President Barack Obama's Leadership Styles
The office of the American presidency is a multi-faceted occupation that requires many kinds of leadership styles. This article briefly discusses some of the hats worn by American President Barack Obama during the two terms of his presidency.
The article focuses on three broad leadership styles:
The opinion polls allow you to rate how you think President Obama has done in these areas and how he has performed overall during his eight years in office. Please feel free to participate.
Before the election, President Barack Obama attracted the attention of Americans and foreigners alike with a seemingly charismatic nature. A charismatic leader has an uncanny ability to draw others to his side and move them to accomplish a cause bigger than themselves. A charismatic approach is transformational if it invokes a permanent change in the people who embrace the leader's vision.
During his first term, President Obama wooed at least some to his vision by showing the potential to make a huge difference in both domestic and foreign affairs. In his second term, he seemed more aloof and demonstrated less ability to draw others to his agenda. Some even feel that he did not live up to full expectations. Yet, Lisa Calhoun in an article on Inc.Com demonstrated that Obama indeed checked many items off his presidential bucket list, regardless of whether some liked what he did and others did not.
Ranking President Obama's Leadership: Transformational-Charismatic
During his two terms in office, do you believe President Obama modeled Transformational-Charismatic Leadership?
Cross-Cultural and Global
Under the Bush Administration, America's image lost much of its shine. This was mostly due to the unilateral, ethnocentric foreign policy espoused by Bush and Cheney. While not taking America's safety needs for granted, President Obama formulated a more cross-cultural approach to the world, thinking not only of the US's interests but also the interests of the other nations. In his first six months on the job, President Obama traveled abroad more than any other president at that point of his administration and seemed to pay careful attention to cultural norms in the places where he traveled.
After his first year, the President's attempts to be more conciliatory to the Middle East, China, and Russia were welcomed by the world, and he received the Nobel Peace Prize. In other trips in the subsequent years, Obama was often criticized for kowtowing to foreign officials, which critics saw as a sign of weakness. Still, President Barack Obama did well to learn the greeting customs of even small nations like Cambodia to show respect to their Heads of State. In his final year of office, he visited Vietnam, where he took time to eat in a small roadside café, demonstrating a sense of cultural humility.
However, some believe the President's policies toward the Middle East helped bring about the Arab Spring, which resulted in the overthrow of at least a few pro-American regimes. It appeared that Obama and the Department of the Security of State did not have a plan in place to help these countries after the overthrows.
As a result, after Obama's eight years in the White House, there are a number of hot spots around the globe that some people attribute to his lack of leadership in the world. Those hot spots included Syria, the rebel group ISIS's march through northern Iraq, Russia threatening invasion into eastern Ukraine, and China's many disputes about territorial waters in the East and South China Seas. It is interesting that in his final year of office, President Obama took a trip to Vietnam to talk about the potential supplying of arms to Vietnam to help protect the shipping lanes in the South China Sea.
Ranking President Obama's Leadership: Cross-Cultural
During his two terms in office, do you believe President Obama modeled Cross-Cultural Leadership?
Was He Effective on Foreign Policy?
During his two terms in office, did President Obama's approach to the world and foreign policy prove to be effective?
During his first five years in office, Mr. Obama not only displayed culturally sensitive and transformational leadership, he also responded to various situations using different types of leadership models. In this way, he modeled what has been described as contingency leadership.
When traveling abroad, Obama was conciliatory, humble, and apt to listen before speaking. When he faced the failing automobile industry, he did not mince words but stood tough to call for necessary changes. This was seen in how he forced GM and Chrysler to accept new MPG standards and pare down their long-time commitment to NASCAR. When Congress refused to work with him, he chose to go it alone and legislate by executive order. He risked potential impeachment to stick to his values and principles and accomplish what he set out to accomplish, even if many thought it was wrong for the country.
Under the heat of foreign and economic troubles, Obama worked hard to accomplish what he promised, understanding that each second he waited could have meant a lost home or job for another group of citizens. Whether one liked what he did or not, Obama did not shy away from the challenges that faced him when he accepted the job as president.
Ranking President Obama's Leadership: Contingency-Situational
During his two terms in office, do you believe President Obama modeled Contingency-Situational Leadership?
Which Type of Leadership Was His Strength?
After two terms in office, what type of leadership do you think President Obama excelled in most?
President Obama's Personaility Profile
Sarah Moore and Angela Rodgers, students at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn., did a research project on “The Personality Profile of President Barack Obama: Leadership Implications” and presented the results at the 6th annual Minnesota Private Colleges Scholars at the Capitol event, Feb. 19, in the State Capitol rotunda, St. Paul, Minn.
The profile revealed that Barack Obama is ambitious and confident; modestly dominant and self-asserting; accommodating, cooperative, and agreeable; somewhat outgoing and congenial; and relatively conscientious. The combination of ambitious and accommodating patterns in Obama’s profile suggests a “confident conciliator” personality composite.
Leaders with this personality prototype, though self-assured and ambitious, are characteristically gracious, considerate, and benevolent. They are energetic, charming, and agreeable, with a special talent for settling differences and a preference for mediation and compromise over force or coercion as a strategy for resolving conflict. They are driven primarily by a need for achievement, but also have substantial affiliation needs and a modest need for power.
The study offers an empirically based framework for anticipating Obama’s performance as chief executive. The following general predictions regarding Obama’s likely leadership style can be inferred from his personality profile:
- Ambitious, self-assured, gracious, considerate
- Preference for mediation and compromise over force or coercion as a strategy for resolving conflict
- High need for achievement; moderate need for affiliation; low need for power
- More pragmatic than ideological
- More task- than relationship oriented
- Likely to act as a strong advocate in his administration, using his powers of persuasion to advance his policy vision
- Preference for gathering information from a variety of sources rather than relying solely on advisors and administration officials
- In dealing with members of Congress, may show preference for avoiding unnecessary conflict by trying to remain above the fray in heated, highly divisive debates
- Preference for articulating and defending his policies in person rather than relying on staff and administration officials to speak for him
President Obama's Impact on the US
Do you feel the United States of America is better off after President Obama's two terms?
His Impact as the Leader of the Free World
Do you think the World is better off after eight years of President Obama as the leader of the free world?
His Overall Approval Rating
After two terms in office, how would you rate President Obama's overall performance?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.