Barack Obama — Leadership Style & Principles
Are there a few tidbits that Barack Obama might share about his leadership style? What can we learn from Barack Obama’s leadership style? What does it take to be a successful leader or manager? More specifically, I wondered about what specific, practical, traits a person needs in order to motivate and change people’s behavior?
Barack Obama has always been a leader in a true sense.
Even before becoming the 44th US President and holding 2 terms at the office, Barack Obama was a prolific politician and was revered by the American public especially from his home state of Illinois and city of Chicago from where he was elected as Senator as well.
Barack Obama boosts of qualities and habits of effective leaders that made him a statesman and a leader of the highest repute across the globe.
Even countries not having friendly relations with the USA admire Mr. Obama much. That’s why I have decided to put forward seven leadership traits and principles of Barack Obama that makes him an excellent politician and lead a nation for 8 long years.
His leadership inspired a generation of young people to stand up and fight for what they believe in.
ImportantBarack Obama increases in characteristics and propensities for successful leaders that made him a politician and a leader of the most powerful country over the globe.
If you’re trying to lead a team or an organization through the current economic downturn, here are some lessons leaders can learn from Barack Obama.
Few years after leaving office, Barack Obama remains a symbol of change and hope for millions of people in the US. Here, we give seven pieces of advice for the next generation of leaders.
We Is Greater Than Me
You may have noticed when Obama delivers a speech, he talked with the first person plural “we” rather than “I”. This is somewhat distracting at first but when you will take a closer look, this is a clever and smart way to engage the audience.
When a person say we have done it together, everyone listening to it feels a part of the proceedings even if he was not involved in any step.
The act of using we is not just pure politics as some of you might comprehend but rather a unique way of making people involved in a conversation and then making them believe they have actually contributed something positive to a cause.
Everyone who has heard of the US elections would have come across this phrase coined by Obama, ‘Yes we can!’.
ImportantThis signifies a can-do attitude about Obama, inspiring his followers to believe that all things are possible despite the challenges. As a leader, we need to show this attitude too; to believe that it is possible first before our followers believe; to see the victory before anyone else sees it.
Obama possesses a seemingly charismatic nature which helped him attract the attention of Americans and foreigners alike.
He is considered as one of the best speech givers in the American presidential history that he can command the attention of a person with ADHD. Most notably, he can give speeches on race issues without coming across as catering only to the black people given his strong connection and ties with the black community.
A good leader also needs to set the direction. Anyone can steer the ship, but a leader must chart the course.
ImportantObama has given America an exciting, optimistic and inclusive vision of the future – his call for change has struck a chord. In highlighting that the difficulties faced are not insurmountable, he has won hearts and minds.
📚 Additional reading
Part of the job of a good leader is to tell a good story. You have to be able to ground whatever changes you think your organization, your community needs, in a longer story of where we have been and where we are going and where we are.
Don't Be Scared Of Change
Everyone started to talk about change after the Obama’s campaign became successful. It became the buzz word and was used across the board by virtually every person talking about some transformation, revolution, etc.
As we all know that changes play a significant role in improving our lives. They act as fuel for life.
ImportantRegular changes help us to adapt to new situations, new peoples, and a new environment. When the regular changes occur in our lives then it creates new opportunities for us which helps us to get success.
Change comes from the bottom up. Politicians and policy leaders like ideas and initiatives that have already gone through trial and error.
If you can advance an initiative or program at a community level and there is success and impact, it’s very likely your project will be referenced as a case study and implemented on a larger scale.
Taking the risk to change is not everyone’s cup of tea. That’s the reason why most successful people are the ones who take risks in their life and come out triumphant.
In his book the “The Audacity of Hope” Obama mentioned he took a big gamble by running for the presidency even some friends and aides advised otherwise in the wake that he terribly lost the primaries for the 2004 presidential race.
A leader is a person who is never satisfied with even his own work and always look to achieve more.
ImportantWith a host of things to do on his list, how did he turn an ending into a beginning for the next project dozens of times? That’s where his leadership skills come into effect and made all the difference.
📚 Additional reading
Be the change you want to see. The role of leadership in change management requires care, communication and commitment. As the leader, you are the bridge between your organization and the envisioned change.
Find The Middle Ground
When problems reached him in the White House, it was because they were unsolvable. He generally was being asked to choose between two bad options.
Good leaders do not dither. Once Obama felt he had all the facts at his fingertips, he tool a decision — based on rational and emotional content.
ImportantYou must be comfortable with the fact that you’re not going to get a 100% solution, and understand that you’re dealing with probabilities, so that you don’t get paralyzed trying to think that you’re going to actually solve this perfectly.
Flexibility leads to finding the best possible solution. If the situation you are facing changes, you have to be able to adapt quickly.
For example, Barack Obama showed an admirable ability to react and respond appropriately when the dominant issue in the presidential debates changed from national security to the financial crisis.
According to Obama, societies work better when everybody has a voice.
ImportantThere are certain core values that we should apply to everyone, regardless of what they look like or how they worship, or the station to which they are born.
Inclusive leaders are people-oriented, able to tap into the talents and motivations of their teams. They are patient, understanding, soft-spoken, and genuinely interested in others.
Obama was extremely inclusive in his campaign and people from all backgrounds came out to endorse him ranging from celebrities like Snoop Dog to Warren Buffet. He sought to ensure that all bases were covered.
📚 Additional reading
Inclusive leadership revolves around doing things with people, rather than to people. Providing employees with an opportunity to partake in decision making, may serve as a motivating power to the emergence of employees’ sense of belonging.
Listening Is Not Speaking
Obama is described as someone who is acutely sensitive to other people’s predicaments. His powerful messages of hope and possibility stem from listening to what Americans want.
By showing that he understands the problems that exist, he is able to position himself as in tune with the mood of the nation.
We are bombarded with messages and opinions—on social and traditional media, when we walk down the street, in our addiction to our phones. We live in a noisy world, so learning how to quiet the clutter and truly listen has never been harder or more important.
Communication is all about persuading an audience or person that a particular position is correct or appealing.
His entire campaign was a classic case of how to communicate with virtually each and every person in the USA who is eligible to vote, gain his confidence and send the message across in clear terms. And that’s why he was able to win the election in both 2008 and 2012 hands down.
When you speak, you repeat what you know. When you listen, you learn something new.
ImportantHealthy communication between leaders and team members establishes a foundation for trust. When your team members know that they will be heard, they are more apt to openly share their ideas and provide honest feedback.
The first step in increasing your leadership listening skills is to learn how to connect with your team.
To be able to listen, you must first be interested in your employees. People open up and are more honest when they feel their manager cares about them and the issue at hand.
📚 Additional reading
A good listener pays attention to what matters to people. A good listener is able to be of service to others in times of need. This is a time of need and listening will bring positive change to the nation.
Get The Facts From The Best
The decision-making culture that the leader has established hugely affects whether the right decisions are made. Begin with humility and recognize that others also gather facts that are worth taking into account.
Executives’ big egos are the root cause of most bad decisions. If you believe that you’re the smartest person in the room, then you aren’t as smart as you think you are.
Obama would begin gathering as much information as possible from intelligent sources. He’s old fashioned and believes in these enlightenment values like facts and reason and logic, making a winking reference to his shaky relationship to science or truth.
Leaders should develop critical thinking skills that incorporate the realities and potential impacts of their decisions. Those who seek truthful information will make fewer bad decisions.
ImportantThe number of executives who operate based on their gut instincts instead of facts is amazing. Let’s face it: leaders can get data and information to support any position they want to take.
Great leaders don’t guess — they gather facts. When we guess, our ego fills in the blanks, and that’s worse than not knowing at all.
Whoever is making the decision should focus on objective facts and gain as many of them as they can. It’s important to separate evidence and fact from opinion.
Exceptional leaders possess the self-control to put their biases and prejudices aside to seek the miraculous.
ImportantTo become a seeker of the truth, we must guide our rational thought process to examine the facts of any situation we are in. When we gather facts, we are better equipped to make reasonable and resourceful decisions.
📚 Additional reading
There’s a difference between evidence and truth. Hopefully, evidence leads us to truth. But like any data, evidence is subject to interpretation. The important thing is to be open enough to see and hear the evidence clearly so you can follow it to where it leads you.
What You Want Is What You Get
Barack Obama always has a firm belief that if something is right and if you think you are on the right track then you can influence others too and get your message across. This will take some time but eventually you’ll succeed.
Obama has a magnetic and likeable appeal, and seems brimming with energy to get things done.
ImportantHe is also consistent in his words and his actions, and this has helped him to make people believe not only that he is genuine, but also that he is on their side. You need to speak to the heart to capture people; speaking to the mind gets them to intellectually agree with you, but it will not necessarily get them to follow you.
Like a pair of old work boots, you just got to keep working. Perseverance is about staying focused and not loosing site of a given end goal, it’s also about repeating behavior.
If you can’t keep going beyond the average person’s stamina limit, then the sort of achievement that Obama just realized is most likely beyond your reach.
A leader is an individual who is never happy with even his own work and consistently hopes to accomplish more.
Take the case of Barack Obama. With a large group of activities on his rundown, how he transformed a consummation into a start for the following venture on many occasions? That is the place his authority aptitudes become effective and had a significant effect.
To be an effective leader, you need the right motivation. Is it the money or the prestige you care about, or do you sincerely want to inspire people to do their best?
ImportantI look at leadership as an honor and a vocation. If, in your heart, you feel leadership is your destiny and how you’ll make a difference in this world, then you are certainly starting from the right place.
Seize The Day
Turbulent times are an opportunity for leaders to show their greatness. Barack Obama has grabbed the opportunity to fulfill his potential. Just follow his example and make things happen for yourself.
In a crisis, leaders need a temperament that doesn’t overheat under pressure. Barack Obama showed extraordinary composure and remained cool, calm and collected.
ImportantTaking a risk, even a minor one, isn’t an easy task. That is the motivation behind why best individuals are the ones who face challenges throughout their life and come out as a winner.
High Energy is probably tied to not wanting to fail or possessing a mind that sees beyond the immediate needs of a given project or campaign.
Some people have it and others don’t. It’s not about the right diet or 10 hours of sleep, rather it seems to be a genetic thing, like a “Runner’s High”, that allows high achievers to keep going on a project, term paper, or political campaign.
When you’re in a leadership position, there will also be tension in managing your work and family life.
ImportantPeople are looking for leaders who understand this tension and manage through it. Good leaders are ones who know how to surround themselves with smart people, build teams, delegate, and prioritize.
Leaders have a sense of finding what changes they need to make in their lifestyle and the strategies they need to develop so as to work towards their goals.
And that is where they invest their energy instead of simply focusing on the said goal. If the goal is a seed engrained in your mind, you do not need to worry about the plant when you begin, but you should definitely grab some compost and tools and get ready to dig.
📚 Additional reading
Barack Obama’s two terms have ended now but his legacy will go on. The seven traits mentioned here are just a brief look at how leaders can turn around the fortune of a nation for the better and lead them.
Barack Obama has his flaws, but this certainly didn’t erase the fact that his leadership style made him one of the most remarkable presidents of America.
You can relate these traits to any great leader and don’t be surprised after you’ll notice something similar to what I have described here in this blog post.
Being a leader is not a matter of having your name up in lights, making speeches or corralling power at the top. It’s identifying the power in other people and unleashing it.
You’ve got to give folks enough room and ownership to be able to figure stuff out, and by doing that, it means they’re going to be making mistakes. That’s part of that process of development.
Not everyone can be President of the United States. What I realized is you don’t have to be to lead people and make change.
However big or small your corner of the world, think about how you can make it better. Listen, be curious, and make change. Try things. Don’t be afraid to fail. And, most of all, do what inspires you.