Now, I have spent countless hours getting to know, observe and study many of the GOP presidential candidates. And I’ve been struck by an uncanny likeness between Reagan and Mike Huckabee.
Not only are their personalities, styles and temperaments much alike, but they share many of the same principals, beliefs, talents and gifts, on top of having many similar experiences in their lives.
I don’t make these comparisons lightly. Here are some of the reasons why I think they are so similar.
The common thread begins in their backgrounds. Reagan and Huckabee successfully held the political office of governor of their state for two terms. Less well known is that before politics, Huckabee, like Reagan, worked in TV and radio.
The leadership strength both share is they are master communicators. The main essence of communication is to connect with others, and impart and share information or ideas. Both men share the keen ability to take complex ideas and difficult-to-understand problems and explain them in clear, concise and easy-to-understand ways.
“A leader,” Huckabee explains, “is the one who can outline the broad vision and the direction, and say here’s where we are going to go, here’s why we need to go there, and here’s how we are going to get there.”
Reagan and Huckabee are deep thinkers, but they both explain things in a very natural and easy-to-understand manner, often using metaphors and analogies. Pundits and journalists make the mistake of assuming them not to be deep thinkers, but this is contrarily so, because it takes a great deal of intelligence and unique ability to take the complex and paint word pictures and stories with examples to help clearly explain a multifaceted situation, or take a gigantic numerical figure and relate it to a common object as a way of explanation.
Early on, some intellectuals erroneously assumed the ability to speak clearly and naturally to everyday people, as Reagan did, was the result of simple thinking. However, quite the opposite was true. It takes a very gifted and skilled communicator to achieve this ability.
Another huge leadership quality and advantage both share is their optimism, cheerfulness, sense of humor and storytelling. In fact, what might come as a surprise to some is the importance storytelling can play in the lives of extraordinary leaders. Think Lincoln, Churchill and Roosevelt in addition to Reagan.
Another shared trait is Reagan’s and Huckabee’s sense of humor. Leadership studies have shown it’s a powerful tool and sign of intelligence. A cleverly placed joke can ease stress, decrease conflict and increases comradery, cohesiveness and bonding in groups. Motivational speaker Mike Kerr says humor can boost morale, motivate people, increases communication and builds trust and relationships.
After almost 8 years of Barack Obama, who caused deep wounds and division by stirring up hatred amongst Americans, our nation sorely needs to unite. Reagan was masterful at uniting Americans, as now Huckabee seeks to do. By having a great sense of humor, Reagan and Huckabee found a good way to express something that’s hard for some people to hear, but softens it while getting the idea or message across without sounding too harsh.
Neither Reagan or Huckabee are narcissistic and self-centered, like some politicians. “Candidates don’t run for themselves; they run for the future,” Huckabee said in October. And Reagan had a saying on his desk in the White House that read, “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.”