The extraordinary relationship between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama has been vividly a bold one in global relations. There were many speculations around their exceptional friendship between these two world leaders. The key reason for their ‘bromance’ was their personalities that clicked beautifully.
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With every meeting, this relationship grew stronger. While Modi describes their friendship as being on a “special wavelength”, Obama terms PM Modi as “his partner and friend”. Unfortunately, this bromance is set to end soon! With the US presidential election less than two months away, now is an opportune time to assess which presidential candidate is a better match for India’s Prime Minister. Is it Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?
Behavioural science has proven a basic imperative about love and relationships. Contrary to popular myth, opposite personalities don’t work out romantically long term. Research proves that when both people have similar personality traits, the chances of real love are multiplied. This is because when people psychologically align through personality, they experience similar emotional reactions to events. Thus they connect, authentically engage and bond. So let’s identify and examine the core personality trait of Modi, Clinton and Trump and then predict how these energies play out.
Personality traits of Modi, Clinton and Trump
Modi’s core trait is ‘emotional stability’. He is balanced, centred, calculating and ‘head driven’. Rational decisions are guided by available facts. Modi understands behavioural economics; his foreign policy style is to personally connect and be transparent about advocating and positioning for his country.
Hillary Clinton’s core trait is ‘conscientious’. She is hard working, meticulous, and guarded. Clinton is ‘head driven’ but slightly different from Modi. Clinton practices strong self-discipline. So, her foreign policy will take the form of a process, driven by aligning priorities. On the other hand, Trump’s foreign policy would be driven by winning the best deal. Trump’s core trait is ‘extroversion’. He is temperamental, dominating, and forceful. He is ‘heart driven’ and decisions are emotional based upon his principles, values, and extenuating circumstances.
You can argue that Modi possesses the emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills to cooperate effectively with any world leader. And you would be right. But, recall that this article is about fondness, not just getting along. Cooperation is not as powerful as collaboration. Innovation in foreign policy requires leaders from both countries to ask deep questions and listen well to understand both sides of the issue. Without deep and thoughtful communication, there can never be a long term, mature relationship.
Best match based on personality
Based upon behavioural science, the answer is clear. Clinton is the best match for Modi. Why? Personality! Both leaders are fundamentally head driven; rational, non-emotional, with a grounded and lower ego need for recognition. Both leaders will allow each other to speak freely and authentically. Power and winning at all costs won’t be an issue between them. Their relationship will be about creating a process that supports agreed upon metrics, goals and results. The natural alignment of personalities will create excellent chemistry. Modi and Clinton will make fine partners on the global stage.
In contrast, Trump’s behaviour is driven by the ego; he needs to be in the limelight. Emphatically, Trump has stated that he is ‘strong’; his only goal is to ‘win’. His true goals are not tied to metrics or results. Trump demands control, dominance and ego gratification. We are sorry to say this, but Trump would, unfortunately, find Modi boring. There is not going to be a sliver of natural chemistry between them.
For a personality like Trump, there is a match too. If you remember Trump has shared, quite publically, his admiration for Vladimir Putin. What is really happening here is an immature kind of love; Trump is projecting his ego onto Putin. In other words, what Trump admires about Putin is what he most admires about himself. Trump would enjoy engaging with Putin, not for the purpose of collaboration but for the thrill of the competition.
Modi, being mature and psychologically advanced, will be polite and gracious, to whoever wins in November. But, if it is Trump who wins, we predict that Modi will turn more often to other global leaders who demonstrate respect and who value deep strategic relationships. It is quite certain that Indo-US love affair will continue regardless of who wins.
This article is written by Dr. George Watts and Laurie Blazek. Watts is Chairman of Top Line Talent, an online education firm that teaches interpersonal and consultative selling skills. Blazek is CEO of Top Line Talent. She is a former senior global banker. She now directs TLT in strategy, sales and channel partnerships.