The President of the United States is known in all corners of the globe as the leader of the free world. This means that President Obama is supposed to be the leader not just of America, but the entire free world; a fact that proves the maxim that an individual can be in a leadership position but not be a leader. While President Obama has been the leader of the free world—at least in name—the size of the free world has shrunk. A leader is an individual who: 1) has a vision,2) is able to inspire others to commit to the vision, and 3) can rally people to work together to achieve the vision. This is not a description of the man who has been America’s president for the past six years.
If President Obama has a vision for America, I don’t know what it is unless it is to undermine our nation and transform it into a second-rate, globally-subservient has-been that is economically and morally bankrupt. If this is his vision, he has supporters: radical liberals and so-called progressives. Of course, it took no convincing to get these groups on board with his nefarious vision—it was their vision too even before Barack Obama became president. As to rallying people to work together toward achieving his vision, President Obama has done nothing but divide the American people and unite America’s enemies. Clearly, America’s current president could benefit from a short course titled Leadership 101. To prime the pump, I have used this column to provide five brief leadership lessons for the president.
Lesson 1: Well Done is Better than Well Said
For leaders, words are nice but action is better. Ultimately, leaders are judged by what they do not what they say. In addition, leaders inspire others to commit to their vision and rally others to help achieve the vision more by their actions than their words. Words can help, but actions speak louder than words. This is a lesson President Obama would do well to learn. He is comfortable standing behind a podium and reading from a teleprompter, but he appears to believe that having said something is the same as having done it. To him words are action. They aren’t. Vladimir Putin is teaching Barack Obama this lesson right now all the way from the Crimea.
Lesson 2: Unite Your Allies and Divide Your Enemies
Every leader has allies and enemies. A leader’s allies are those who support the vision and want to help ensure it is achieved. A leader’s enemies are his or her detractors who do not buy into the vision and who work overtly or covertly to prevent achievement of it. Since taking office as president, Barack Obama has done just the opposite of this: He has divided America’s allies (as well as the American people) and united our enemies. This is why a comparatively weak country such as Russia can invade the Crimea and force a point-of-the-gun election while the United States is forced to sit back and listen to its president make idle threats that Vladimir Putin knows he can ignore.
Lesson 3: Lead by Example
How many times over the past six years have you heard President Obama express sympathy for Americans who have experienced a natural disaster or some other form of trauma or loss and then leave the next day for a vacation? When residents of the Northeast were left without power, food, water, and homes by a devastating hurricane followed by a freezing winter storm, President Obama showed his empathy by taking a multi-million dollar vacation to Hawaii. This type of self-interested, self-serving behavior is the opposite of leading by example. A president who leads by example would have suffered along with the storm victims in New York by at least cancelling his Hawaiian vacation and spending some time in the trenches with them. President Obama visited the devastated region long enough to stage a photo op for the press, then he headed to sunny Hawaii.
Lesson 4: Inspire, Persuade, and Influence, but Don’t Coerce
Leaders are often in positions to force people to do their bidding, but this is misleading not leading. Good leaders inspire, persuade, and influence. Building the relationships, providing the example, and earning the respect necessary to be able to inspire, persuade, and influence others to rally around the vision takes time and effort. Coercion requires nothing but being in a leadership position. President Obama has not invested the time or effort needed to build the relationships with key Congressional leaders or the American people necessary to inspire, persuade, or influence them to rally around his agenda. Because of this he has formed an unfortunate habit: ruling by executive order. Putting aside the fact that a weak-kneed Congress allows him to get away with this, rule by executive fiat has no place in a Republican Democracy. It is tyranny and antithetical to how the Founders established our nation.
Lesson 5: Be Willing to Admit You Made a Mistake
Because leaders are people they are fallible. Being that they are imperfect, leaders make mistakes. Consequently, it is important that leaders be willing to admit it when they make a mistake. Leaders must be able to say “mea culpa” and reverse course when it is obvious they made a mistake. President Obama forced the misnamed Affordable Care Act (AFA) through a partisan Congress with not even one Republican vote. Even those Americans who agreed that the healthcare system needed to be reformed sensed that Obamacare was not the answer. Then the rollout of Obamacare proved that their misgivings were valid. Since that time some new problem with the ACA turns up every day. In spite of this, President Obama keeps changing the rules, delaying implementation, and putting on a happy face for the American public, but refuses to admit that the ACA was a mistake. He is unwilling to admit that although America’s healthcare system needs to be reformed, the ACA is not the answer. Like those who are better called misleaders, President Obama clings to the fiction that the ACA is worthy legislation for the sole reason that it was his idea.
Vladimir Putin may be a tyrant and a bully, but the people of Russia know where he stands. He has a vision for re-establishing the Soviet Union and he has rallied the Russian people around that vision. Further, he is taking action while America’s president takes vacations and continues to mouth empty words.