Barack Obama & Martin L.King: the Crossed Fate of Two Emblematic Eaders

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During the second seminar of US Management & Leadership, we have learned concept and theories as motivation, communication, transformational leadership, change, trust and burnout. We had the opportunity to apply such concepts and theories though example and case studies. Leadership implies a sense of listening, making people different. This great definition entails us to talk about two pivotal leaders of the American political movements: Martin Luther King and Barack Obama. The 4th April 1968, 40 years ago Martin Luther King, during an event in Memphis is assassinated. A leader disappears, the myth is taking shape. Today, Barack Obama symbolizes the return of one of the highlights of the twentieth century.

A leader means « having followers, understanding the willing of these followers in order to change things or modify the routine. This is how we can better understand what make Barack Obama the outsider leader, for a whole population in the United States. In what the existence of Martin Luther King was so significant? What legacy did he left behind him? Why the comparison with Barack Obama appears repeatedly?

The aim of this assignment is to present in what way, why and how people considered Barack Obama’s leadership as close to Martin Luther King leadership one.

Along this report we will analyze and evaluate the common points of two leaders from different time identifying the needs of each leader. Then, we will focus on the strategy implemented to meet demand needs analyzing speeches, communication tools and leadership concepts used by both leaders in verbal and physical approaches. Finally, the application of the transformational theory will bring more information about the ability to influence the society to change and the key concepts of charisma and authentic leadership of the two leaders.

I / Analysis of the needs

I - a / Influence of the leadership process

Understanding the needs of the potential followers is a fundamental step to reach them and influence them. There are various psychological conditioning processes to accomplish something, such as financial security happiness, passion, social recognition, ego, etc. Human being has identified internal and external drivers, and everybody is motivated by different elements. In the case of our leaders, they succeeded to regroup people with various personalities around a common interest by pushing the appropriate drivers.

I – b / Followers’ Needs understanding

Regarding MLK:
Faith, love, power
Equal civic rights

Regarding OBAMA:
Common future
Better America

I – c / Leaders’ needs fulfillment

When great leaders address to their followers, they not only answer their followers’ needs but also answer some of their own specific needs. In his acquired-needs theory, David McClelland exposed within “the three need theory” (so called “the learned needs theory”) that an individual's specific needs are acquired over time and are shaped by one's life experiences. Most of these needs can be classified as achievement, affiliation, or power. A person's motivation and effectiveness in certain job functions are influenced by these three needs.

What kind of needs were/are leading Barack Obama and Martin Luther King’s actions?

•Obama’s Need of Power

Both Martin Luther King and Barack Obama needed power. We learnt that power has to be understood as the ability to influence people. To summarize Obama’s sources of power, we can identify his traits of personality, and his behavior. All those elements seem to be linked to the perception the voters have from who he is and what he is willing to accomplished, his perseverance more than based on facts and concrete results.

•Obama’s Personality traits

The personality traits are the elements issues from the birth and which determine the personal development and the personality traits. Obama’s family background is quite unique, as the same time it allows a...
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