Politics in our country is going through turbulent times; political polarization or the difficulty in reaching consensus contribute to the erosion of the credibility of this activity, which is also being attacked by the unavoidable challenge entailed by the pandemic. At a time like this, when the public perception of our leaders impacts daily on a mood of fatigue, we wonder how this perception is built. In other words, what is reputation for a political leader, how is it measured and how does it affect their results.

Reputation is a value judgment that a group makes based on the expectations it has about a person or institution and that has an effect on the decisions that each person makes. Transposed to the political sphere, these decisions have to do with voting intentions.

Once it is clear to us the concept we are starting from, we move on to see how to break it down into measurable elements. It should be noted that the key to this lies in making the leap from the emotional to the rational. In politics, we often talk about our leaders in terms of “like” or “dislike”, but in order to assign names and numbers to these emotions, we need to apply academic metrics in trust and political leadership that allow us to assess reputation beyond the intuition of “good” and “bad”.

This is what we have done for our Thinking Heads Political Leader Reputation Model, working on scientifically endorsed metrics that have allowed us to measure reputation, as well as to identify the levers that serve to improve it.

Once we have made this leap from the emotional to the tangible, the next task is to distinguish between the emotional variables (credibility, admiration and trust) and the rational variables that make up reputation. What are these rational variables? We find that the variables on which the weight of reputation rests are leadership, if they demonstrate attractive and inspiring ideas, a forward-looking approach and generation of interest and adhesion; integrity, which has to do with sincerity, reliability and honesty; competence, related to intelligence and insight, the ability to reach consensus and the capacity to manage policies; and finally human values, an interest in people’s problems, goodwill and accessibility.

In order to take the pulse of the Spanish society and find out what its perception of the main political leaders is, we distributed a questionnaire that allowed us to examine the previously mentioned items on real cases: 5 national leaders, 17 regional leaders and six mayors, with a total of 5,806 cases collected.

Among the main results obtained, we find surprising data, such as the fact that no national leader “passes” the test.

Do you want to know all the details and results? You can download the study hereunder.

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