The top 4 attributes looked for in leaders: (in this order)
The order that people look for these attributes in presidential candidates (in my opinion):
Honesty: This is by far the attribute looked for most often by people when selecting a leader to follow. "We want our leaders to be honest because their honesty is also a reflection upon our own honesty." "Honesty is tied to values and ethics. We appreciate people who know where they stand on important principles."
The reason Honesty is last in presidential candidates is because honesty is tied to values and ethics, which it seems that the candidates try hard to keep out of the campaign. Currently, it is popular opinion that values and ethics are deeply personal and should not be forced on others. The general population knows there is an ethical division in this country and neither side wants the beliefs of the other side forced upon them, so they get downplayed in the election campaigns. Additionally, honesty is not what most politicians are known for. Many of them (if not all) often promise things to get elected that they do not/cannot follow through with when in office. The general population is somewhat used to the lies and boasting of politicians and we know that not everything they promise will come to pass.
Forward-looking: "[Leaders need] to have a point of view about the future envisioned for [the country], and they need to be able to connect that point of view to the hopes and dreams of their constituents." "Expecting leaders to be forward-looking doesn't mean constituents want their leaders to set out on a solitary vision quest; people want to be engaged in the search for a meaningful future."
It is difficult for each of the candidates to connect their vision of the future for this country when the voters are sharply divided in their hopes and dreams. The best they can do is pick a set of hopes and dreams and hope that a majority of the people buy into them. But will either of the candidates engage the people in helping form this future, or are the candidates set in their vision and unwilling to change and adapt it because of their "party line" or "promises"? Who will be bi-partisan in the end? Both? Neither?
Competent: "[The consituents] must see the leader as having relevant experience and sound judgement." "Leadership competence refers to the leader's track record and the ability to get things done."
It is obvious that this is the area in which McCain is attacking Obama. In the end, they are BOTH competent, but in different ways. Neither has run a country, but both have been in office and have a track record to look at. It seems that "sound judgement" is a reletive term, so both of them and their followers claim that they have sound judgement and the other one does not. I guess it is up to the voter to decide what "sound judgement" is (hopefully we will not rely on the media to define this for us, because the media is incapable of unbiased reporting.)
That's a good chunk of stuff to chew on for a while...