Yes, We Can Change—New Chief Shows How

One of the many reasons why President-Elect Obama inspires hope around the world is because of what he’s shown us so far of his abilities to be a profoundly effective leader of change.  A few thoughts here on some of the critically important principles he demonstrated to awesome effect in his victorious campaign, as evidenced in his acceptance speech in Chicago’s Grant Park on November 4th:

Small wins: 

“Above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way its been done in America for 221 years: block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.”

The simple idea here is that, as a leader of change, you don’t conquer a big mountain in a single leap but, rather, in small steps, with that momentous goal always clearly in mind.

Realistic yet hopeful view of what lies before us:

“The road ahead will be long.  Our climb will be steep…There will be setbacks and false starts.”

“We will get there.  I promise you, we as a people will get there.”

Obama’s words give everyone a realistic appraisal of the difficulties of today and tomorrow while, at the same time, renouncing the prophets of gloom and bringing our collective attention to what’s possible when we all commit to a common goal.

Sustainable change comes from the bottom up:

“I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to—it belongs to you…This is your victory!”

The successful leader of change must give full voice and credit to those whose lives are affected.

A call to action:

“This victory is the chance to change.  It cannot happen without you.  Each of us must resolve to work harder…We rise and fall as one nation, as one people.”

No vision statement is complete unless it has embedded in it a direct implication for action among all those who are part of it.

A reminder of who we are and what we stand for:

“The true genius of America is that we can change.”

In these few words our President-Elect reminds us and the world that our nation remains a beacon of hope and freedom because the fact of his arrival is itself the very signal that our system is self-correcting without violence.

What leadership lessons did you learn from Obama’s momentous words in accepting his victory in the campaign for the Presidency of the United States of America?

6 Responses to “Yes, We Can Change—New Chief Shows How”

  1. Dan Schawbel says:

    Stew, this is a great topic and the way you broke the post down makes it very easy to read.

    I would say that “small wins” are very important because things take time. I usually recommend that people develop short-term and long-term goals because if you have “small wins” it will boost your confidence for reaching your end goals!

    Great job.

  2. David Dunham says:

    Professor Friendman,

    I really enjoyed reading this. It is a great choice of a very public figure using some of the key elements we have discussed in class. Now if you could only teach me how to bring the enthusiasm so much of our country has for Obama to my very red state, Oklahoma, I would greatly appreciate it…

  3. George Carter says:

    In your blog, you cite what really made President-elect Obama’s message so effective. His ability to empower the public by tying us all to his many vicotries (and this year we witnessed a slew of victories for him.) Great job

  4. Juan Cervantez says:

    This is an interesting post about some of the more powerful themes in Barack Obama’s speech. I never really looked at it from a management or leadership kind of perspective but it clearly fits, especially for this speech.

  5. RJ Stafford says:

    It was very interesting to read. I think one of Barack’s best leadership qualities might be his drive towards unity. From his words and ideas, it seems clear that he doesn’t think in terms of right and left . He is intent on including everyone in a solution that is realistic and positive for the nation as a whole, never just satisfying his party. This is both refreshing, and the mark of someone who can truly be a transformational leader in this country.

  6. Ramamurthy P says:

    Dear Stew,
    It is really great mapping of the speech of President-Elect Obama to Total Leadership. This mapping is as inspiring as of the speech by the President-Elect Obama.

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