Leadership Impressions of a President

It’s not every day you get to meet a sitting president. In fact, this was my first.  His Excellency, President Hage Geingob, has been in office since 2014 and is the third president of Namibia since its independence in 1994.

I’m not sure what I expected from a president, but I would say my top three impressions of this leader was that he displayed calmness, wit, and optimism.

He spoke slowly, choosing words carefully, and made deliberate pauses that either emphasized a point, or made people listen more carefully about what he had to say next. I think pacing in a settling like this is important, and sets a strong ton for the type of leader he tries to be. What’s interesting to me is also the contrast between the way he spoke and how his advisors spoke. Both of them had more quickened pace, more statistics to share, and more structured rigidity to their points than the president. It was as if they were always on point to persuade, rather than tell, and is an interesting contrast to the president’s ability to command and tell.

There’s always a perception of leaders at this level to be serious and regal, but I do think that the best of these leaders can preserve this distant image while appearing witty and approachable in person. It’s a pretty delicate line to walk – being approachable yet elevated, commanding respectable yet perceived as friendly. It’s a good case study in the types of leadership and what works or doesn’t work for a person, an organization, or an entire state.

The leadership characteristics of its president suggest to me that Namibia is a country that appreciates a strong commanding leader. It values success, has a strong sense of justice, and puts a lot of value of relationship that are built over time. Given what we’ve seen of the two countries, I’d be very curious to see how this might contrast with the demeanors of the president of Botswana.

Visit with His Excellency

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