A Reputation Expert Explains Why Character Is More Important Than Capability For Politicians

Business Insider UK spoke to Rupert Younger, the director of Oxford University’s centre for corporate reputation.

Younger told us that character plays a much larger role than capability when it comes to politics.

He believes that this reputational importance was the reason for Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the recent United States Elections.

Read the full transcript below:

Rupert Younger: Hi I’m Rupert younger, I’m director of Oxford University’s Centre for Corporate Reputation and I’m also co-author of The Reputation Game.

We’re struggling with this idea of “what exactly is a capable politician? What exactly is it that politicians are expected to do?” The research is pretty clear that says that it’s character that matters much more than capability when it comes to politics.

How you orient yourself, the type of transparency you’re prepared to engage with, certainly in the west. The way in which you develop your narratives, you comport yourself when it comes to the Q&A. That set of personal characteristics are extremely valuable and extremely important when it comes to reputations in politics.

The recent American elections are a very interesting frame to think about reputations. I think that irrespective of where you sit in terms of the actual outcome, it’s pretty clear that Hillary suffered a number of reputational downsides, she was hampered in her ability to secure the nomination by a number of repetitional factors.

The first is I think a question of, actually most of them are perceptions of character as opposed to capability.

I think most people regarded Hillary as an incredibly capable woman, and as a someone who was definitely able to command the incredibly complex world that she was trying to secure through the presidency.

But I think the character issues were her downfall, she came across as evasive when questions about her dealings with her charity, and some of the other areas and her data on her computers.

And that I think plays very badly when it comes to politics. Politics and politicians character is an incredibly important feature of reputation formation and destruction in political circumstances.


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