4 Leadership Lessons from Jair Bolsonaro

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro gestures before a ceremony of lowering the national flag for the night, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia, Brazil

Brazil has had many leaders over the centuries, but few have become as controversial as Jair Bolsonaro. He is a retired soldier and politician who rules as the 38th president of the nation following his election into office in 2019. He has been able to gather millions of admirers from within and outside Brazil, and he has the same number of haters and detractors. The controversy aside, there are some important lessons to be learned from Bolsonaro as a leader. The essence of this piece is to discuss the leadership features of the Brazilian leader. 


Bolsonaro was a soldier long before he turned to politics. It was in the year 1977 that he did his graduation from Agulhas Negras Military Academy. From there, he would serve in the parachutist and field artillery units of the army. He would burst into prominence in the mid-1980s when he wrote in a publication a protest against the ridiculous wages for military officers. the authorities did not find his outspoken nature favorable at all, so he was arrested, and he was thrown into detention for 15 days. 


His life is like one long string of trials, tribulations, and all kinds of challenges. Following his detention in 1986, Bolsonaro faced accusations regarding the planting of bombs in army units. He denied the accusation, but he was still charged, and he faced a conviction by a court, but he would be acquitted by the Brazilian Supreme Military Court in 1988. He was triumphant and would later shift to the reserve as an army captain. 


When Bolsonaro left for the army reserve, he did not give up on life but decided to take it a notch higher. He decided to join politics and ran for office on the Rio de Janeiro City Council after he would be elected as one of the members of the Christian Democratic Party. His ambitious streak never ended with that role and in 1990, he was elected to the lower chamber of the Congress, and he would be reelected six times. This allowed him to not just gather extensive experience in the halls of politics but was also able to garner influence. All through his 27 years as a congressman, he was able to vocalize his massive support for national conservatism. 

His ambitiousness was why he decided to run for the presidency of Brazil in March 2016 as a member of the Social Christian Party. He would later leave the party two years later to become a member of the Social Liberal Party and launched his presidential campaign properly. It was a very fierce competition, but this is a man who never gives up. 


Bolsonaro is never shy to stand alone even when his stance is not popular with many. His confidence stands out and that explains why he is one of the loudest opponents of homosexuality and same sex marriage. He is also against the liberalization of drugs, abortion, secularism, and affirmative action. Even though these are very conservative views, he still believes that Brazil should have a much closer relationship with the United States of America and the State of Israel. When it comes to foreign policies, he is an advocate of pro-market and liberal policies. 

He is seen as a very divisive and controversial politician with polarizing views, but he is never afraid to go it all alone. He is a populist and far-right politician, but he does not care about critics. It takes a lot of confidence for anyone to take the stand all alone but that is what real leaders do even if there are severe consequences. Confidence is the attribute of an excellent leader, and you cannot be in a position of leadership as a weakling.  

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