Thursday, June 26, 2008


In my last post we looked at what we could learn from Barack Obama as leaders. Here is the second installment.

When Obama began his campaign, he was realistic about his chances of success. He knew that it would take a lot for him to win his party's nomination. The one thing he really understood was the fact that delegates and not popular vote decided the nominee. This understanding shaped his campaign's strategy. He competed wherever he could pick up delegates and also challenged his opponents in the more traditional battle grounds. He won eleven straight victories after super-Tuesday in small states and picked up a lot of delegates putting him ahead of Hillary Clinton. Clinton thought it would be over on February 5th and never had a plan for February 6th, therefore, she lost the nomination fight.

As a leader you must face reality if you are to succeed. Do not be deluded by your won ambitions but critically look at your chances of success.
Secondly, formulate a winning strategy and execute it with precision and patience. Strategy is simply a plan for fulfilling your end result. It has specific action steps and measurable goals which are implemented on a daily and consistent basis. Strategy is what separates Great leaders from good ones.

Innovation is simply something new or the introduction of new methodologies and the Obama campaign had no shortage of this. They used the Internet to raise funds for their campaign at a rate never seen in U.S. politics. Obama raised millions of dollars by engaging the common man. He invited donations of 3,5, and 10 dollars. All of a sudden an ordinary American felt part of the political landscape and part of a Movement. The Internet also helped the campaign make a family on the web that allowed hundreds of thousands of people to know exactly what was happening next in the campaign. This also became a pool of talent that the campaign used to get volunteers as well as big crowds at events.

As a leader, you must innovate or you and your organization will die. We live in a world that is constantly changing and doing so at a very fast pace. Your organization has to embrace new ways of doing things and meet your customers where they are. Innovation is the life-line that will ensure your survival as a leader and as an organization. Many leaders get comfortable doing things the same way as long as its working for them. If it ain't broken, don't fix it; right? WRONG!
This may have been alright 15 years ago but the current market climate will not forgive such a misconception. You have to constantly evaluate yourself and your organization and ask the tough question: Can we do it better? Can I be better?
This kind of thinking is what is propelling companies such as Apple, Google, Microsoft and so many other entrepreneurs.

In the heat of a campaign, Obama maintained his focus on the issues that mattered most to him. He did not answer every critic but rather chose the important issues to handle. He had a few challenges especially with the incident involving his ex-pastor but even this was a lesson for the campaign and I think he learnt that when problems come up, deal with them promptly other wise they will derail your focus. When this issue subsided he called his staff and confessed to them the loss of focus and put the whole organization back on track to winning the nomination. This is what great leaders do.

As a leader,understand that you are not superman or wonder woman; you are human and as such will make loads of mistakes and may lose focus. Focus is essential to your success and must be closely checked. Remind yourself of why you are leader and why you are doing what you are doing as an organization. This will help you maintain focus. Keep your eyes on the prize. Here are some distractions to your focus:

a. Criticism: Don't take this to heart. Learn how to objectively take criticism even when you know that the critic maybe be wrong.
b. Ego: Get "yourself" out of the way. You are not the center of attention nor does your organization and staff exist to serve you.
c. Failure: Learn how to successfully fail. Failure is not really a bad thing because it allows you to make adjustments to your strategy. However, many people don't know how to take this. They think that failure is a death sentence and this kind of thinking throws your focus off. Learn how to successfully fail.
d. Unclear goals: Your goals should be crystal clear otherwise you will lose focus. Know what you want, how you want to get there and what it will take to get there. Your goals should address these areas.

These are just a few things I learnt from Obama. They have helped me and am sure will help you also in your leadership. Keep on leading and stay the course.

Live to Succeed

1 comment:

hiya said...

This is simply great. keep it up.