Leadership Lesson – Democratic Nominee – Part 1

There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America – there’s the United States of America. – Barack Obama

I have been studying the leadership characteristics of the leading candidates for presidency. I find it fascinating to watch the different approaches and styles and see the impact each has on both voters and those who are part of the inner workings of the campaigns.

Hillary Cinton 2This morning as I was reading another analysis of the recently concluded Democratic campaigns, I was struck by two simple differences between the campaign of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The first is design of their teams. Senator Clinton’s team was made up of lfriends and political operatives who have long history with the Clintons. This team was thought to be the best in the Democratic party and is well known for its past successes. It could rightly be said that they almost pulled of a success this time around as well. Yet as the dust settles and the results are now clear , they did not make it across the finish line. This team operated with a hub and spoke approach. All key decisions were made at the center and communicated to the field for execution. I have watch the decline of this style over the past 15 years and some of its challenges showed up on this campaign.

barack obamaFor one thing, who knows better what the needs of Iowans are than Iowans. By sharing information about the campaign’s supporters and contributors with its grass roots organization, the Obama team placed one of a campaign’s most precious assets , its supporter information, in the hands of those it didn’t directly control. This approach is new in national politics and proved effective.

In no case did you hear of this trust being violated by this information being inappropriately shared with others. In the Tao it is written, “Look with trust and you will find it” is one of the most powerful axioms that any leader can instill in their team and it appears that Senator Obama has been a great example for us all in this regard.

Another stark difference is how money was spent. In the Clinton campaign, Hillary’s key spokesman Howard Wolfson’s firm was paid $266,000 for a month’s worth of service, while Senator Obama’s spokesman was paid $144,000 for the past twelve months. There are numerous examples of this new approach to how to fiscally operate a campaign in an excellent article in Time Magazine website, titled, How he did it.

I will write more over the next month on the lesson learned from the Democratic race and what we can learn from it as leaders.

Until later,


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