Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Leadership Lessons from Barack Obama

I stayed up till the BBC confirmed that he had won Ohio. That meant it was in the bag. I went to bed feeling relieved. This, after all, was the country that elected George Bush only four years before.

Over breakfast I heard his acceptance speech in which he laid out the palate of American history through the life of a 106 year old supporter. This woman had been born just one generation after the abolition of slavery and now was witnessing the first black president.

Now the attention is on what Obama will do with office. One cannot help but feel this is going to be a very different kind of Presidency. The engagement he has created in the campaign will, I believe, find its way into the way he uses the office going forward.

I believe Obama won because he is the most outstanding candidate since JFK. What sets him apart is his leadership. The lesson of Obama is that a leader must both embody and stand up for particular values. He or she must also make people feel that what is happening now is about them - not about the leader - as Obama did in his acceptance speech.

One think I think Obama understands is that leadership is about raising the sights of others. This in turn motivates real change. Presidents often come in with strong ideals - like Carter and Clinton - then don't have the traction to make good of the office. By contrast, Obama grasps that if he is to succeed as President he needs to mobilise people and use the office to reach out, rather in the way he did as a candidate, to set an agenda for people to follow.

Obama is taking office at the turning point in US economic power, at the end of its period of military dominance and at a time when the world is facing its biggest ever challenge, that of the environment.

Ironically, America has elected somebody that could, if we all had a vote, be President of the World. God Bless America.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Craig - well you are spot on. Hopefully we can all work together and create more positivity and confidence around humanity's potentiality.