Ideal Qualities of a Successful Diplomats

achamila press

A Diplomat needs to Possess an abiding interest in and passion for the art and craft of diplomacy and international relations. If this subject matter does not feed you, you do not have a compelling instinct to learn about the world, pursue a different profession in your career

• *A Diplomat must Demonstrate an analytical temperament*

Our current culture encourages ideological predisposition and rigidity. We are invited to have an opinion without first having a full command of the facts. Resist the temptation to prescribe before you analyse. Dean Acheson understood how hard this is, “I was a frustrated schoolteacher, persisting against overwhelming evidence to the contrary in the belief that the human mind could be moved by facts and reason”

• *A Diplomat must write well and quickly*

Nurture your ability to rapidly produce quality prose. Read and learn from great writers

• *A Diplomat must be verbally fluent and concise*

George Shultz observes that listening is an underrated way of acquiring knowledge. Pay attention, speak only when necessary and keep your comments brief. These are not qualities highly prized in academia.

• *A Diplomat must ensure meticulous attention to detail*

Whether your work is going to the President or Prime Minister, to your immediate superiors or to your peers, each deserves a flawless product. Don’t accept less of yourself. “If you don’t understand the details o”

• *A Diplomat must be a tough and effective negotiator*

Getting to yes is not the objective of a diplomat. Begin instead with what best serves your country’s national interests and then seek to achieve a negotiating outcome as close to those requirements as possible. Adopt clear red lines and do not compromise beyond them. And as James Baker advises, “Never let the other fellow set the agenda”

• *A Diplomat must build long-term physical and mental stamina*

With the exercise of power and responsibility comes continuous 12-16 hour days, filled with pressure and stress. Be fit

• *A Diplomat must accept dangerous assignments*

Diplomats frequently serve in menacing locales, sometimes die in the line of duty. From Libya to Iraq to Afghanistan and beyond, this is not a line of work only conducted in rarefied surroundings. Reflect on your degree of anticipated personal courage before entering this profession

• *A Diplomat must be loyal and truthful to his or her boss*

Never question outside of government a decision made further up your bureaucratic chain of command, no matter how much you disagree with it. Once such a decision is made, your professional duty is to try your best to implement it. There is nothing courageous in disavowing your Administration’s decision in whispered tones in social settings. And never misrepresent or lie to your official superiors, no matter how expedient it might appear at the moment. If you do so, you should be fired

• *A Diplomat must always cultivate policy resilience*

If other general never lost a battle, most generals do – and so will you. Expect periodic policy defeats and energetically move on to the next challengeM

• *A Diplomat must acquire relevant work experience*

Invest time, energy and effort in your own professional development.  Don’t thirst for too much power and responsibility too soon.  In diplomacy – as in most endeavours – experience is a crucial component of success.  As Renaissance painters demanded, apprenticeship is a necessary step in professional enhancement.  Would you hire a plumber who was academically well versed in water distribution, but had never installed a pipe

• *A Diplomat must know his or her political ideologies*

No matter how flattering a foreign policy job proposal may be, ask yourself whether your ideology is compatible with that of the offering institution.  Not to do so is to invite endless professional pain and torment

• *A Diplomat must take advantage of luck when he or she encounter it*

When Napoleon was asked what kind of generals he looked for, he responded “lucky ones.”  Be ready when events in the world provide policy opportunities you can exploit.  Getting on a personal professional wave you can ride – and that you want to ride – is also importantly a matter of good fortune.  Relentless attention to the other fourteen characteristics enumerated here will put you in the best position to partially make your own luck in your career

Best Regards,
H. E. Dr. Lawson Victor Tom,
The Kingdom of New Atlantis Continental Ambassador to Africa and Nigeria Ambassador

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