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Prime Minister Abbott - can he really step up?

By Graham Winter - posted Thursday, 18 July 2013

Can Tony Abbott take the step up to be a successful Prime Minister?

It says something that those words alone have been enough for Labor to resurrect Kevin Rudd at the cost of half the Cabinet in a last gasp attempt to avoid having to 'bear the unbearable.'

Predicting leadership success is a fraught science, however more leaders are undone by over-reaching on their strengths than by their weaknesses, so let's look at three of Abbott's strengths and then reflect on what they might mean for an Abbott-prime ministership.


The first strength is the unrelenting confidence in himself and his beliefs. Four years of Labor taunts are returned with even greater force but never detail. Abbott's confidence means he hasn't blinked and done a 'Hewson' by releasing detailed policies, or waivered even once from simple slogans that so irritate opponents. He will hold his nerve to the last.

Second is his Determined focus on what he believes is right and on what he wants to achieve. This is Abbott head down ploughing his bike into a southerly gale, or in Parliament relentlessly stopping anything and everything from boats to taxes. He refuses to celebrate success until the race is run; and through media coaching has shrunk as a target by getting better at limiting his message.

Third is the BOLDNESS to take anyone and anything head on. Abbott naturally moves towards a challenge be it physical or intellectual. It's hard to imagine any other Liberal going as hard on Rudd and Gillard as Abbott has done for what has effectively been a four year campaign.

For these reasons many pundits still expect Abbott to campaign relentlessly on the Government's failings and then settle into the Prime Ministership while Rudd or Shorten rebuild. But are they missing something?

Fundamentally, Tony Abbott scares a lot of people for three reasons firmly rooted in his strengths.

1. Arrogance


Instead of confidence they see arrogance and worry that it comes from a hidden belief system which weaves rigid religious beliefs with Howard's paternalistic 1950's community view (remember 'a bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband ….. at least he's employing someone while he is in fact a boss.')

Most political leaders claim strong religious beliefs and mentors from past eras but they balance this with a vision of a better future. Does Tony Abbott have a vision? He would no doubt say 'yes' but that's confidence in a belief system unexplained. When political leaders get accused of arrogance by middle Australia they don't last long no matter what their record or potential. Just ask Keating or Kennett.

2. Inability to connect:

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About the Author

Graham Winter is a three-time Chief Psychologist for the Australian Olympic Team, best-selling author and the founder of Think One Team International.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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