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American President Barack Obama Leader Style - Leading in Time of Crisis?

Updated on January 3, 2015

In his acceptance speech, then American President-elect Barack Obama promised a new type of leadership style. Right out of the gates, the new American president showed some real promise. In his first 100 days, he made a real attempt to fulfill his campaign promises (at least the one's he could control). He staffed his economic team with an experienced set of advisors and dove into America's biggest problems with vigor and a mild sense of political savvy. However, wars for pet projects like the healthcare measure took their toll and the president seemed beat down by the political wrangling and gridlock in Washington.

President Obama Unable to Break Washington Gridlock

An informal poll by this writer from mid-2010 to present day showed that the American public believed President Obama had not made a dent in the countries biggest woes. Those woes included (a) the economy and jobs and (b) the remaking of Washington politics. One of the biggest knocks against President Obama was that he spent too much time in front of the cameras rather than behind his desk getting the job done.

2011 Debt Ceiling Crisis Taxing President Obama's Leadership Style and Prowess

Perhaps no situation in his two and a half years in the White House taxed President Obama's leadership style and prowess as the Summer 2011 Debt Celing Crisis. Indeed, in the weeks and days leading up to the perilous August 2, 2011 deadline, the young president from Illinois reverted to making address after address, plea after plea for Republicans in Congress to compromise and act in the best interests of the country. But all his pleading, even begging, could not do one thing to move the representatives on Capital Hill to act in a cohesive manner. In fact, his daily media blitzes seemed to deplete his leadership authority with the American people.

President Obama Leadership Losing Credibility

As Obama continued to take the debate out into the public, he lost credibility as a leader. Simply put, with every new attempt to use Ronald Reagan's bully pulpit, President Obama showed he was not large and in charge, but rather leading from behind. It seemed that, if the president believed raising the debt ceiling was so important, he should have stopped whining and begging and take bold action.

President Obama Stop Pleading and Start Leading

Apparently on June 30, Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida, declared that U.S. President Obama would have to use his constitutional right under the 14th amendment to pay the country’s bills if no debt deal was made by Aug 2. This is exactly what he should do. Of course, it could lead to a censure even an impeachment charge by Congress, but the president has been voted into the highest office in the land in order to lead not whine. So if he truly believes that raising the debt ceiling is in the best interest of the country and the world economy, American President Barack Obama should stop calling press conferences, quietly retreat to his desk in the Oval Office, write an executive order, and then move the country on to the next debate. Even if he is called on the carpet for it, President Obama would show his leadership style is one as an executive chief of bold action in the face of tough problems, not one of whining and blaming others.

Update: Short-term Gain; Long-term Pain

So as of Sunday, July 31, 2011, the president and the leaders from Cogress had worked out a tentative deal to raise the debt ceiling. According to President Obama's campaign committee, the tentative deal to raise the debt ceiling allows the ceiling to be raised $2.1 trillion in the near term while proposing a deficit decrease of $1.0 trillion over the next 10 years (when President Obama and most of the senior leaders in the Congress will be out of office).

Here is what the plan supposedly does for America and the world,

  • Removes economic uncertainty surrounding the debt limit at a critical time and prevents either party from using a failure to meet our obligations for political gain.
  • Makes a significant down payment to reduce the deficit -- finding savings in defense and domestic spending while protecting critical investments in education and job creation.
  • Creates a bipartisan commission to find a balanced approach to continue this progress on deficit reduction.
  • Establishes an incentive for both sides to compromise on historic deficit reduction while protecting Social Security, Medicare beneficiaries, and programs that help low-income families.
  • Follows through on President Obama's commitment to shared sacrifice by making sure that the middle class, seniors, and those who are most vulnerable do not shoulder the burden of reducing the deficit. As the process moves forward, the President will continue to insist that the wealthiest Americans share the burden.

All this amounts to is more spending, more paychecks for the president and Congress and no significant progress towards a reduction in Washington spending and party politics as usual. In essence, there is a short-term gain for the world financial markets, but the long-term pain is still ahead. Seems like business as usual in Washington politics. We need better leadership than this.


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      to where?

    • ecoggins profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Corona, California

      wba108@yahoo and Sweetsusieg, Thank you both for your comments. I appreciate your insights and encouragement. Sweetsusieg the President is in fact elected to lead. As I pointed out in other hubs, this is an extraordinary task that perhaps is at this time beyond the capability of one man. Certainly, we are seeing the limitations of the office of the American presidency. Still, elected to lead he was and lead he must. Right now, President Obama seems more like the referee of a Globetrotter's game(attempting to get both sides to play fair without much respect from either side) than master chef.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image


      8 years ago from Michigan

      I agree with - we don't often get to hear a break down of what is happening. I appreciate the time and effort you have put into this Hub!!

      Regardless of whether we approve or disapprove of our President, he is here to lead us, something that I have yet to see. He needed to take the bull by the horns and do what a President is supposed to do. Or as my husband says "He is the Master Chef of the whole damned dinner, we are not at a do it yourself BBQ, it's time for him to shut up and cook".. Well he did say that!!

    • profile image 

      8 years ago from upstate, NY

      Thank you for providing insights into issues important but not often discussed about the inner workings of the office of the president. After all, the president must be an excellent leader and administrator to accomplish his goals. Leaders are suppose to lead according to their conviction and not be overly concerned about what others think. I agree with your sentiments about the debt agreements, it was short sighted and bad for the long term interests of the country. Spending cuts have to be loaded on the front end or they'll never happen. WBA

    • ecoggins profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Corona, California

      The Frog Prince, I always appreciate your comments and insights. Thank you for sharing them. It appears at least at this moment that you are right.

    • The Frog Prince profile image

      The Frog Prince 

      8 years ago from Arlington, TX

      First if all, he staffed his economic team with a bunch of Keynesian economists. That might work a little while in a society geared toward socialism but not capitalism.

      Obama isn't a leader. He never has been and probably never will be. This wasn't the time in our nation's history to be "on the job training" anyone without the experience and qualifications it takes to run this nation. He has neither and it is quite apparent.

      He seems intent on waging a class warfare and trying to scare people into believing he has the answers, which he doesn't. He may be a good community organizer and be able to rouse the rabble but beyoned that he is like a fish out of water flopping every which way. A leader? You have to be kidding me....

      The Frog


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