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Barack Obama Leadership Style Essay

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Barack Hussein Obama, the 44th President of the USA and the first African American president, has been an exemplary leader in the political sector. Obama served two presidential terms from 2009-2017. He identifies as a person with collective leadership values.

Obama possesses several qualities that make him a good leader, his personal traits such as humbleness, friendliness and his warmth proved him to be a Charismatic leader, and known as a talented speech expert, Obama conveyed his message to the people quite clearly. He is known to adapt his speech to suit the community and society’s needs. He faced a challenging 8-year presidential period that was characterized by serious events, tensions, and crises. A critical analysis of his characteristics and personal traits along with an elaborated discussion on various leadership styles and behavioral theories brought to the conclusion that Obama is a Transformational Leader.

Obama’s personal traits attributed him to be a good leader. His personal traits identify him as one to be ambitious and self-confident. He exhibited traits that classify him as a confident conciliator. Under the skills theory, a leader must possess proficiency in certain areas such as effective communication and relationship skills. Obama has been well known for his skills, having practiced as a civil rights lawyer, and he is well-versed with the legislation of the country. The behavioral theory analyses and discusses the behavior of leaders during the decision-making process and it identifies three types of behavior, including that of an Autocratic, Laissez-Faire, and Democratic leader.

Obama identified as a Transformational leader, as his decision-making was influenced by his leadership style and personality traits, however, he faced criticism for some of his decisions, and due to fierce opposition, he struggled to acquire the support he needed. The analysis and study conclude that Obama’s transformational leadership style was not enough to gain the necessary support unless his leadership involved democratic behavior.


This report discusses the leadership style of Barack Hussein Obama, as the President of the United States of America. It discusses how his leadership style was influenced by his personal characteristics, affecting his decisions and how it impacted him when he required support.

This report briefly explains the different leadership style and behavioural theories to Obama’s leadership style. The report also analyses the advantages and disadvantages of his leadership style, his personal traits, and characteristics and how it made him a good leader.

The aim of critically analysing the leadership and personal traits of Obama during his presidential term and compare it with his leadership style to identify his leadership style and why Obama was a successful leader.

Why Barack Obama is a leader?

Being a leader does not mean having your name in the limelight, making speeches, or confining the power given at the top. It means being able to unleash that power and serve its purpose. Obama identifies as a person with collective leadership values. Obama has been driven by the common threads of empathy and compassion for others as well as a willingness to empower others.

Obama has been working to identify the talent of others and harness it collectively, using the force of his values to attract and foster such talent. Through the Obama Foundation, he and his wife Michelle are working to realize, support and network young leaders globally. (Cameron, 2020)


Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii on 4th August 1961 to an American mother of European descent and an African father. Obama is an American politician and an attorney. He was a member of the democratic society as well as a U.S Senator and later became the first African American president. (, 2020)

He was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America in 2009, after a decisive victory against the republican candidate John McCain. Obama was then re-elected in the 2012 elections to serve his second term, defeating republican candidate Mitt Romney. Obama served as the U.S President for 2 terms from 2009-2017.

Some of Obama’s first term actions addressed were the ‘Global Financial Crises’ which included a major stimulus package, a partial extension of the ‘Bush Tax Cuts’, legislation to ‘Reform Health Care’, and a major ‘Financial Regulation Reform Bill’. During his second term, Obama took steps to combat ‘Climate Change’, signing a major ‘International Climate Agreement’ and an ‘Executive Order’ to limit ‘Carbon Emissions’. He also presided over the implementation of the ‘Affordable Care Act’ and other legislation passed in his first term.

Why Barack Obama is a good leader?

Speech Expert

The next superiority that Obama has is his ability as a speech expert. He was often nicknamed as a ‘Talented Speech expert’ who raised the spirit of the people. For example, many people are interested in their ability to make speeches, and also a compilation of speeches and Obama’s statement, “Change We Can Believe In” that compiled by Obama’s campaign staff. Besides that, he is also often said to be a great “Star Power” that is able to attract investigators easily. This is because Obama has advantages such as extraordinary charisma, such as tenacity, friendliness, warmth, and also attraction.

Obama posses several qualities that make him a good leader:

As a speech expert, he was often nicknamed as a ‘Talented Speech Expert’ who raised the spirits of the people. He was also often known to be a ‘Star Power’ because he had advantages such as extraordinary charisma, tenacity, friendliness, warmth, and attraction.

Obama showed awareness through approaches that were appropriate to its environment. He would carefully adjust the way he spoke like his accent depending on the locations and even used slang, adapting to the community and society (Zahra, A. 2019 The Leadership of Barack Obama). He accepted all criticism’s and suggestions regarding the problems that the people of America face, and is analytical and cautious in his decision making. His personal traits also attributed to be a good leader. His personality is identified as being a humanist, intelligent and humble.

Critical Analysis

Barack Obama emphasized on his readiness to advance and become the next president of America; this self-confidence described him as a leader who was awaited by the society. Obama had a rational approach and made decisions based on non-emotional information. He had a thought process where he always discussed and negotiated in comparison to other officials who preferred a simpler approach to conflict resolution. This caution and deliberation in decision making was criticized as he took so much time in deciding on conflicts such as the war in Afghanistan. Despite being well known for his friendlier and humble approach, his positive representation began to decline due to his partiality towards countries such as Israel, where his political attitude was not different to the previous U.S president. Obama is known as one of the great presidents derived from the African American race, as his leadership affected the U.S. into a greater country. He has had the advantage of carefully and maturely discussing what he would do, or when he would issue a policy and action.

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Leadership styles

Obama’s leadership styles including its advantages are summarized in the following theoretical frameworks:

1. Transformational Leadership:

A leader who encourages, inspires, and motivates others to innovate and create change to help grow and shape the future of their people is a classic example of a transformational leadership style. Obama’s personality is marked as a charismatic figure, which brought the attention of Americans, as well as foreigners, where he has the highest ability to bring others to his side and to accomplish tasks efficiently (Popa, Hazel, Whatley, Andenoro & Crandall, 2011). Obama has been regarded as a transformational leader, because of his ability to bring change to the electoral game, from party representative to a party leader, because of his ability to guide the will of the public, and shake up the internal and external affairs (Takala, Tanttu, Lamsa & Virtanen, 2013).

2. Cross-Cultural Leadership:

Obama has adopted different approaches to bring him closer to other cultures. He worked to improve United States image abroad, by visiting many foreign countries, focusing on the cultural standards and norms of those peoples. He gave more interest to improving America’s relations with the countries through consensual policies. His personal traits played an important role to approach to people of other countries (Hanson, 2014).

3. Global Leadership:

Obama had a global vision and was able to effectively create an independent strategic environment. He created a balance between the major powers in the world with a control of differences and contradictions and served the global ideology of equal humanity as well as co-ordinated various regional parties to a common framework. He had a strong management of internal crisis and a control over it, at the same time he had awareness of the existence of common development factors amongst countries. (Hanson, 2014)

4. Internal Leadership:

Obama’s leadership at an internal level was characterized by his effectiveness to resolve an accumulated problem of the economy such as unemployment, health insurance, and public security, in addition to global problems that reflected a bad image of America around the world. (Popa, Hazel, Whatley, Andenoro & Crandall, 2011).

Disadvantages of the same leadership styles are summarized as follows:

1. Transformational Leadership:

A transformative leader often faces the difficulty to obtain necessary support to pass his ideas, which is where Obama presented with new values to adopt in the presence of strong opposition from within and outside the political party (Wright, Moynihan & Pandey, 2012).

2. Cross-Cultural Leadership:

Many considered it was the weakness in Obama’s leadership which caused the conflicts in the Middle East and the spread of terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria, as the United States have given up most of their leadership roles for the benefit of Russia (Hanson, 2014)

3. Global Leadership:

During the international crisis in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Gaza and Ukraine, Obama found himself under criticism by lawmakers where he seemed to stand back and not do anything to make the congress into acting on the border crisis beyond giving speeches. Public had lost confidence in the President’s leadership (Mataconis, D. 2014).

4. Internal Leadership:

Obama’s internal leadership skills was by resistance due to his strict leadership personality. Although he lined up many American people with his ideas to bring a comprehensive change, he could not gather the necessary political support for the changes that he believed in. (Green & Roberts, 2012).

Concepts and theories

1. Behavioural Theories

This theory analyses and discusses how leaders behave during the decision-making processes. The theory identifies three types of behaviour where leaders are:

i. Autocratic

Under this style, leaders do not care about others’ opinions and determines the goals and ways to achieve them (Tourish, 2014)

ii. Laissez-Faire

This leadership style is where the leader allows his followers to take decision, draw goals and their implementation methods. The leader focusses on giving information to his subordinates rather than taking the lead in directing them (Tourish, 2014).

iii. Democratic

This leadership style obtains their follower’s views, express their ideas, provide them with the necessary information and support. (Tourish, 2014). Democratic leadership style enables leaders to get the cooperation and support needed under the presence of a strong opposition.

2. Traits Theory:

Barack Obama’s personality profile reveals that he is ambitious and confident. Traits like being accommodating, compatible and diligent to a certain degree classified him as a “Confident Conciliator”. He exhibited traits where he gave importance to tasks over relationships as well as giving preference to gathering information from different sources rather than relying on his officials. (Analysis Of A Present Day Leader Barack Obama Commerce Essay, 2020)

3. Skills Theory:

Like the trait’s theory, the skills theory places its attention to the leader. It illustrates that there are certain skills that leaders must possess or develop to carry out their job effectively. The skills that a leader must possess include proficiency in certain areas, effective communication and relationship skills, and ability to conceptualize, analyse situations, and craft strategies.

Obama is well known for his skills; he obtained his law degree from the Harvard University and was awarded the honour Juris Doctor. Before entering politics, he taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago for eight years, and practiced as a civil rights lawyer, making him well-versed with the legislations of the country. He served as a state senator and has supported several bills on the reformation of health care and ethics laws. (Analysis Of A Present Day Leader Barack Obama Commerce Essay, 2020)


As Obama took charge of the presidential office and stepped into the leadership role, he worked hard during his eight years to fulfill his promise to his voters. His two terms where characterized by great tensions, serious events, crisis and overlapping changes at both internal and external levels. Characterized by his personal traits, Obama’s ambitiousness, and self-confidence, identified himself as a transformational leader however due to a fierce opposition, in some cases struggled to acquire the support he needed. His decision making was influenced by his leadership styles and personal traits, as a result some of his decisions were criticized. It is found that the transformational leader must get the full support to achieve an effective leadership and need to be flexible in dealing with others. To conclude, Obama’s Transformational leadership style is not enough to earn the necessary support and unless the transformational leader involves a democratic behavior.


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  3. Cameron, N., 2020. Barack Obama: How To Be A Leader Of Leaders. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 May 2020].
  4. Elkatawneh H. 2016 [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 May 2020].
  5. Green, D. D., & Roberts, G. E. (2012). Transformational Leadership in a postmodern world: The presidential Election of Barack Obama, Academy Of Strategic Management Journal, 11(1), 9-25.
  6. Hanson, S. L. (2014). Transformational leadership and communication: Barack obama case study
  7. Mataconis, D. 2014 The Failures Of Obama’S Leadership. [online] The Christian Science Monitor. Available at: [Accessed 3 May 2020].
  8. Popa, A. B., Hazel, M., Whatley, L., Andenoro, A., & Crandall, H. (2011). What is the role of perceived leadership capacity in presidential politics? Journal Of Leadership Studies, 5(3), 25-39.
  9. Takala, T., Tanttu, S., Lamsa, A., & Virtanen, A. (2013). Discourses of Charisma: Barack Obama’s First 6 Months as the President of the USA. Journal Of Business Ethics, 115(1), 149-166.
  10. Tourish, D. (2014). Leadership, more or less? A processual, communication perspective on the role of agency in leadership theory. Leadership, 10(1), 79-98
  11. 2020. Analysis of A Present Day Leader Barack Obama Commerce Essay. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 May 2020]
  12. Wright, B. E., Moynihan, D. P., & Pandey, S. K. (2012). Pulling the Levers: Transformational Leadership, Public Service Motivation, and Mission Valence. Public Administration Review, 72(2), 206-215.

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