Michelle On Leadership
The 9 systems of leadership are relational, psychological, leverage of power, leverage of skill, negotiation, sacrifice, responsibility, living in paradox, and vision. Michelle Obama’s Democratic National Convention speech effectively and seamlessly touched on the leadership system which is why her speech has been revered by the public and critics alike.
Her speech began with forming a connection and her perspective and life experience is relatable to 99% of all Americans. We understand the American struggle and the perseverance our ancestors displayed in desperate times for survival. She touched on a common connection that we all share and explained how she and her family share the same existence.
Leadership is psychological and enlightened by the ability to manage the stress of others caused by changing times. She told stories that incited strong emotions related to challenging situations that her family and the American people have experienced. She expressed her understanding of these situations and how they as a family have dealt with these experiences in the past. She explained how President Obama does not flinch in times of challenge, but rather, he moves forward with wisdom and compassion.
Leverage Power and Skill
Leadership leverages power to provide for the needs of others by creating security, individual respect for the self and for others, an aura of acceptance and unity, the spirit of love, by creating meaning opportunities, and encouraging achievement. Michelle Obama spoke about the foundation of her family which is love. Love is the central mandatory theme for all successful leadership. A leader without love is a castle without furniture. Michelle Obama vividly showed through her speech that love to her family is everything. She expressed that their love is strong – strong enough to share with the world. By diffusion, these concepts led to inspiration for many Americans and non-Americans around the world because her speech spoke to the fact that her and her husband started from humble beginnings. She spoke to the meaning of hard work and belief in a greater good. The concept of giving back and not shutting the door on others is an American value that we all need to embrace and giving back was central to Obama’s leadership.
Michelle’s calm demeanor is evidence of her high-level of self-awareness and superior confidence in her truth. She and her husband have shown the ability to control their emotions during difficult times and be incredibly accepting of conflicting feedback. These abilities are the skills that all leaders need in order to be successful. Michelle spoke strongly about her family values and how they align with American values. Leadership values depend on the culture it leads and the alignment of these values is essential to gain buy-in from the public at large.
Negotiating a situation with a steadfast commitment to values predicts choices during complexity. She spoke about the most difficult situations crossing the President’s desk and there being no justification for a specific right or a wrong answer. She explained that these pressure-driven choices are made based on the values the President holds and that his values are the same as America’s values. This concept enables the American public to embody the President’s mentality during difficult decision-making and develop a level of empathy because people could relate to the thought-process involved.
Leadership is sacrifice and Michelle spoke about Barack not accepting higher paying positions in exchange for advocating for peoples’ rights because it was the right thing to do. President Obama has shown the mandatory motivation to be a successful leader. He has stood strong for something meaningful to others for most of his political career. Servant leadership builds trust and trust mediates the speed of success. Her speech was geared at regaining the trust they have lost through conflicting allegations that have portrayed their leadership in negative light. Michelle spoke about the sincerity they feel for the American people and the sacrifice that her family has made in order to obtain their leadership position. She spoke about the concern she had for her family adapting to the national spotlight.
Leadership is responsibility and without responsibility there is no leadership. The position of the President of the United States comes with the most situational responsibility in the world. Leaders accept large amounts of responsibility and thrive when the pressure is on. Michelle Obama spoke about enacting the new healthcare law and the responsibility President Obama felt that enabled him to make the difficult choices that were needed to complete the passing of the law. President Obama also took responsibility for the passing of the Equal Pay Act and repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. These are controversial issues that are highly contested, but President Obama took a stand for what he believed was right based on his values system. Michelle spoke about the enormous responsibility that President Obama felt for the American people and the successes that were achieved because of the circumstances.
Leadership is about living in paradox – living in moments of complete uncertainty with no clear answers – the “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” moments. Leadership is full of these moments and accepting an imperfect existence is essential to leading with a clear mind and a clear heart. Dwelling on past events or concern for current ambiguous situations greatly decrease leadership ability. A successful leader uses these paradoxical situations to inspire action and commitment through calmness and honesty. Leaders like Lincoln and Washington were masters of paradox and Michelle spoke about the challenges that faced the Obama leadership over the duration of the presidency. The challenges were vast and complicated. They were compared to the previous presidential challenges of Teddy Roosevelt during the Great Depression and the contention and confrontation of the GOP during every step of Obama’s leadership. These were some of the paradoxical dilemmas that his administration faced.
Leadership is vision and Michelle Obama spoke about Barack Obama’s vision from when they first met and how it has evolved over time. She spoke about his vision having a foundation in American values and his belief in the strength of America. His vision includes the opportunity for a superior education for everyone, the ability to get proper healthcare when needed, and the ability to live the American dream for all. She spoke of the vision of the next generation being greater than us and having the opportunity to provide for the vision. The vision is full of inspiration, commitment, concern, love, opportunity, empowerment, responsibility, and unity to make the vision a reality.
Michelle Obama is a great leader. Without Michelle there is no Barack. She is the foundation of their family and showed her strength and courage in front of hundreds of millions of people from around the world. In my opinion, she deserves the title of America’s first lady and has lived up to the title with style, grace, and leadership.
Keith Lawrence Miller, M.A., PCC, BCC, CPRW
Elite Pro Coach | Ivy League Resumes
ICF Certified & Credentialed Coach (PCC) | Board Certified Coach (BCC)
M.A. Columbia University | Organizational Psychologist
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