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.
- 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.
- 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.