What does a blog about ‘Leadership and Management’ say about perhaps the most significant leadership event of the 21st century thus far? I’ve posted about the Obama/Biden campaign (The Mid-Life Crisis of the American Dream, Biden’s Getting Back Up), but those entries focused on the reflections about turning adversity to advantage. Now is an ideal juncture to highlight Obama’s strength as a paragon combination of Leadership and Management.
The Leader/Manager balance combination is a very rare breed. As highlighted before here, after years of examination, I have only come up a few examples – Red Auerbach, Richard Noble, Edmund Hillary, Allan Leighton, Konosuke Matsushita and Bill Gates. But in the 20 long months of spotlight scrutiny and endless challenges and challengers on the election trail, all indications are that Obama excels at both.
Obama is certainly a great leader. A leader optimises the upside. Right now, the upside is a ‘Change’ for a better America. His campaign hinged on the vision he was able to paint and the case he was able to make for positive progress from energy policy to foreign affairs.
But it is possibly Obama’s managerial prowess that got him to the White House. A manager minimises downside. And there was plenty of downside to manage. Perhaps the most prominent was the brouhaha over Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The issue had the chance to amplify many voters’ fears about Obama and his Afro-American background, but instead of the intense negativity undermining his momentum, he confronted the issue with poise and insight in a speech of historical proportions on the issue of race ‘A More Perfect Union’. Other downsides deftly managed include the potential defection of Clinton supporters, feared Biden ‘gaffes’ and a campaign of unprecedented scale, challenges and ambition. But the clockwork, grassroots campaign organisation redefined the very definition of a superbly run campaign.
On a very personal note, one of the most prominent impacts of this week’s milestone is that for the first time, our 17 year old son Chase is proud to be an American. Chase landed on the English shores as an infant and for as long as he was aware of things like countries and politics, the Bush administration is the only thing he has ever known. Not only did he chafe at policies that went against our family’s and his own progressive outlook, but the tension was amplified living abroad as the George W isolated America internationally. I especially enjoyed staying up until 4:00 am London time with Chase this Wednesday morning to watch the networks ring in Obama’s victory, experience history being made in America and a reborn American being inspired beside me.