Barack Obama Leadership Profile


Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States, having taken office in 2009 after winning the electoral campaign against John McCain. He is also the first African American to have taken the office of the President in the US.

Barack Obama

A Short Biography

Barack Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961. He has of multiracial descent, with his mother from Germany and Ireland, and his dad from Kenya.

At 3 years of age, Obama’s parents divorced, and his mother remarried an Indonesian student. Three years later, his family had to relocate to Jakarta because of the Indonesian government recalled all overseas Indonesians.

He returned to Honolulu in 1971 to stay with his maternal grandparents. From there he completed his education at Columbia University and worked for a year.

He was active helping the Illinois community with his active participation in volunteer work and his first entry into politics was in 1996, where he was elected into the Illinois Senate. In 2004, he ran for the US. Senate and won resoundingly with 70% of the votes and in 2005, he was sworn in as a senator on January 4, 2005, becoming the only Senate member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

On February 10, 2007, Obama announced his candidacy for President of the United States. He first won Hillary Clinton within the Democratic Party, who later on endorsed him and supported his campaign against John McCain of the Republicans.

On November 4, 2008, he became the first African American to be elected president and delivered his victory speech before hundreds of thousands of people.

Leadership Lessons from Barack Obama

1. “Yes, We can.” Mindset

Everyone who has heard of the US elections would have come across this phrase coined by Obama, ‘Yes we can!’. It inspired a whole nation because of the context of the US economy at that time; unemployment was high and it was the aftermath of the Lehman Crisis of 2008.

This signifies a can-do attitude about Obama, inspiring his followers to believe that all things are possible despite the challenges. As a leader, we need to show this can-do attitude too; to believe that it is possible first before our followers believe; to see the victory before anyone else sees it.

2. Be inclusive

Obama was extremely inclusive in his campaign and people from all backgrounds came out to endorse him ranging from celebrities like Snoop Dogg to Warren Buffet. He sought to ensure that all bases were covered.

If you want your followers to take ownership of corporate decisions, you have to include them in the decision making process. People who are isolated from that soon become withdrawn and disinterested, feeling that they can do little to influence outcomes.

Consider how you can include more people in your decision making and find ways to get their input; they might just surprise you.

3. Be clear about the vision

Although John McCain probably had great policies for reform, but it was Obama that managed to explain the vision in a very simple manner. He constantly used the word ‘change’ in his speech. This word embodied the spirit of his words and it came out through his conviction in his speeches.

You need to speak to the heart to capture people; speaking to the mind gets them to intellectually agree with you, but it will not necessarily get them to follow you. This is an important skill as a leader.

Books about Barack Obama

Quotes from Barack Obama

Americans… still believe in an America where anything’s possible – they just don’t think their leaders do.

But what we can do, as flawed as we are, is still see God in other people, and do our best to help them find their own grace. That’s what I strive to do, that’s what I pray to do every day.

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.

Community colleges play an important role in helping people transition between careers by providing the retooling they need to take on a new career.

Contrary to the claims of some of my critics and some of the editorial pages, I am an ardent believer in the free market.

Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.

I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war.

I think when you spread the wealth around it’s good for everybody.

I’ve got two daughters. 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.

If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.

It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we are today, but we have just begun. Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today.

Money is not the only answer, but it makes a difference.

Our combat mission is ending, but our commitment to Iraq’s future is not.

There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America – there’s the United States of America.

This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands.

Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation – not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago.

We didn’t become the most prosperous country in the world just by rewarding greed and recklessness. We didn’t come this far by letting the special interests run wild. We didn’t do it just by gambling and chasing paper profits on Wall Street. We built this country by making things, by producing goods we could sell.

We need earmark reform, and when I’m President, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.

We need to internalize this idea of excellence. Not many folks spend a lot of time trying to be excellent.

We need to steer clear of this poverty of ambition, where people want to drive fancy cars and wear nice clothes and live in nice apartments but don’t want to work hard to accomplish these things. Everyone should try to realize their full potential.

We proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things and tackling our biggest challenges.

Barack Obama Leadership Video

A biography of Barack Obama that played at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, prior to Barack’s acceptance speech.

Other Links

Wikipedia: A short account of Barack Obama’s life

More Political Leader Profiles

For leadership profiles of other famous Political leaders, including George Washington, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King Jr, check out our Political Leadership Profiles section.

Also check out our Leadership Profiles book series. In each book, we study 10 influential leaders in Business, Military, Politics and Sports.



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