Thursday, April 16, 2009

President Obama-A Transformational Leader

I picked up the newspaper today and found an article that is becoming a consistent story, President Obama reaches out to a country, this time Cuba, to communicate, listen, and ease some of the tension currently existing between the two nations. This is one example of how the President is using transformational leadership in his first term. This isn't a posting to judge his policies, programs, or the President himself. It is to early to do that anyway and meant for a political blog. This is to show that President Obama is trying to lead by transforming the nation's image.

Some of the characteristics associated with being transformational includes, charisma, being inspirational and motivational, and providing intellectual stimulation (Northouse, 2007, p. 182). In my opinion President Obama is showing these characteristics by offering an olive branch to Cuba, Iran, Mexico, Russia, and Turkey. The transformation is going from labeling countries and branding them as automatic enemies to communication to see if there are some commonalities that exist to ease some tension and hatred.

Out of the characteristics listed above my favorite one is providing intellectual stimulation. That's the stage the olive branch being offered by President Obama is at. Peter Northouse from the book Leadership Theory And Practice explains that this means to reach out and challenge a belief system, be creative, and innovative(Northouse, 2007, p. 183). In my opinion from the articles I see this has been a central theme in President Obama's message.

The ultimate step though is being successful in the transformation. Here at home, one example of success, can mean transforming our nation from being a strong manufacturing country to a green, environmental based nation. We can measure the stimulus money payouts to see how it is used and its effectiveness. Measuring success abroad is tough. My thought is success will mean sustained positive, intellectual communication with each nation mentioned. Having tensions go back 40 to 50 years means it is unrealistic to think these countries will be strong allies in the next 4 years. Transformation takes time, and I'm willing to give President Obama all the time he needs to see how far he can get.

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