Leadership Profiles of Obama and Romney

On October 18, Jena McGregor, in the Washington Postʻs On Leadership blog series, summarizes the way Mitt Romneyʻs leadership style is being examined, as opposed to President Obamaʻs.

“If the leadership profiles of Barack Obama tend to be organized around the characteristics for which the president is most known—his pragmatism, his penchant for compromise, his coolness—the ones about Mitt Romney tend to follow the chapters of his life.” (Natural, given that Obama has a visible record in the White House, and Romneyʻs is a projection of future possibilities — these different approaches become measures of leadership styles in every  election.)

She offers some great links to the highlights of leadership lessons from different eras of Romneyʻs life, where he learned to face rejection, learned how to navigate politics, learned at his fatherʻs knee. Then she highlights the few that donʻt depend on the limited biographical summary (limited because our biographical stories can be read in so many ways, spun like cotton candy into many shapes!)

She links to three stories (go to her blog and read them — itʻs fascinating…) that look at
-the way heʻs reacting to his fatherʻs campaign mistakes
-the way dark moments shaped his personality
-the way his roles in the Mormon church trained him to lead

As the day looms when we push the “Yes” button for our favorite candidate, this is the kind of resource we need to see beyond the candy fluff of biographical spin and the “he said”/ “he said” of the candidates words reported in the headlines.

Iʻve had enough of quotes from the candidates telling me what I have already decided to believe, or not to believe. Itʻs ALWAYS time for a change, isnʻt it? Even the incumbent President says that. I KNOW the economy is growing slowly — operant word for me is growing, operant word for others is slowly! Itʻs all in the ear of the follower.  I KNOW the answers are complex, and canʻt be reduced to these sound byte promises or zingers! But itʻs all so — weirdly compelling, even though it says next to nothing about leadership ability.

My head is spinning — until I take a deep breath and dive into more complicated analysis. I highly recommend going deeper as a way of waking up from the barrage of headline sound bytes. If leadership were really about sound bytes — then everything would fast forward with such elocutionary clarity, such manipulative finesse, such apocalyptic decisiveness! We would wake up dead before we knew it!

No good can come of that.

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