Why Was Barack Obama a Good Leader

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Obama, from an early age, knew that he was destined to help change the nation and in order to do so needed to focus on ending corruption from the ground up. I believe this sparked his move to Chicago, which was one of the most racially segregated cities in the US at the time. His desire for changing our nation’s destiny was only matched by his desire to learn who he is, and becoming an organizer seemed like a way that he could use his analytical style of thinking to help understand his own personal journey in life. During Obama’s time as an organizer, he grew as a person, a leader, and a social justice influencer, and did so with values that aligned with the effective agenda-setting principles presented in Ch. 5 of “Stand & Deliver.”

The first principle, which involves using democratic practices for social change and equality, and in society as a whole, is directly in line with the core of Obama’s work as an organizer. Obama and the leadership team gathered the community on street corners, in auditoriums, and at churches in order to foster an environment where people could discuss their issues and goals in life and spark a passion for change. The discussions made between the people at the meeting did not just affect the lives of those in attendance but influenced change in the community as a whole. One example of this was when the leadership took the word and actions of the people and started to make a change for The Gardens by influencing Ms. Alvarez to install MET within the area.

The second principle outlined is to use ideological pluralism where viewpoints from multiple sides of the situation are included. This is clearly evident in Obama’s partnerships and discussions with Rafiq. Rafiq had his own idea of how blacks in Chicago, particularly Roseland, can support each other during business and keep all profit within the black community. Though Rafiq’s plan for the city did not directly align with Obama and the leadership’s goals, they were willing to work with Rafiq to have a symbiotic relationship. This inclusion of multiple viewpoints represents ideological pluralism because it allows the coexistence of both plans and allows each one to continue in hopes of success.

The inclusion of women in the leadership of the movement was a principle that clearly aligned with Obama’s organizing. Many of Obama’s closest relationships were with women – Toot, Maya, and his mother. This gave him trust and reliance on women in his life. Angela, Shirley, and Mona were three of the first women he met who truly appreciated, followed, and lead alongside Obama when he got to Chicago. He also had Mary, who helped organize the gatherings in the church, a white woman who wanted change for her daughters. With them by his side, he conducted interviews and listened to countless stories from women about their struggles and hardships in their daily lives. And in the end, they took this information to a woman of power, Ms. Alvarez. Women were clearly represented and played a large role in helping Obama not only achieve change but stay grounded and remember the meaning of his work.

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Incorporating the contribution of each generation was not as explicitly clear, but was still involved in Obama’s organizing. To Obama, the children are the future, and his efforts were performed in order to give them a better life than he had. He wanted to make the streets safe, provide access to education, and break down racial barriers so they won’t have to deal with them. The adult generation was the generation to lead the change, gather to talk, then act. The older generation is whom he learned from. He learned what they’ve done wrong, such as turning their anger inward, and what they excel in, such as their resilience and not backing down.

The coalition of blacks and whites was extremely prominent in Obama’s organizing, particularly because a white man was the main leader of the whole movement, Marty. Marty is the one who encouraged Obama to move to Chicago, paid him to be an organizer, and mentored him through decisions and actions he made during his efforts. He followed under the leadership of Marty, a non-black because he believed in Marty’s efforts to join blacks and whites together in Chicago to provide jobs. He knew that this grass-roots effort to understand the wants and needs of the community and make small changes could lead to something much larger. This dynamic with Marty also aligns with the next principle, which is the accountability of those who claim to be Black leaders. Obama struggled with other blacks in the community to follow the leadership of Marty but knew that by proving their dedication to the black community through listening to the people, the community would join with them. In one way, Marty’s hiring of Obama is accountability itself for his representation of Black leadership. He knew to truly influence the lives of people he wanted to help, he would need someone who looked like them.

And lastly, the principle of collective leadership does not repress individuals, nor elevate their interests over the collective need. This is beautifully personalized in Obama’s relationship with Will. Will was strongly opinionated and definite in his ways, such as wearing a Clergy collar though others did not believe he should have the right. One of Will’s movements was to hold street corner meetings, which Obama was very hesitant about. But in order to not repress his leadership, Obama agreed and helped put on the events. In the end, the street corner meetings were many of the most successful events, because they were a comfortable and familiar spot for the people of Chicago. Obama was also worried when Will began an impromptu reflection portion of one of the meetings. This was most likely because of how uncomfortable Obama was with sharing his own story. But soon, Obama saw how much people were willing to open up, and the powerful moment truly compelled everyone in attendance. He was proud of his fellow leader, and at that moment understood his motivations.

Obama’s leadership and work within the movement helped instill power, community, and most importantly change within the communities he was involved with. But, Obama did not and could not have done it alone. His use of these principles, whether he intended to or not, allowed him to be a successful leader within the community. By incorporating more and more of these principles over time, he developed his network of support and learned new ways to gather and understand the needs of the community, in order to have the most impact. His goal was to perform grass-roots movements to impact the community on a larger scale, and in turn, it impacted him deeply to give him the experience needed to move into higher positions in politics later in life.

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Why Was Barack Obama a Good Leader. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 18, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/why-was-barack-obama-a-good-leader/
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