A few months ago, the United States of America elected a new President. The 57th presidential election was held on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. Until the last minute, it was impossible to predict who would win the race. In the first presidential debate, the media hailed Mitt Romney as the debate winner, pointing out his better performance over Barack Obama, who didn't demonstrate his typical charisma and enthusiasm. More than ever, the race seemed tied up, and according to a CNN Poll of Polls released on October 9, Romney has the support of 48% of likely voters, with 47% support for Obama.
Regardless of whom you voted for, presidential elections are a good opportunity for reflection on leadership. What leadership style was typical of the two candidates?
The media had plenty of comments on the personality type and leadership style of both candidates, based either on profile inventories or on popular assessments of the candidates. For our informal reflection, I will share a couple of media comments on the candidates’ leadership styles.
Mitt Romney’s Leadership Style
The following analysis of Mitt Romney’s leadership style is a composite of comments from two different sources:
A psychological profile of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, developed at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics during Romney’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, reveals that the Republican nominee is highly conscientious, with a personality type best described as a dutiful conformist. . . . Leaders fitting this profile are characteristically prudent, proper, dignified, dependable and more principled than other leadership types. Highly organized, with a strong work ethic and careful attention to detail, this presidential style is the epitome of competence in crafting public policy and a deliberative approach to problem solving in the Oval Office. . . . On the downside, conscientious leaders such as Romney, who thrive in a corporate setting, may flounder in a political environment where executive power is constrained by divided government. (http://www.immelman.us/news/mitt-romneys-leadership-style/)
He is a leader with more than one gear. He can delegate, but he also is somebody who comes fully informed in his own right, and can make decisions,” [Tim] Pawlenty detailed. “So he's got the right balance between micromanaging and delegating. I think he's got the sweet spot in between. (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/06/20/romney-campaign-touts-candidate-leadership-style-personal-interactions/)
Barack Obama's Leadership Style
Based on a research project on “The Personality Profile of President Barack Obama: Leadership Implications,” President Obama’s leadership style is described as follows:
The profile revealed that Barack Obama is ambitious and confident; modestly dominant and self-asserting; accommodating, cooperative, and agreeable; somewhat outgoing and congenial; and relatively conscientious. The combination of ambitious and accommodating patterns in Obama’s profile suggests a ‘confident conciliator’ personality composite.
Leaders with this personality prototype, though self-assured and ambitious, are characteristically gracious, considerate, and benevolent. They are energetic, charming, and agreeable, with a special talent for settling differences and a preference for mediation and compromise over force or coercion as a strategy for resolving conflict. They are driven primarily by a need for achievement, but also have substantial affiliation needs and a modest need for power. (http://ecoggins.hubpages.com/hub/Barack-Obamas-Leadership-Styles)
Obama has displayed again and again his calmness no matter the crisis, the name calling of the opposition, and the attacks from both sides of the political spectrum for his policies . . . I believe everything President Obama does is well thought out even when it seems he is doing nothing. He is an active behind the scenes guy consulting his advisors and planning very carefully his words and actions. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joan-e-dowlin/president-obamas-leadersh_1_b_836228.html)