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How to be like Barack Obama? A look at leadership qualities and personality traits of the President of the United States

Updated on April 14, 2012
Official portrait of Barack Obama
Official portrait of Barack Obama | Source

We've all seen and heard Barack Obama give those hair raising and inspirational speeches. We've also seen him giving picture perfect poses with the leaders of the world. We've seen him in the public eye, with a nearly flawless persona and a charm that few leaders possess. So how does one be like Barack Obama? What are Barack Obama's leadership qualities? What are the personality traits that make him such a popular President of the United States? Why is he so popular amongst the masses? Let's find out.

Note: This article is not politically motivated nor does it aim to promote a particular person or a campaign. The sole purpose of this article is to peek into the glaring qualities and characteristic traits of someone who is in the public eye. Princesswithapen is not affiliated with any person or organization mentioned below.

1) A multi-talented personality

Did you know that Barack Obama understands basic sign language? Not a lot us did until we saw a YouTube of him greeting a deaf man with sign language. He can also speak Indonesian at the basic, conversational level. He was also a member of his high school Basketball team and has been famously pictured shooting hoops at the White House. He has also published a book. He is a Nobel Prize winner. He has worked as a lecturer for more than 10 years. As we can see, Barack Obama is a truly multi-talented personality which makes the masses relate to him in one way or another.

Barack Obama speaks at Cairo University in Cairo. Obama is well known for his exemplary oratory skills. In fact he has also  the first ever President to take questions from citizens in virtual interviews aired live from the White House.
Barack Obama speaks at Cairo University in Cairo. Obama is well known for his exemplary oratory skills. In fact he has also the first ever President to take questions from citizens in virtual interviews aired live from the White House. | Source

2) Excellent oratory skills

One of Barack Obama's biggest assets is his oratory skills. The moment he steps on that podium and looks at the thousands of people waiting to hear the words that come out of his mouth, he seems to feel at home, right in his comfort zone. He speaks clearly, loudly and just at the right pace. It is also unlikely that you will hear too many variations in the pitch and tone of his voice either. All this points towards a confident personality and a man who knows what he is talking about. Oratory skills play a major part in the personality of a public figure and it looks like Mr. Obama has got this base covered from the very beginning.

3) A strong educational background

In the 21st century education, intelligence and knowledge are nearly at par with courage and strength. Barack Obama seems to have hit the nail on the head by combining his extraordinaire interpersonal skills with a strong educational background. In 1983, Obama graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts, majored in political science. It is reported that he specialized in international relations.

It was Harvard Law School for Obama in 1988 from where he graduated with a J.D. He has also taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for about 4 years as a lecturer and 8 years as a senior lecturer up to 2004. Talk about a prolific educational background!

Barack Obama welcomes Shimon Peres in the Oval Office
Barack Obama welcomes Shimon Peres in the Oval Office | Source

4) Building relationships with other leaders and countries

From day 1, Obama seems to have had a clear agenda and a goal which has outlined his relationship with leaders of other foreign countries. He has built terrific relationships with some while he has been stern and business-like with others. A recent example of his relationship building skills were on glaring display when he invited David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK, not only for an elaborate visit to US but also allowing him the pleasure of being the 1st ever foreign leader to fly on board Air Force One. From Basketball games to jovial state dinners, Obama's hospitability towards his ally was on full display to the world's media.

According to MailOnline, Obama even let Cameron use his own bed in Air Force One. Cameron was mentioned this and said "On the way back, it was about four o’clock in the morning UK time, so he said, David, why don’t you use my bed and put your feet up"

Obama addressing a joint session of congress as with Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi in the background.
Obama addressing a joint session of congress as with Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi in the background. | Source

5) Solid posture makes way for picture perfect photographs

Ever since Barack Obama became the President of United States in November 2008, he has been under the public spotlight. We've seen pictures of him in the office at the white house, at ceremonies, on state visits, functions and even while holidaying with family. How often have we ever seen him stooping or carrying a negative body language? How often have we seen him photographed in a pose that he'd later regret? Very rarely!

Most of the times, Obama is pictured standing with a straight back, hands by his sides, open palms, neck straight and a firm overall posture. Even while sitting he maintains a straight back, broad shoulders and most importantly, seldom stoops. A person's body language speaks volumes of his personality and confidence. Obama seems to carry almost the picture perfect body language which makes for a solid pictorial impression.

Obama, Joe Biden and members of the National Security team await updates on Operation Neptune's Spear which was the surgical raid in which Osama Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan.
Obama, Joe Biden and members of the National Security team await updates on Operation Neptune's Spear which was the surgical raid in which Osama Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan. | Source

6) As a leader, Barack Obama has taken tough decisions

"Today, at my direction the United States launched a targeted operation that killed Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al-Qaeda." declared President Obama in a speech on May 1 20011. While intelligence reports were streaming in about Obama's presence in the compound where the raid was conducted, it was a big risk. Who was going to make the call? Who would be willing to bear the responsible for making such a tactical decision that would have a massive repercussion if things didn't go as per plan?

"The man with a backbone of steel", as some people call him, Obama stepped up and took the decision to order a surgical raid and eliminate Osama Bin Laden. This decision, is the stuff of which legends are made of.

7) Leadership quality – A man who keeps his promises

Health care, foreign policy, auto industry, war and economic reform – there have been many promises on which Obama has delivered on. Of course, not all is smooth sailing when you are the President of the world's premier superpower, but Obama has in certain ways lived up to the expectation. Now we all love leaders who keep their promises, don't we?

Obamas at White House Easter Egg Roll
Obamas at White House Easter Egg Roll | Source

8) The image of a family man

Now we all love a leader who is devoted to his family and is a committed parent, don't we? Regularly we've seen Barack and Michelle Obama photographed together. In fact, his entire family functioned as a close knit unit, which is great not only from a PR perspective, but it means that the masses can connect with him being more than just another political candidate. He and Michelle are parents to two daughters, Malia and Sasha.

9) Achievements and awards have strengthened his appeal to the masses

Without a doubt, achievement, awards and laurels go a long way in boosting anyone's public image, let alone Barack Obama. However there is little denying the fact that the long list of awards that this fellow has received has strengthened his stand as a capable leader. From a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 to a Best Spoken Word Album Grammy Award in 2006 for his audio book, Dreams form My Father, Obama has in some ways proved that he is indeed a multi-faceted personality.

So if you really want to learn how to be like Barack Obama, soak in these qualities, leadership skills and the personality traits. Take tough decisions and stand by them. Do what it takes to get the job done. And yes, it is easier said than done!


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