Whether you like President Obama or not, his leadership style came through clearly in his speech announcing Osama bin Laden’s death. We all know communication can be the blessing or curse of any leader. Too verbose or meandering and the perception is you’re weak or untrustworthy. Too strident and the perception is you’re being too defensive and powerless. Journalists also know that every word counts and that you have to have a strong “lede”. The President had that and led with it. “ The United States has conducted an operation that has killed Osama Bin Laden.”
Here are the leadership traits in action that we saw in the President’s speech:
- Inclusion: his message went beyond a victory speech for the U.S. to reinforcing his mission to fight terrorism. And, Obama made the “team” bigger by including Muslims around the world who have suffered from al Queda’s terrorism. “The United States is not and never will be at war with Islam…. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader. He was a mass-murderer of Muslims…so his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.”
- Clarity and Context: Through vivid storytelling he used examples of humanity and emotions to explain the context of killing bin Laden by saying, “Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.” He then told the fascinating story of how he made his decision. You felt included in on his decision-making.
- Shared the Credit: While he explained the decisions he alone had to make, Obama acknowledged the intelligence and counter-terroism officials as well as the young men who killed bin Laden.
- Momentum of Success: he capitalized on how we can take this success and have more success in the future. He built up our esteem and confidence to succeed. “Today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and determination of its people… America can do whatever we set out mind to.. Let us remember, we can do these things, not just because of wealth or power but because of who we are.”
Please let us know if there are any other leadership lessons we missed?