April 14th 2011
Roel van Beek
From the moment people live in groups, leaders exist. Although groups can function without, the leader role is usually the first to emerge. Especially large groups are in need for one to make rules clear, keep members informed, and make group decisions (Forsyth, 2006). Leadership is does not necessarily mean power. A leader of a group has more power with people than over people. A transformational leader for instance heightens group members’ motivation, confidence and satisfaction by uniting members and changing their beliefs, values and needs (Burns, 2003). In October 2008, a few weeks before the presidential elections in the US, Colin Powell declared he supported Barack Obama because he thought of him as “transformational”. Forsyth (2005) defined a transformational leader as to be self-assured, determined, eloquent and enthusiastic. After analyzing Barack Obama in his behavior and appearances over the last years, many typical examples of transformational leadership can be found. Guided by the four components of transformational leadership (Bass, 1995) we will discuss examples of transformational leadership by Barack Obama.
1. Idealized influence
Leaders express their conviction clearly and emphasize the importance of trust. Whenever something happens, like Fox News reporters who were beaten in Tahrir Square (1.1), the disaster with the mines in Virginia (1.2) and something nice like a soccer championship (1.3) Obama shows that he supports people and he encourages people to continue their good work. He also emphasizes that everybody is family, so he stimulates the group feeling. This shows that Obama’s conviction is that people are equal and he has a lot of trust in people. Obama made some controversial decisions. For instance he ignored the DOMA (law that made...
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