I interrupted my writing of an article on human physical diversity to write this short piece following the announcement of President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize. My background in leadership and communication practices is briefly outlined under the About section of this blog. To be frank, I was literally ‘blown away’ as they say following the delivery of his June 2009 speech in Cairo to the Muslim world and submitted an Op-Ed piece regarding his command of specific leadership and communication skills that are used in building commitment. It has been published on this blog (see ‘Understanding Obama’s Appeal: Leadership and Communication Skills’).
For far too long America has used positional leadership practices, ie dictating from a position of power, in its dealings around the world. This leadership style is known to be poor at developing commitment, can cause hard feelings, resentment and can even result in an atmosphere of fear and mistrust. President Obama approached the Muslim audience from the perspective of meeting upper level human needs, a leadership style that builds commitment and forms trust. This leadership style, especially coming from the leader of the free world, should be a door opener for starting dialogue towards peace and conflict resolution.
Colin Powell, in his support of Mr. Obama’s candidacy, described him as a ‘transformational figure’. The broad-based acceptance he enjoys at both home and abroad is evidence of a leadership style that indeed can transcend cultures and unite diverse groups. Although early in his presidency, my belief is that this award is recognition of those skill sets and will hopefully bolster his credentials in uniting people both at home and abroad. But with this award he also carries a heavy burden of expectation and he deserves and needs our support if we are to be successful in further uniting mankind. He indeed opened the door for dialogue with his Cairo speech – may all take the opportunity to step through it.