I’d never quite worried about the striding walk of presidents and ‘executives’ until recently. I started noticing them some two years ago because of a news item that drew my attention to the walk of a president. This president was walking with some foreigners he had gone to beg from. (It was rumored that he personally has billions of dollars worth of investments in their country, and the news said that he wanted some mere millions to add to the debt stock of his country).
As he strode with his shoulders jutting out and butt shaking after his legs, I noticed that he walked faster than his hosts. And as they struggled to keep up with him, the ones closest to him had rather disapproving and incredulous looks on their faces. Looks that said…. ‘is this guy for real?’ That is when I got mighty irritated. I couldn’t stop being irritated by the loping walk I saw for days.
I noticed after that, that certain types of leaders tend to show the long loping strides of a person who is not hurrying and yet must cover much distance. They elongate their legs, and propel themselves forward like the lion swinging its waist (as insignificant as that waist is), pushing forward its mane and exhibiting running in walking. You will notice it especially with the civilian heads of state who have to keep up with military speed beside them when they appear in public with armed persons.
If you don’t believe me, just try and watch out for that walk now. The leaders who display it include those who have to contend with a fawning immediate public they are not sure how to connect to. This type of leaders include the reluctantly and un-reluctantly on-show achievers. The ones on parade simply by reason of the role they play in influencing the direction of society and its resources. Those who are compelled to ‘exude confidence’, and appear to know what they are about even when they are not sure if they really do (Really, is it possible to know everything about everything?)
I fear that there is a paradoxical mix of the instincts of ‘the predator’ and ‘the hunted’ that bring on this walk – apart from the uncertainty of disconnection to those watching them walk. The lope and stride elongate fiercest where the need to conjure up an atmosphere of being in control is strongest. This walk may also be related to confusion about what is right rather than just needing to hurry. I am really worried about what internally drives this lion walk.
Compare it with the walk of nurturing leaders – like a teacher leading children, a mother herding them out of a car, or a coach leading the group to some place to build their capacity. The teacher, mother and coach kinds of leaders run in tight little steps beside the group, constantly looking sideways or behind them to check that every member of the group is keeping up in the right direction. They talk directly to different members as they walk with them, and reflect the attention of the shepherd who is anxious about the safety of the ones they are walking with – rather than looking up and striding ahead of the group. I think it is this encircling kind of walk that reflects a healthy kind of leadership. Not the walk of the strong one whose power extends beyond those they are with. The encircling leaders are only too aware of the vulnerability of those they are with. No wonder the greatest lion is also called a lamb.