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Monthly Archives: January 2010

Scott Brown&the Massachusetts Election: Leadership Lessons for Obama

Scott Brown’s victory in the Massachusetts elections may have put health care reform in jeopardy, but it holds some important leadership lessons for President Obama.

  1. Despite Barack Obama being a great communicator, he is demonstrating a tremendous lack of communicative leadership intelligence. On the presidential campaign, his speeches inspired hope in large audiences across America, and during the televised debates, his cool unflappable delivery inspired confidence in viewers. However, during the first year of his presidency, his communication has not shown a key characteristic of leaders–adaptability. The cool tone is not cool when bailed-out banks pay out out fat bonuses to their employees from tax payers’ money. Obama needs to channel the public’s outrage in an angry voice.The ease with which he chooses to compromise on campaign promises on grounds on “pragmatism” with the Republicans in Congress–especially when they won’t yield an inch–is again seen by the American public as a weakness in leadership–not being firm when one needs to.
  2. Obama’s first year has made him seem to have lost his path in the wilderness left behind by the previous administration. What does Obama want to do specifically? Healthcare? Economy? Afghanistan? GITMO? Climate Change? This is a case of a leader trying to do too many things and doing only a bit of each. Nancy Koehn writes in The Washington Post that Abraham Lincoln’s problems as he entered the second year of his presidency in 1862, were far greater than Obama’s today. But Lincoln found his backbone in the first 6 months of 1862. The question is whether Obama will find his backbone and focus in 2010.

Donate to Help Haiti Earthquake Victims

As the work week begins in the USA after the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, I urge you to make a donation to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Stories of true leadership emerge everyday from amidst the ruins and the disorder, but the need of the hour is our help.Donate through UNICEF:

Help Victims of Earthquake in Haiti through UNICEF.

Or through the American Red Cross:

Donate through Red Cross to help Earthquake Victims in Haiti.

President Obama: Speech on intelligence failures

Barack Obama is always fascinating when it comes to leadership intelligences. Yesterday’s speech, was a succinct demonstration of communicative leadership intelligence.Watch:


In an appropriately stern voice, Obama declared, “… our intelligence community failed to connect those dots, which would have placed the suspect on the no-fly list. In other words, this was not a failure to collect intelligence, it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had.” He went on to say, that this situation was “not acceptable.”
In its editorial wisdom, the Washington Post says, “What was missing from yesterday’s assessment, and what Mr. Obama promised would be quickly forthcoming, was a treatment plan.”
In my opinion, Obama’s speech would have failed if it had laid out a “treatment plan.” Given that the purpose of the speech was to use communicative intelligence to solve a problem–”Obama’s administration goofed up in anti-terrorism efforts”–it had to demonstrate candor and the President’ authority to call relevant parts of his administration to task. And that it definitely did.
A spelling out of policy would have led to this becoming an exercise in analysis and full of operational details. A speech of the kind the Washington Post call for, would have at this point achieved far less than the speech Obama gave.
What do you think? Did Obama succeed in being a leader in this speech?