What Traits Make a Great Member of Congress?

Whether we keep track of politics or not, we all probably have some idea of who we see as our ideal representative. Some may mention honesty, empathy, or charisma. Others would list intelligence, sincerity, and wisdom. But are those traits what truly shape the figure of an ideal, action-ready member of Congress?

Many imagine a dignified knight in shining armor, graciously protecting the rights and values of those who need it the most. In a perfect world, that would be the case, but we’re living in a reality where those traits are indeed cherished and desirable but are definitely not enough to face and succeed in the harsh world of politics.

It is a cold-blooded and unforgivable environment, where you need to stay constantly aware of yourself and other politicians, be ready for the unexpected, and maintain a clear vision of what you represent, regardless of external pressure. To survive, politicians need to show more than kindness, truthfulness, and empathy. It requires strength, integrity, and accountability to have a voice that other congressmen will listen to.

That being said, let’s take a closer look at the traits that shape a respectful representative and reflect the real-life demands.

Self-awareness

We expect every Congressperson entering the world of politics to be focused on maintaining their personal image, keeping calm during live-streamed debates, and staying resilient in the face of accusations and rumors from other politicians or the mass media. That can be easier said than done.

Self-awareness is essential to become a great leading politician, as it teaches you how to control, understand, and reflect on your emotions and mental states. It allows politicians to be humble listeners who take criticism respectfully and considerably. Still, it takes time, effort, and many failures before they can achieve this.

It’s crucial to acknowledge how individual values and habits can affect your and others’ actions and thoughts. People who are focused on building their self-awareness tend to be more perceptive, responsive, adaptive, and empathetic. They also improve their stress management, decision-making and, as a result, inspire others to do the same. Being self-aware leads to developing deeper introspection and helps improve self-control.

We don’t want representatives carrying the burden of the Dunning-Kruger effect, do we? But hold on a second, Dunning-Kruger what? It’s highly correlated with low self-awareness cognitive bias, where people tend to subjectively overestimate their abilities, even if objectively they lack both expertise and skills in a specific area.

When applied to politics, it is deadly. Thinking and promising that you’re able to deliver often leads to many disappointments and broken promises. We’ve all seen this too many times with leaders we’ve placed our trust in.

Determination

Determined individuals always find ways to get their needs met, overcome challenges, and learn from failures. Moreover, they recognize that they can support and influence other people, and with self-awareness built-in, they don’t wish to control them. When a politician is a goal-oriented, well-organized go-getter, it drives inspiration and arouses confidence in voters.

Politicians must understand that there are valuable lessons in defeat, and they need to stay persistent and resilient in order to achieve their goals. The ability to manage and embrace the fear of failing is a crucial mindset for achieving success.

Perseverance is the fuel that allows Congresspeople to plan their strategies, stick to their values, and look at challenges head-on every time.

Integrity

Many see integrity as wholeness or consistency – it simply means that you do what you say and say what you think. Others interpret integrity as honesty, reliability, or incorruptibility. Some might highlight the importance of lawfulness by following set rules, laws, and morals. However we define it, as simple as it sounds, it’s much harder to implement. As much as noble virtues and grandiose ideals can inspire us, they rarely reflect real-life needs.

So, how can politicians maintain integrity when surrounded by ambitious, often fierce, stone-hearted competitors? The most crucial part here is that they uphold their ethical and moral principles and avoid deviation regardless of external pressure and circumstances.

The final question is should they be better than us or similar to us? Both. The balance is the key. Research shows that voters, compared to themselves, wish the politicians had better-developed leadership qualities. Still, when it comes to personality traits, it turns out we rather see someone similar with who we can identify. Which makes sense, right?

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