Leadership Concepts and Barack Obama


The concept of leadership has undergone a huge change in terms of an effective leader. It has changed from a born leader to a situational leader and finally to an effective leader. Theories of leadership, views and assumptions has also undergone a huge change over the period.  Industries and business have set their managers as leaders to achieve the vision, mission and challenges of the company. Some leaders are born and need a little training and development. Some managers are not born but can acquire good leadership qualities with their experience and training and development. Barack Obama is a born leader. He is the 44th President of the United States. He was elected on 4th November, 2008 and sworn in on 20 January, 2009. He was re elected in 2012. He is serving his second and final term which will end in January 2017.


Examples of Born leaders are - Mahatma Gandhi, Jamshedji Tata

Examples of Made Leaders are - Vikram Singh of Hindustan Aluminium and M S Dhoni, Captain of Indian Cricket Team.



Barack Obama is the son of a white American Mother and born to a Kenyan Father. His father left him when Barack Obama was just two years old. Barack Obama lived with his grandmother in the United States and his grandmother helped him to complete his education by taking number of loans. Barack Obama was elected as the president of the United States in 2008 and his grandmother passed away just before 2 days of his election. He contested against good contenders like Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

A leader is a person who influence their followers largely to make real changes for mutual purposes. Barack Obama is one such example. He shows an example of visionary and optimistic leadership style. During his tenure of president, he has shown that he has the temperament, judgment and strength of the character to get the country through the hard times and reclaim his leadership there. He also shows participative style of leadership as he has involved people in decision making and create hope in all of them.

Few of the traits and characteristics which Barack Obama shows is Perseverance. He always stays focused and does not lose any site to a given goal.

He is logical and analytical.

The other characteristic is energy. He has high energy not wanting to fail. He is a self aware person where he knows his outside world and what is he saying and how is he behaving.

He has good communication skills. He has good eye contact, sound arguments and good listening capabilities.

Barack Obama has integrity in his character. He has the courage to do what's the best for the whole country. He does not compromise in his values.

He has gained respect over the years. Before he was elected as the president, he supported diplomacy as the first measure to be taken for any suspicious activity. He also opposed the bill which regarded Iranian Revolutionary guard as terrorist group. He did not carry any previous feedback with him. He treated all organizations as equal.

He also gave a big relief to the tax payers for small business and companies that created jobs in America. He gave tax reliefs to middle class families. He treated everyone with equality.

He also worked as the community organizer in the south side of Chicago. He has performed his roles, duties as a eloquent citizen.

He is also a caring person. He is seen with his family members every time and he has also committed to create universal health care in America which shows his caring nature.

He himself is so much confident that he has created confidence in people when US economy was in a multi trillion dollar debt. He creates plans to counter the U.S debt and attacks the economic recession on the daily basis. The people have gained trust in the Federal government once again. He has encourages the Americans to act for a common purpose.

He always have people who are not supportive in his views. By this he will have different perspectives on difficult issues. He has shown his decisiveness through innumerable times in his country.


The effectiveness of the leaders depend on their ability to influence and be influenced by the followers. The leaders should ensure that the tasks are achieved and accomplished on time. Leaders must also ensure that they have to develop each member of their team. They have to focus on team work, team spirit and reinforce the team. Barack Obama has the ability to influence the Americans. He created trust in them when there was economic recession. He always makes sure that the tasks are accomplished on time. He involves people also in his decision making. He is perceptive. He rallies for the people. He creates opportunities for everyone in the unit of healthcare, education and employment. He is responsive to the needs of people. He has the ability to connect with the audience. He is known to be an effective leader.


Leaders have the ability to accomplish the tasks on time in an effective manner. But it is largely dependent on how their act to their tasks. Leaders should have clarity of purpose. Leaders should understand short term and long term goals of the company. Leaders should work in the below mentioned process.

Planning in advance about the process leading to task accomplishment, to determine all kinds of resources which are necessary to accomplish a particular task, Making their organizational structure very adaptable, to have a balance and seeing regular progress towards achieving the task and feeding information forward and backward to evaluate the results.

Barack Obama has accomplished several tasks. He killed Osama Bin Laden. He created better healthcare. He has strengthened American Relationships with the foreign countries. He has gotten American troops out of Iraq. He is a great president with good great goals, ideals and ideas for his country.


Leaders help the teams to formulate policies, objectives and standards. Leaders always involve the team members in achievement of objectives. Leaders consult and involve the team members in decision making which will result in effectiveness of the organization. Leaders help in face to face communication in the team. They remove any communication barriers faced by the team. Leaders always help in the development of individuals. They have control over the jobs  or the tasks which are delegated to their followers. Leaders help in formulation of vision and mission. Formulation of objectives and goals is also looked after by the leaders. They also help in formulation of strategic alternatives to achieve the goals.

Barack Obama shows a positive leadership. He is a leader. He is a great president. He has a great impact on the people of America. He has announced unequivocal end to torture. He has ordered the closing of Guantanamo and closing of secret prisons. He has improved American relations with Iran. Obama has largely impacted U S policy on climate change. He has launched high speed rail. He has exercised the power to declare CO2 a pollutant, he has enacted auto emission standards. He has set a timetable to exit Iraq and thus ending conflict with Vietnam. He has made peace with Russia. He has promoted welfare of women and worked in the areas of AIDS, sex trade etc. He has made a big progress towards cooperation on limiting nuclear Proliferation.


Leadership is simple terms means  influencing others to get the job done. It is a process where the leader influences others or say followers to get the work or task done over a period of time in a effective and efficient manner. Leadership could be best explained with the help of the above example. Marketing managers influence their sales team and sales work force to meet their targets. The three process which is included in the leadership process are compliance, identification and internalization or combination of all the three.

Below is the explanation of three terms -

Compliance: This is a process in leadership where the managers influence the subordinates to undergo a process of coercion. It is in simple terms leadership which is achieved by authority or force. In this type, people or subordinates are influenced to do something forcefully or say against their will.

Identification: People follow their leaders and do things or work assigned by leaders because of they like the leader and wants to accomplish the task.  Employees will follow their managers or leaders because the leaders are attractive in nature and act as a role model.

Internalization:  This is the process which takes place when the followers are convinced by their leaders and know that acting will yield good results in future. The amount of influence from the managers or leaders side is very less. The employees  realize their efforts. The employees trust the leaders opinion and has a high trust in his expertise. The employees are also free to act upon.

Barack Obama works on the principle of Internalization. He takes opinion from public as well.


Leadership is generally practiced by its style which may be positive or negative. Some of the styles which are based on traditional theories are mentioned and explained below:

1. Laissez Faire style - In this style of leadership, the leaders avoid their authority and responsibility. Leaders play a negligible role here and depend on the group. The group has to establish their objectives, goals and formulate the policies.

2. Autocratic style - This style is completely opposite to the laissez Faire style. Here the leaders have the say in the decision making process. Authority and responsibility lies in the leaders. Followers have to obey to the instructions given by leaders.

3. Democratic Style - In this type of leadership style, the decision is finally taken by leaders but the followers and team are involved in the decision making process and are encourages to express their opinions. Here leaders decentralize authority. Decisions are arrived by the process of consultation.

4. Participative Style - Here leaders decentralize authority. The followers are involved in the decision making process and are also encouraged to take the decisions and express their opinions in each process. Decisions are finally taken by the leaders as well as the subordinates unlike democratic style where only leaders take the final decisions.

There are other leadership styles also which are based on the modern theories. The leadership styles which are based on charismatic and transformational leadership are mentioned and explained below:

1. Envisioning: Envisioning creates excitement. This style basically focus to create a picture of the future or a desired future which will help the employees or people to help in easy identification. This style focuses on developing goals and expectations.

2. Energizing: The leader in this style generates energy. He directs the motivation to act among the organizational employees. This style involves excitement, confidence, seeking, finding and using success.

3. Enabling: This style focuses that the leaders help the followers psychologically to act and perform and achieve their challenging tasks. This involves personal support, empowering and empathizing.

There are also different types of followership styles. This happens in real life situations. They are generally not given more recognition and are just mentioned at the maturity of level of followers.

They are No Boss, Yes Boss, Grumbling, Escapism, Critical style and Intellectual Arrogance Style.

Barack Obama is a good example of a charismatic leader. He is a transformational leader. He attracted the Americans and foreigners before the elections. He has the ability to draw people' s attention. He invoked a permanent change in the people who embraced his vision. He made a huge difference in domestic and foreign affairs. He has engaged a lot with the audience. He has made good connections with Americans and motivated them to follow him. This is a biggest trait of transformational leadership. He shows and commits lot of dedication in his speech. He is calm, intelligent and authenticity is shown. He is an influential leader.


There are three major approaches and theories of leadership. They are Trait theories, Behavioral theories and situational theories.

1. Trait theories are based on the traits or personal characteristics which differentiate the leaders from others.

2. Behavior theories are based on the fact that leadership is not defined by the traits one leaders possess but how he behaves and acts in a particular situation.

3. Situational theories are based on the characteristics or traits of leaders and followers and nature of the task to be performed and also on the structure of the group. Here the leaders are determined by the surrounding leadership environment.

Barack Obama's leadership example lies in a situational theories.


Some of the individual characteristics of leaders are mentioned below:

1. Physical Characteristics: Age, Appearance, Height and Weight

2. Social Background: Education, Social Status

3. Personality: Aggressiveness, alertness, enthusiasm, integrity, confidence.

4. Task Related characteristics: Achievement, Responsibility, Task orientation, persistence

5. Social Characteristics: Prestige, Interaction, tack, diplomacy, popularity, co-operation.

Leaders are identified by the above mentioned traits and not their behaviors. The list of these traits are endless and are not finite. For some occupation traits like confidence and enthusiasm will make leaders and for some occupation high need achievers will make people leaders. Traits will differ from one occupation to other.

Barack Obama's personality traits are ambitious, confident, dominant, accommodating, agreeable, cooperative, outgoing, congenial. He is ambitious, gracious, considerate, benevolent. He would give preference to mediation and compromise over force or coercion. He is pragmatic and more task oriented.  He relies less on staff.


Leaders in this type of theories use a particular style of leadership approach to lead individuals to achieve certain goals and results in high productivity and morale. There are two main style of leadership which are stated as task orientation and employee orientation.

Task orientation is the process which is used by the leaders to get the task done from their employees or followers by assigning the task, then organization and making decision and finally evaluating their performance.

Employee orientation is the leadership style where leaders exhibit openness and friendless for the subordinates.

There are two major research studies directed to understand behavioral approach to leadership.

i) Ohio State University Studies and

 ii) University of Michigan Studies. 

Ohio State Studies: In Ohio State Studies there are two independent leadership dimensions which are known as initiating structures and considerations.

Initiating structures are concerned to the degree to which the leader defines the tasks and assigns the work to be done. The leader establishes communication networks and evaluates work group performance.

Consideration is mainly behavior which involves trust. respect, support and concern for the welfare of employees. It is more of an employee orientation leadership style.

Michigan State Studies: These studies also have two different styles of leadership.

 Job-centered leaderships style mainly focuses on close supervision, coercive power, legitimate power, meeting schedules and evaluating work performance.

Employee-centered style focuses on people. It is more of people oriented and it lays emphasis on delegation of responsibility and also take care of employee welfare, needs and their advancement and personal growth.

These two leadership style result in more productivity.

Job centered behavior leads to increase in turnover and absenteeism and created tension and pressure among employees.

Employee centered style created motivation and enthusiasm in employees. It is the best leadership style. 

Managerial Grid: Blake and Mouton developed the managerial grid on the basis of Ohio State Study. The managerial grid identifies a range of management behavior based on the different ways of how production oriented and employee oriented styles interact with other.

The style  1- 1 is impoverished management. It has low concern for both the people and production. This is also called laissez faire management. They require minimum effort to get the work done and sustain morale of organization.

The style 1 - 9 is known as country club. Where there is high concern for employees and low concern for production.

The style 9-1 is known as task oriented or authoritarian oriented. There is a high concern for production and low concern for employees.

Style 5 - 5 is known as middle road where there is intermediate amount of concern for production and employees.

Style 9 - 9 is team or democratic management.  This has high concern for management and production and employees.

Blake and Mouton always insisted to use 9 - 9 style of leadership. He believed this is the best style to achieve the goals of organization. It is known as the most effective leadership style.

Barack Obama has a 9 - 9 style of leadership.

Likert's System Four Model: Rensis Likert focuses that managers operate under four different systems. 

System I - Exploitative Authoritative: The manager is very authoritarian and exploits the subordinates

System II - Benevolent Authoritative: The manager takes a paternalistic approach while still being autocratic. the leader maintains strict control over the subordinates albeit in a paternalistic manner.

System III - Consultative: The manager consults the subordinates and still maintains the right to make the final decision. 

System IV - Participative Groups: The manager uses a democratic style and makes decision by consensus and majority vote.

Likert feels that the best way for all organizations to manage employees is to move towards System IV.   Barack Obama shows System 1V style of leadership.


Situational theories focus that the leaders are called when they act in a situation given to them. According to these theories there is no one best way to lead in all the situations. All the situations are different and one has to act differently in all the situations. Effective leadership style will differ from one situation to other and depends on several factors like personality of the leaders, nature of the tasks, characteristics of the followers and other factors.

Situational leadership can be defined as a concept that helps understand leadership in terms of changing environment. Situational leadership theory was developed in 1969 by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard.

This type of leadership depends upon each individual situation. This theory requires an individual to analyze the needs according to a particular situation and then act towards it. Ability or maturity of the followers are equally important than leader who leads the situation.

Situational leadership theory is a part of the group of the theories which are known as contingency theories of leadership. Contingency theories of leadership suggests that a leader's efficiency is related to the leader's skills or behaviour in relation to differing situational factors. As per situational leadership theory, a leader's effectiveness is contingent on his ability to alter his behaviour to the level of his subordinates' development or sophistication.

Since the theory falls in the group of contingency theory, it can be said that it will help the leader adjust to different followers based on his skills and ability and he will be able to make all the people perform well based on his skills and leadership style which he will change based on the changing situation.


As per the leadership theory, the leader has certain characteristics which are in combination of levels of directing behavior as well in terms of levels of supportive behavior. The various combinations of these styles would give us the different styles the leader adopts in different situations.

As per the authors of the model, there are 4 dominant styles of leadership. They are as follows:

1.      Telling - Here the leader has high directive behaviour and a very low supportive behaviour

2.      Selling - Here the leader has high directive behaviour and a high  supportive behaviour

3.      Participating - Here the leader has low directive behaviour and a very high supportive behaviour

4.      Delegating - Here the leader has low directive behaviour and a very low supportive behaviour.

The main characteristics of leaders in this type of theory are flexibility. Situational leaders are always flexible and adapt themselves to the situations and act according to the level of maturity of the group which they are leading. Situational leaders are more supportive and task oriented. When the subordinates are not developed then there is lot of supervision and leaders are directive in nature. The case is same as a parent who is guiding to a toddler.  These type of leaders also coach their teams. They provide detailed instruction to the team and focus on the situation. They also encourage the team to be good in decision making and more independent.

High level of problem solving is done by these type of leaders. These type of leaders are very adaptive and are integral part of the organization. These type leaders have clear vision. They have humility to accept the limitations of the followers and seek higher wisdom of the group.


The situational leadership model does not only focus on the leader. The model also focuses on the follower.

As per the model the characteristics of the follower are measured on 2 major dimensions:

1.      Task maturity

2.      Psychological maturity

In task maturity, the level and the aptitude of the individual is measured to see whether he is able to independently do the task or not. He also tries to see if the person needs any guidance and the level of guidance sorted.

The psychological maturity component checks whether the person is mentally willing to accomplish the given task or not. This response is of great significance to the leader. If this is high, then it is much easy for the leader to lead a group.

If both the components are high, the leader is in a win win situation. But if either if it is low, especially the psychological component, then it becomes difficult for a leader to successfully achieve the target.

There are four types of development level seen in situational leadership.

1. Low - Here the group and individual are very new to the task. They are unclear of what to do. They are confused in their goals. They lack experience and they lack confidence.

2. Low - Moderate - These type of groups and individuals have started taking the decisions into action and started gaining confidence. They know what they have to do and are quite well directed. They have started to begin their productive process. They have the low ability and high willingness.

3. Moderate - High - They have high ability and low willingness. They are not led much by leaders and hence there is less willingness seen. They attain productivity.

4. High - They have high ability and high willingness. They have reached the goals. They can make their decision. They can perform well. They are independent. They have high confidence.

Situational Leadership Styles: Situational leadership uses the same two leadership dimensions - task and relationship behavior. However, the situational leadership approach goes a step further by considering each as either high or low and then combining them into for specific leadership styles: Directing, Coaching, Supporting and Delegating. 

i) Directing: (high directive - low supportive): The leader defines roles and tells people what tasks to do and how, when and where to do them. It emphasis directive behavior. 

ii) Coaching: (high directive - high supportive): The leader provides both directive behavior and supportive behavior) 

iii) Supporting (low directive-high supportive): The leader and follower share in decision-making, with the main role of the leader being facilitating and communicating.  

iv) Delegating: (low directive-low supportive): The leader provides little direction or support.   

Transformation Leadership: In this type of leadership, leaders motivate the subordinates, stimulates the subordinates, excites, arouse and inspires them to perform beyond their expectations. The leaders transforms the followers into people who self actualize.

Charismatic leadership is the main gist of transformational leaderships. Charismatic leaders guide, inspire, motivate their followers in the direction of a particular goal and helps to clarify the tasks and responsibility. There is an understanding between the leaders and followers and both of them are rewarded when the goals are achieved. Charismatic leaders pay attention to the needs of individuals. They help in the development of individuals. They excite, arouse and inspire the followers. Transformational leaders are also charismatic leaders because they have a heroic approach in achieving tasks and leading teams. They walk a extra mile and have a positive impact on the followers.

There are few characteristics of a Transformational leader.

These leaders have a different charisma. They help in providing vision, mission, guidance, support to the subordinates. They gain respect and trust from the people. They are an inspiration to the people. They have high expectations from the subordinates and puts in great effort. They promote intelligence, rationality and problem solving approach. They coach, advise their subordinates and lead the team effectively.



Barack Obama works on the principle of Integrity, trust and respect. He is a charismatic leader as he knows what to speak and when is the right time. He has a great vision and high performance expectations. He has conveyed new set of values. He is a family oriented person. He always works on his values. He is a transformational leader. The speech which he gave about his country where there is no racism and fear and the country which is not led by politicians of wealth are his ideas for his country. He did not lose hope after he lost elections for the US congress and later he won the senate elections by a large margin. He is an ordinary citizen and an extra ordinary speaker. The role of nurture has played an important role in his leadership life. From the beginning of his life, he faced many challenges and so his experiences have brought him a long way. He reformed American Health care. He signed the affordable care act covering 32 million uninsured Americans. He signed a new START treaty with Russia and improved their relationships with Russia. He reestablished a transparency program with the help of which each country can monitor the other. He ended the war in Iraq. He helped the Americans to move out of Afghanistan. He killed Osama Bin Laden. He helped America come out of economic crisis and Great Depression. He is a true charismatic leader and a transformational leader.

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