Regardless of your political persuasion, you have to admit that Barak Obama's campaign to become the next U.S. President was an example of exceptional leadership. One Harvard Business Review blogger said he "built a new kind of political organization for the 21st century." Even McCain-supporters Jack and Suzy Welch, in their BusinessWeek column, said that business leaders can learn from Obama's "decisive victory." They wrote:
...Obama's message was simple and aspirational...He talked about change and hope and health care for all. Over and over, he painted a picture of the future that excited people. He also set a perfect example for business leaders: Stick to a limited number of points, repeat them relentlessly, and turn people on.
Sean Murray, in his blog RealTime Leadership, said that Obama's leadership style was one of the factors in his "emergence as a national and global leader." Murray wrote that Obama articulated a clear and compelling vision for the future to which people could connect.
Stew Friedman, professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, wrote that Obama is an effective leader because he is authentic. Friedman argues that Obama's history is consistent with his current aspirations and his hope for the future. People perceive this link and, therefore, perceive Obama to be authentic.
I think President-Elect Obama has exhibited at least eight characteristics that make him an outstanding leader. As has already been mentioned, he has (1) a simple message that everyone can understand, (2) he communicates that message clearly, (3) he repeats that message over and over again to everyone who will listen, and (4) he is authentic in the sense of behaving in a way that is consitent with his professed values. In addition, (5) he is passionate about his vision for the future and how to achieve that vision, (6) he puts "the right people on the bus", (7) he builds a well-funcioning team around him, (8) he helps each person see how he/she is connected to a cause greater than self.
Barak Obama has four years to prove himself as President. But he has already proven himself as a leader, In doing so, he has given us much to emulate if we want to be successful leaders in our organizations.