Barack Obama as a Leader: Positive and Negative Sides

The Characteristics of a Leader

Different people have various associations with the word “leader”; therefore; it is difficult to give an accurate and suitable situation definition of this notion. However, some characteristics are applicable to all understandings of leaders. Those people have enough influence on their followers to unite them; they encourage others, provide social change, and are trustworthy. Leadership is easily recognized in such areas as military operations, politics, and management, and presidents are often called political leaders of their countries. Leadership is a conception of great importance for society to be sure of in the future.

The ability to be a leader is not inherent; it requires to be developed and cultivated in a person. According to Manning (2021), the leader is characterized by: a strong drive for responsibility and task completion; vigor and persistence in pursuit of goals; originality in problem-solving; drive to exercise initiative in social situations. The additional characteristics are self-confidence and personal identity, willingness to accept consequences of decision and action, readiness to absorb interpersonal stress, willingness to tolerate frustration and delay, and ability to influence other persons’ behavior (Manning, 2021). There are many points to estimate a leader. However, it is impossible to possess all the mentioned traits. Therefore a perfect person never existed.

Positive Sides of Barack Obama as a Leader

One of the most important political leaders of the 21st century for the USA is Barack Obama, who was the President of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A leader is a person who constantly moves forward and aims to create better conditions for people. During his presidency period, Obama had some defeats and victories, but he had never used politics for his own sake. He accomplished some reforms in healthcare, economy, education, and foreign policy and broadened the rights of the LGBT community. A leader should be ahead of time and predict future alterations in all the spheres of people’s lives to be able to make the right decisions.

One of the most important traits of leadership is encouraging people to move toward their goals. Obama positioned himself not as the President of the United States and not as a representative of the Negro minority but as an average citizen born in the province. Barack Obama often showed up in front of cameras drinking beer or playing bowling; he laughed at himself. In an interview at the end of his presidency, he told the interviewer he was going to work in Uber after retirement. Such behavior, along with his loving wife, Michelle Obama, helped in building trust toward the 44th US President. Even after his resignation Barack Obama continued building his public image by giving lectures and visiting online proms under the coronavirus circumstances. Therefore, a leader’s reputation and behavior in the public eye and the created image are significant for finding and keeping followers.

Personal identity and self-confidence are important for both a leader and a politician. Usually, leading people have a magnetic aura or an interesting background that attracts people to their personality. For example, Barack Obama was the central point of the argument about whether he had been born in America or in Indonesia. Even after the publication of his birth certificate, there were doubts and contradictions that made him even more popular. That is how an interesting past can push the leader’s popularity ahead.

A leader is known for his drive to exercise initiative in social situations. Barack Obama broke many social barriers by legislating one-sex couples’ marriages and being the first black President of the United States. Leaders are important for society to unite people driven by the same idea. Individuals bearing innovative ideas are separated from each other by many factors like living area, religion, and society. People like Barack Obama are here to cultivate those ideas on the governmental level and provide their accomplishments. One of the leader’s roles is to break stereotypical thinking and unify society to create a better world.

Negative Sides of Barack Obama as a Leader

The leader can be as well defined as an effective manager who highlights the core element of leadership – uniting people toward a common goal. Although Barack Obama accomplished some bullet points of his electoral promises, his performance was unsatisfactory. The greatest achievements of the 44th President of the United States are medical insurance policies presented to low-income citizens, the legalization of LGBT marriages, and the normalization of relations with Iran and Cuba. However, this does not cover all the blunders Obama had during his presidency. As a result, Barack Obama is considered by a third of US citizens as the worst American President.

Obama can be characterized more as a public figure but not as a great accomplisher who has a strong drive for responsibility and task completion. Although it is obvious that his election goals are enormous to be achieved by one person, being a leader means taking responsibility for given promises. During his second election campaign, Obama attracted attention to global warming and climate change, but the reality of his second presidency period was that the mentioned problems’ status did not change much. In the modern United States, ecological problems are still urgent but not given a minimum solution. Those facts allow stating that Obama created a great image of himself and earned love through his magnetic aura. However, the 44th President was not a great accomplisher who brought the county to a new stage of economic improvement.

Good leaders are known for encouraging cross-cultural communication and partnership. However, Barack Obama overestimated his chances of establishing diplomatic relations between the United States and Russia as those two countries do not have a friendly attitude toward each other. The defeats need to be compensated by new attempts to succeed. Otherwise, the leading person cannot say that all appropriate measures were taken towards the set goal. In this case, Obama was not purposeful enough to put much effort into the US-Russian possible partnership, and this fact is considered as an allusion to doubt whether the President is reliable or not.

Political Leadership

As Barack Obama was the President of the United States, he can be characterized as a political leader of the American nation as well. The bigger the number of people led by a person, the more responsibility and hope are bestowed to the leader. According to Paquin et al. (2016), the Obama administration has failed to lead the international community. One of the most serious misleads of the President’s policy was his ignorance of the importance of international contacts. Paquin et al. (2016) argue that no one nation – no matter how powerful – can meet global challenges alone. The most serious of Obama’s defeat on the ecological issue was the lack of international integration. That is why political leaders are estimated by their ability to cooperate, involve all available resources in the strategy, and decide what is best for the nation not from their position but as an average citizen. The presence of strategical thinking is also a must, along with strong self-presentation and an appropriate level of knowledge on political issues.

The 44th President of the USA provided an enormous social change in America, although he did not manage to establish a stable economic situation and international relations. Barack Obama is known and admired for breaking stereotypes and being ahead of time. Therefore, Obama is an example of creating personal brands, being innovative, unprejudiced, and tolerant. He matches the concept of an “ideal man” or a hero society needs.

How to Become an Effective Leader

Becoming an effective and efficient leader is a long process of self-development. To be a leading person in the future, I need to change myself in various ways. Firstly, I need to be confident enough to express my opinion, provide evidence to support it, and present myself correctly; I should learn to be eloquent. For self-presentation, some amount of acting technique is relevant; it teaches how to gesticulate, work with the camera, and express emotions politely. Rightly setting goals is the highest priority in my way to leadership. The development of strategical thinking is important for me as well; strategy helps a leader achieve goals and get the wishful outcome. In my opinion, leadership comes with practice. Therefore I should undertake every opportunity to demonstrate myself as a guiding person. A true leader is capable of carrying on a dialogue about everything, and I need to broaden my knowledge. Becoming a leader is not a spontaneous decision; it is a process of self-development and hard work.


Manning, G. (2021). The Art of Leadership. McGraw-Hill.

Paquin, J., Massie, J. & Beauregard, P. (2016). Obama’s leadership style: enabling transatlantic allies in Libya and Mali. Journal of Transatlantic Studies.

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DemoEssays. "Barack Obama as a Leader: Positive and Negative Sides." December 22, 2022.