Updated: Feb 23
Have you ever heard of the Granddaughter Test?
This comes from a story about two voters arguing over political candidates. Imagine two men, both old enough to be grandfathers.
Grandpa: Why won't you support this candidate?
Grand-dad: He doesn't pass the granddaughter test.
Grandpa: What do you mean?
Grand-dad: My granddaughter is going to ask me, and I have to honestly explain to her, in terms she will understand, my reasons for supporting someone. If I can't do that with a candidate, that candidate doesn't get my support.
It's a surprising exchange of traditional wisdom, really - the test to see if a candidate is worthy and competent and honourable isn't a test for the eyes of the elders, but a test from the eyes of a child.
The adult perspective can rationalize any political policy or any political expediency. But how does it feel when a child hears you? Children are listening and may likely repeat what you have to say.
My wife and I watched the movie Bombshell this weekend. The movie illustrates some of the political events from 2015-2016 and some of the inner workings of Fox News at the time. When things like ambition and money and power and political victory are valued more than honour and truth and competence, then dominance and abuse can become the accepted culture of a work environment (or a political arena, for that matter).
But the unquestioned nature of strong people turns out to be very questionable. It's not about being strong. Often enough, that's the wrong thing to focus on or look for in our leaders.
The movie reminded me of the Granddaughter Test. When I first heard of this test, I actually imagined something very different. For whatever reason, my mind imagined a granddaughter locked in a private office interviewing for a job with some powerful man. How comfortable would I be if my own granddaughter was left alone with the wrong person, maybe a morally weak person, in a situation like that?
So here's my take on the Granddaughter Test with two distinct parts.
Imagine your granddaughter is 8-10 years old. Explain to her why you chose your political candidate in honest terms she will understand. And after that, does she still look at you and think you are honourable and noble? How would you feel if later you heard her agree with your opinion and repeat your rationalizing to someone else?
Now imagine your granddaughter is 18-20 years old. She tells you she has an opportunity to meet your political candidate. She will be in a locked office alone with your candidate for 1-2 hours. How does this news make you feel?
Tell me if you get a chance to try this out. Or, do you have your own version of a Granddaughter Test for leaders and political candidates?