What Do Donald Trump And Justin Trudeau Have In Common With Hitler?


What is it that makes a regular politician into a successful leader?

During a time when Western politics are as fascinating as ever, it often begs the question, how do these certain individuals become such successful leaders? People want to know what makes a once ordinary person destined for success. Maybe some even want to know how they can emulate that for themselves. So, what is the most important trait needed in a successful politician?


It’s no secret that Canada’s new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has no shortage of charisma. Hollywood hair aside, a large factor that aided in his majority win was his ability to compel voters to believe in his vision for a renewed Canadian identity. By communicating with emotion, he developed a connection with voters based upon a shared Canadian identity. In an era of shady politics, Canadian voters were looking for a Prime Minister with a new approach. With a previous Prime Minister who emulated a robot (I’m looking at you, Stephen Harper), Trudeau is seemingly Canada’s saving grace. A large factor to attribute his success was his fearlessness in terms of emotional connectedness and his ability to be open with Canadians.

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Toronto Centre Campaign Office Opening with Chrystia Freeland and Justin Trudeau, October 2013. Courtesy of Joseph Morris.

On the other hand, it’s no surprise that Donald Trump has a massive political following. Due to his outspokenness, Trump has been able to muster up quite a large amount of political support. Although many of us may question the intellectual merits of our fellow Americans, Trump is still considered successful in his ability to persuade voters.  It is his ability to be his authentic self (though we may hate him) that connects him to voters. He sees America as lost, or fallen off course, and he’s taken it upon himself to “Make American Great Again” if he is elected.

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Donald Trump speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Courtesy of Gage Skidmore.

What many millennials’ likely don’t know is that charisma has long been an important trait when it comes to being a successful leader. Less than 100 years ago, it had very deadly consequences. Hitler was a widely successful charismatic leader. His vision was a radical one, but most charismatic leaders believe in significant social change. Hitler was able to convince a large majority to elect him by creating a sense of shared beliefs. He then used his power and charismatic charm to convince the SS and the Gestapo to carry out his tragic plans for Germany.  He did this all through the power of charm and persuasion.

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Adolf Hitler in Munich, Germany in 1931. Courtesy of Recuerdos de Pandora.

Charisma is what these three successful leaders have in common.

So, what makes a successful leader?

  1. The ability to envision a better, or radically different future for their country.
  2. Confidence and the belief in their own individual ability to carry their country to success, or their definition of success. No doubts in their ambitions.
  3. The ability to attract followers and supporters who share the same philosophies, morals, and beliefs as themselves.
  4. A personality that conveys their commitment and investment in their beliefs and visions. They aren’t afraid to show their dedication to their cause, no matter if that means being radical or boisterous.
  5. The ability to envision significant change and the promise of enacting it.
  6. A charismatic leader needs to be able to walk the talk, so that their words are closely followed by substantive actions. This is part of what gives charismatic leaders much of their clout.