Things I'm learning from Barack Obama


Things I'm learning from Barack Obama

As a leader, I struggle to get feedback about how I'm doing. I almost never get told anything good or bad about decisions I've made, plans I've devised, things I've said. People are remarkably quiet to their leaders. I know this is true because I'm quiet to my leaders a lot of the time.

I don't know why it is but I hardly ever tell those above how they are doing. I guess I think that they know. There are always those 'other' people who will speak up right? my leader doesn't need me to add my voice. However; I know, and have known for a long time, this isn't the case and leaders are often left in the dark about how they are doing.

It's a scary place to be for a leader, or at least it is for me. I make decisions all the time and I get no feedback about how they have gone down with people. Sometimes I know that a choice I make will disappoint some but I never seem to hear. Maybe I'm lucky or something but I don't think so. I would rather hear if I've made a bad call. At least I would get a chance to address it.

I'm reading a book called Barack, Inc* that takes a look at the lessons business people can learn from the Obama '08 election campaign. One of the lessons is how to 'be cool' as in calm and collected -  don't blow your temper. As part of the lesson - which is excellent and should be read - leaders are encouraged to actively seek feedback from everyone. Obama makes a point in every meeting of getting feedback from everyone at the table. If you haven't spoken up for a while, he will look at you and say "I haven't heard from you". Apparently Ed Kock, past Mayor of New York would ask everyone he met "How am I doin'?"

I like this idea of actively seeking feedback. I'm going to try it out and see how I get on. I'm sure it won't all be positive and that will make me not want to ask again but the point is to become a better person and leader. I don't have to agree with everything people say. Listening to everyone will at least help me keep a finger on the pulse of the world around me and that has to be a good thing for everyone.

*B, Libert; R, Faulk (2009) Barack, Inc, Pearson Education Ltd, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

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