1 A Tale of Two Leaders Hope and Change.

This is the leadership message successfully communicated in 2008 by then- candidate Senator Barack Obama. He followed the recipes of repetition and reiteration that Baldoni (2003) laid out in four chapters. While he brought immeasurable hope, his leadership style did not change from charismatic to transformational as it needed to when he became president. The message was lost. This case study will compare the leadership styles and messages of Candidate Obama in contrast to President Obama, showing how his effectiveness waned after he took office. Leadership Style of Candidate Obama Obama employed the charismatic leadership style (Northouse, 2001), relying on his youth and charm to overcome skepticism (Schein, 2009). He knew himself and that his race, fresh face, and outsider attitude would turn him into a sex symbol (Newsweek, 2008). He understood that in order to be a cogent leader, he must become a good listener and create a visionary message that could evolve with Americans’ needs. Similar to John F. Kennedy before him, he used the most recent technology for his benefit to expand his support base and forever change politics (Scott, 2008). Leadership Style of President Obama As a president, Obama failed to grow into a transformational leader that could evoke real change. Obama continued to provide a vision for change for the nation, but faded into the background on key issues. Obama’s leadership style became one dependant on delegation. Unfortunately, those that Obama delegated authority to were rarely able to build consensus. Once it is clear that an issue will not get consensus, Obama does not step in and negotiate with

2 members of Congress. Instead, President Obama relies on his charismatic leadership style and makes public appeals, often times vilifying the opposition in the process. Leadership Message of Candidate Obama The message Obama delivered was simple, as it informed people of the critical situation, involved them in the solution, ignited ideas of a better nation, and invited Americans to support his campaign (Baldoni, 2003). He was keen in understanding his targeted audience, and focused on showing differences between himself and his opponent (Miller, 2008) His ability to construct and tell the story was exceptional (Newsweek, 2008). Leadership Message of President Obama Even great orators like Obama lose their message. Establishing, maintaining, and restoring credibility (Baldoni, 2003) have proved difficult for the president. A leadership message as broad as ‘Hope and Change’ works for a candidate, but quickly loses its meaning for a president with so much responsibility and with so many issues to deal with. Obama’s audience has grown as has his responsibilities. He has more to be concerned with than just the approval of his targeted audience, as he now presides over a nation with varying ideals, values, and opinions. His inability to expand his message to that new audience, the nation, has led to partisanship in his leadership (Mataconis, 2011). Conclusion While there is undoubtedly a positive correlation between the presence of traits like extroversion and conscientiousness, Northouse (2001) was correct in noting that a situation can influence effective leadership communication, and that a competent leader in one situation may not be appropriate in another. It is true that these leadership problems come with the position,

3 and that Obama is not unique in his inability to grow his communications skills. He is analyzed as a relevant and recent example of both an effective and ineffective leadership communicator.

4 References

01101010charles. (2012). A side-by-side comparison of Obama's 2008 and 2012 speeches. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-C_x5JmHa7E Amburgey, B. (2008). Barack Obama: Great speech! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7RRBlng8fg Baldoni, J. (2003). Great communication secrets of great leaders. New York: McGraw-Hill. Hoft, J. (2013). Amazing - Obama caught in bald-faced lie on white house sequester. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNBhue9OMTY Scott, D. M. (November 6, 2008). Ten marketing lessons from the Barack Obama presidential campaign. Retrieved April 18, 2013 from www.webinknow.com. Mataconis, D. (2011). Obama is President, but is he a leader? http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/obama-is-president-but-is-he-a-leader/ Miller, C. C. (November 7, 2008). How Obama’s internet campaign changed politics. Retrieved April 17, 2013 from http:bits.blogs.nytimes.com Newsweek. (2008). http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2008/11/05/how-he-did-it Northouse, P. (2001). Leadership: Theory and Practice (6th Edition). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. Schein, E. (2009). The Corporate Culture Survival Guide. Wiley. YWTVtv. (2013). Obama Rips Republican Sequester. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bn6ICkSgN2E

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