Talk about a transforming event. It was the election nobody wanted and yet Canadians rose to the occasion with riveting results. Who could have predicted the virtual shutdown of the Bloc Québécois or Liberal defeat? Who knew the leadership debates would be so pivotal? Even pollsters and seasoned political analysts were caught off guard by the stellar ascendancy of Jack Layton and the NDP.
But before Mr. Harper returns to Ottawa with his Conservative majority, some observations about the leaders as final votes were counted and the results were clear:
Gilles Duceppe, too, delivered a difficult concession speech. Although he thanked supporters with genuine sincerity both his body language and words conveyed defeat. Impression management is a skill requiring tremendous self-discipline and Mr. Duceppe was not up to the challenge; he was emotional. As he made his way to the podium it was apparent that he had lost more than his seat, he had lost his credibility.
Jack Layton surprised a nation. He personified the executive presence I so often refer to, by demonstrating an intangible quality of leadership. What a victory! Some observers point to the televised debates as the turning point, where his powerful personality began to strike a chord with Canadians. Throughout Mr. Layton’s victory speech, great open, wide gestures embraced his supporters. He has vowed to bring a more respectful and positive tone to parliament. Civility in the House, is that possible?
For Stephen Harper, the long awaited true win. Congratulations Mr. Prime Minister! His victory speech marked a new open, energetic sensibility. And full marks for beginning en français and generous reference to Preston Manning. Extra points for shedding that ever-present blue sweater in place of a jacket, tie and crisp white shirt, instead of blue. I’m beginning to think that Mr. Harper’s majority may allow him to manage his self-perception with assurance and authority.
Canadians would welcome a more statesman-like Prime Minister. As an image consultant, it would be my privilege to assist Mr. Harper and put an end to the constant stream of criticism surrounding his appearance.
First Lady Laureen Harper looked lovely — proof that victory eclipses exhaustion. There was no sign of fatigue even after all those weeks on the campaign trail. But, and there is a but, Laureen would have been better served by a simple manicure than deep blue nail polish.
Subscribe to our FREE monthly newsletter
Download your free Executive Presence Scorecard