6 Reasons why Obama’s votes count more than those on American Idol

Posted by on January 28, 2010 in Blog, Uncategorized | 0 comments

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I woke up this morning to screen-shots and clips of Barack Obama’s SOTU speech and I’m still astounded that a year ago he was heralded by all in sundry as the saviour of the universe – but in true American style, the very folks that elevated him have been slating him. His ratings have been lower than GW’s!! But if we’re going to decide Leadership purely on ratings and number of votes, then perhaps American Idol wannabees can take a few lessons from Barack Obama. Here’s why.

Obama’s primary interest is not popularity or fame or aligning to the whim of the moment. His interest lies in doing the right thing – for the future. He has a longer term vision than the now. And isn’t it America’s obsession with the now – the instant – that got us where we are in the first place? Excerpts from the State of the Union address show glimpses that Barack Obama has not forsaken his pre-election promises for popularity. This could explain why his ratings have been at an all time low. Americans for the most part suffer from gold-fish memory.

It’s this gold-fish memory that elevates ordinary people with average talent to crowd the top of the Billboard music charts as a result of Idols. Where are they today? Mass hysteria lead to them being voted “top dog” and then promptly forgotten.

Here are some extracts from Obama’s State of the Union address and why I think these make him a memorable and worthy Leader – worthy of more than the popular vote.

“How long should we wait? How long should America put its future on hold?  While Obama is cautious in his actions, he has an urgency that true leadership in today’s world requires. He won’t rush into change for the sake of it, but he will not sit back and wait unnecessarily.

"Well I do not accept second place for the United States of America…"  He has a drive to be #1. To deliver his country (read organisation) to be the preferred place to be. To attract talent, to be the head of a leading country, a leading company, a leading team. He aspires to greatness and wants his followers to do the same. More than that, this sends a strong message that as a leader he’s inspirational and will not accept second best.

“Because the more products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we support right here in America  As a business leader, he understands that it’s all about revenue. Your competitors won’t send you money – ever – only your customers will. By focusing on the sales and export function he places emphasis on the fiscal. He’s keeping his eye on the bottom-line!

"Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years. Spending related to our national security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will not be affected. But all other discretionary government programs will. Like any cash-strapped family, we will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrifice what we don’t   Need I say more? Governments the world over seem to have adopted a policy of uncontrolled spending in the belief that one day the money will come to relieve the debt. Kind of like a lot of households. Obama refuses to accept willy-nilly spending, but will still invest and spend money where it is required and in areas that serve his overall vision. Companies can learn from this when they cut spending on core functions and future-directed actions (like training) but continue to pay inflated salaries.

“Let’s invest in our people without leaving them a mountain of debt. Let’s meet our responsibility to the citizens who sent us here. Let’s try common sense.  Investing in people?! Now there’s a message close to my heart. Increasingly companies are cutting employee numbers, expecting the remaining staff to do more with less. To the detriment of employee health, customer service and company health.

"I campaigned on the promise of change – change we can believe in, the slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren’t sure if they still believe we can change – or at least, that I can deliver it.Obama sticks to his campaign promises – unheard of for most politicians – but at the same time he’s willing to admit humanness, and (to an extent) his shortcomings thus far in meeting the ideals he promised. He takes responsibility – by using the word I – for what he promised to achieve but has not yet done so. At no point does he defer accountability. At no point does he make excuses! That is something every leader should take heed of.

Why don’t you put your company leadership and your politicians, or even your manager to the same test? What would they score out of these 6 principles?

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