Obama's 20 Secrets of Success and what you can learn from him
Since Barack Obama was elected U.S. President, people around the world have wondered about his rapid success, and how he climbed from a community organizer to law professor to the most powerful person in the world in only a few years. Many ask:
Why is Barack Obama so successful?
How does he do it?
Why is he so popular?
What can we learn from him?
What are the 'secrets' of his success?
While every successful person has their own path, here are 20 secrets of his global success:
Barack Obama says what he does, and does what he says.
The president does not promise miracles, but starts a dialogue about potential solutions. He consistently goes one level deeper than many other politicians who stay confined to talking points. He is topic oriented and does not preach ideologically.
2. Unpleasant truths are expressed
Obama does not tell anyone just what they want to hear. This was felt most recently by the strong pro-Israel lobby and Prime Minister Netanyahu, but also by the Iranian President Ahmadinejad. He can also say no in a friendly but firm manner, making his opposition to a matter clear.
3. No fear of resistance
Obama is courageous. In his first 100 days, he signed controversial orders - like the closing of Guantanamo Bay and the ending of the use of torture - even against strong opposition in the US. The same is true for other hard issues like Afghanistan and Pakistan, Russia or Iraq; his actions show that he is not afraid of resistance to his policies and is willing to push them through.
4. He listens
In speeches, meetings, and major decisions, President Obama has shown that he actively listens to his counterparties on every issue, engages their opinions, and understands their perspective. His speeches are more effective because he can summarize opposing views. He gives attention to all who make opinions, even those he strongly disagrees with.
5. Open for other opinions and a dialogue
The president's leadership style is inclusive and conciliatory; he includes others and encourages dialogue to come to a stronger understanding.
6. Not a cynic or power monger
Obama justifies his actions by openly speaking of ideals and norms, convincing others by sharing visions for a better world. He does not linger on petty political issues or on expanding his own power, but uses his power as President - the most powerful position in the world - to pursue his ideals.
7. Is at rest in his family and acts as a role model for his children
President Obama takes support from his family and particularly his well-educated, articulate wife. Together, they are the picture of an egalitarian, 21st century couple. Barack Obama is a responsible father who shows his daughters by example what they can achieve with hard work, intelligence, and determination.
8. Goes into depth and gets to the bottom of issues
Barack Obama's positions on issues are not just simple convictions, spilled "from the gut", but are carefully formed opinions, examined by his curious, questioning mind. By asking the right questions and opnely hitting on the key points of contention, Obama goes beyond sound bytes to dive deep into the core of issues.
9. Sees himself as a person - and not as a superior American
When you see yourself as superior to others, regardless of where you are from, you destroy your own ability to relate to others and gain their respect. What the world needs in all its leaders are responsible global citizens. Barack Obama is a global citizen, and interacts with people of other countries as equals - not as inferiors to be pushed around.
10. Surrounds himself with the best advisors
Before and after the election, Obama chose true experts as his advisors to help write policy and to hold key cabinet positions. After winning, he opened up an application process for positions in the administration and made decisions based on merit instead of just political loyalty. By hiring the best experts, even those - like Hilary Clinton and Robert Gates - that could have been rivals, he puts divisions behind him and profits from talented experts giving sound advice.
11. Delegates responsibility
Like any good manager, the President has to be able to delegate work and responsibility to others. Obama does this; he does not micromanage his cabinet, but gives them enough free rein to do their jobs. He stays informed about all fields, but lets others take initiative and responsiblity.
12. Is open to imagination and new ways
Especially in foreign policy, Barack Obama has shown that he can reevaluate old ways and come up with better solutions. On Cuba, Obama has already started a process to encourage political reform as an alternative to the ineffective embargo. In his dialogue offers to countries in the Middle East, he may already have changed the game and started paving the way for real cooperation. The best example of this is his now famous Cairo speech to the Islamic world.
13. Has a multi-agenda which he works on concurrently and systematically
Even while pursuing time-consuming domestic initiatives - like the healthcare insurance reform that he campaigned on - President Obama continues to work on pressing global issues like nuclear proliferation, global warming, etc. He does not let himself get sidetracked from these tasks, but stays focused on each issue at the same time.
14. Maintains his naturalness and calmness
Even in the most difficult situations, Obama keeps a cool composure and an easygoing, natural manner. This shows him as a leader and establishes confidence among those who see him.
15. Speaks to the hearts of the people
Barack Obama inspires people. With his personal story and his appeals to people's morals and ideals, he makes supporters out of skeptics.
16. Has a solid moral anchor in the free values of the United States of America and the constitution
In his inauguration speech, Obama echoed the thoughts of founding father Benjamin Franklin, saying "we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals". This refusal to compromise on America's democratic values and civil freedoms, even for supposed security, sets Obama apart and establishes him as a strong defender of freedom.
17. Sees other countries not as enemies but as partners of America
Barack Obama has taken on a cooperative approach with other countries on several issues, trading the old confrontation with the rest of the world for a new engagement. Through NATO and other alliances, America has a strong circle of allies, which Obama has chosen to share responsibility with, e.g. on Afghanistan.
18. Recognizes the boundaries of American power
President Obama has explicitly stated that America's unique power position in the world has limits and that America's foreign policy has to be revised accordingly.
19. Is engaging to the outside but strong and assertive within
Barack Obama is receptive to voices from outside America and has the political influence to turn concerns into actual policy within.
20. He embodies the new world of globalization
At only 47, Obama is fresh and young, like the majority of movers and shakers around the globe representing the new leadership generation and responsible elite in the 21st century and their values, dreams and hopes.
* German entrepreneur Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann is founder and President of the www.worldsecuritynetwork.com Foundation and www.codesoftolerance.com in London