Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Credible Political Leaders: Reflections on the X-Factor and Beyond

Frank Hendriks

Full Text: PDF



In this paper, the crucial factors behind credible political leadership are investigated, distinguishing between the X-factor, the Y-factor, and the Z-factor. The X-, Y-, and Z-factors relate to appeal, persuasion, and competence, or to put it quite simply, to images, words, and deeds. The paper connects to the relevant literature on leadership, credibility, charisma, rhetoric and dramaturgy, finding an empirical frame of reference in the Netherlands and other countries. Ultimately, a credible politician is compared to a tightrope walker, mastering a balance pole with the X-factor of appeal at one end, the Z-factor of competence at the other end, and, as their essential connector in the middle, the Y-factor of conviction.

Keywords: political leadership – credible governance – appeal – persuasion – competency – charisma – rhetoric – dramaturgy


Bibliography: Hendriks, Frank: Credible Political Leaders: Reflections on the X-Factor and Beyond, PCS, 2-2013, pp. 158-180.