Ideas on paper

Thoughts by José Luis Agell

Learning from Obama

President Obama is in the spotlight of everybody. His ascension to the presidency of the United States was amazing, but more amazing was his ability to arouse the enthusiasm of the people. He reached the sky in a very tough moment (Iraq, economic crisis, weak international image,…), that’s why every single step will be carefully analysed.

I recently read an interesting article on Forbes about what we can learn from Obama’s first weeks in office.  The author translates Obama’s attitudes to the corporate world and mentions three ideas that managers should do and two that should avoid. 

Have a Strong Brand and Position in the World. Obama is trying to re brand the nation by closing of the Prison at Guantanamo and encouraging the rest of the world to look to America as a benevolent partner.

Don’t Lose Sight of the Long Term. The new government is reinforcing the relationship with China, a key player in the future of USA and the rest of the world.

Manage Expectations.President Obama has showed a sensible consciousness about the difficulty of this moment and has continually lowered expectations about his ability to right the economy quickly. 


Build Consensus, But Don’t Let a Minority Hijack the Majority. The author thinks that Obama has invested too much effort in integrating conservative voices in his government because this slows the decision-making process. I personally, don’t agree in considering the conservative voices as a minority since they represented around 45,7% of the votes in the last election.

Conduct Superior Due Diligence, Repeatedly.According to the author, the President has damaged his reputation by approving and retracting afterwards some of the candidates for Cabinet positions, like Bill Richardson or Tom Daschle.

Besides the subjective judgements of the author, I agree in the fact that the crisis will be only overcome by superior leaders, managers and entrepreneurs. Politicians and corporate managers are now on the same boat and can learn from each other.

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