1. I believe perception is in the "eye of the beholder." Some of the most popular movies stars have major "Character" flaws. When they are on top ... with a great movie, song etc. the public seems to justify them. When they are "down on their luck" their "Character" flaws are used as weapons against them. Look at Michael Jackson.

    If one is depending upon public opinion to boost self worth... they will be bitterly disappointed every time.