Analysis Of Leadership Styles Politics Essay

23 Mar 2015

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This report was commissioned to represent comparative analysis of leadership styles of two presidents of the United States of America that is one ex-president George W. Bush and current president Barack H. Obama. The object of discussion is to compare and contrast leadership qualities of both presidents based on basic leadership theories that were introduced in literature review: Great Man theory, traits theory, and behavioral approach, contingency, transformational and transactional theories.

As per requirements it was done the introduction of the background of two personalities including their childhood, university years and career. It was done overview of leadership qualities of them where B. Obama is represented as a political leader with good political skills, great ability to public communication, organizational capacity and emotional intelligence and G.W. Bush as a leader with prominent political vision and skills. Except that it was expressed my own opinion about two leaders where is the most admirable politician is George W. Bush who is top-down, no-nonsense, decisive, macho leader who sets his eye on the far horizon and doesn't "go wobbly" getting there.

In a conclusion it is essential to say that The President of the United States of America is granted significant powers by the Constitution and exercises others by tradition and precedent. He has to inspire the confidence of the people. Every President has to become a leader, and to be a leader he must attract people who are willing to follow him.


"Leadership is an influence relationship among leaders and their collaborators who intend real changes that reflect their mutual purposes"( Komives, Woodard, 2003).

Leader are somebody whom people follow and guide people. Leaders are the head of the nation, political party, legislative body or military unit. A "type" of Leader is determined and identified by the core trait that is emphasized and by the combination of other core traits that are displayed and used to gain the trust of the people and Lead them to undertake the major task facing the organization(

Some characteristics of leaders:

Leaders are essential for setting the company vision, assessing where the company stands and making difficult choices. Leaders must be able to pull a team together, solve problems and develop strategies.

Leaders Challenge people.

Leaders build their people's Confidence.

Leaders Coach the people they lead.

Leaders challenge people by bringing them out of their "comfort zones", enabling people to reach successes that they never thought they could achieve.

Leaders boost confidence and put their faith in their people to deliver the goal.

Leaders reward intelligent failures, or the sincere effort to achieve, even if the effort may fail.

Leaders communicate a clear and compelling vision to challenge people to think and act differently as they pursue a new agenda.


Barack Obama

Obama is actually of mixed heritage. He was born in 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii. His father Barack Obama Senior was from Kenya and Obama's mother, Ann Durham, was originally from Kansas. The marriage between Obama's parents was a short-lived one, however. In the early 1960s, interracial relationships were still quite rare in many parts of America, and even technically illegal in some states. When Obama was two years old they divorced, and his father left Hawaii to enter Harvard University to earn a Ph.D. in economics. The two Baracks met again only once, when Obama was ten, though they did write occasionally. Barack Sr. eventually returned to Kenya and died in a car accident there in the early 1980s. Obama's mother remarried a man from Indonesia who worked in the oil industry, and when Obama was six they moved there. The family lived near the capital of Jakarta, where his half-sister Maya was born. At the age of ten, Obama returned to Hawaii and lived with his maternal grandparents.

Obama entered in kindergarten level in Noelani Elementary school located at Honolulu, Hawaii and then from first to fourth grade he done education in Jakarta, Indonesia. Fifth through twelfth grade he done education again in Honolulu, Hawaii. Obama got High school diploma from Punahou and went on to Occidental College in Los Angeles, where he decided to get serious about his studies. Midway through, he transferred to the prestigious Columbia University in New York City. After he earned his undergraduate degree in political science, he became a community organizer in Harlem-but quickly realized he could not afford to live in the city with a job that paid so little. Instead, he moved to Chicago to work for a church-based social-services organization there. Obama applied to and was accepted at Harvard Law School. In 1990, he was elected president of the Harvard Law Review journal ( Also during his law school years, Obama spent eight days in Los Angeles taking a national training course on Alinsky methods of organizing(Lizza, Ryan, 2007). Barack Hussein Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States on November 2008(

George Walker Bush

He was born in New Haven, Connecticut on 1946. Bush was the first child of George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush. He was raised in Midland and Houston, Texas, with his four siblings. Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a U.S. Senator from Connecticut. Bush's father, George H. W. Bush, served as U.S. Vice President from 1981 to 1989 and U.S. President from 1989 to 1993 ( Clarita, CalBoyer, 1995). As a child, Bush attended public schools in Midland, Texas until the family moved to Houston after he completed seventh grade. He then went to The Kinkaid School, a prep school in Houston, for two years (http://www.lib.utexas.edul). Bush finished his high school years at Phillips Academy. Bush attended Yale University from 1964 to 1968, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. During this time, he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon, being elected the fraternity's president during his senior year. He characterized himself as an average student. Beginning in the fall of 1973, Bush attended the Harvard Business School, where he earned an MBA. He was the only U.S. President to have earned an MBA( In May 1968, Bush was commissioned into the Texas Air National Guard. After two years of active-duty service while training, he was assigned to Houston, flying Convair F-102s out of Ellington Air Force Base. In October 1973, Bush was discharged from the Texas Air National Guard and transferred to inactive duty in the Air Force Reserve. He was honorably discharged from the Air Force Reserve on November 21, 1974, at the end of his six-year service obligation ( He married on November 1977. In 1982 he would have a twin daughter. George W. Bush served as the 43rd president of the United States from 2001-2009.


3.1 Theories on Leadership

Leadership has different meaning to different authors. Harry Truman, the American President, said that leadership is the ability to get men (women) to do what they don't like to do and like it (Greenstein, 1989).

Leadership is defined as influence, that is the art or process of influencing people so that they will strive willingly and enthusiastically towards the achievement of group goals(Koontz, Weihrich, 2006).

So a good leader is a maker of men, developer of subordinates and creator of worthy lieutenants.

The activities of successful & effective leaders:

H:\College file\college file\Semester 5\MLS\Assignment\Untitled.png

John Adair has a long pedigree in the world of leadership. The Adair model is that the action-centered leader gets the job done through the work team and relationships with fellow managers and staff. According to Adair's explanation an action-centered leader must:

• direct the job to be done (task structuring)

• support and review the individual people doing it

• co-ordinate and foster the work team as a whole




The challenge for the leader is to manage all sectors of the diagram:


define the task

make the plan

allocate work and resources

control quality and rate of work

check performance against plan

adjust the plan


maintain discipline

build team spirit

encourage, motivate, give a sense of purpose

appoint sub-leaders

ensure communication within group

develop the group


attend to personal problems

praise individuals

give status

recognise and use individual abilities

develop the individual

A review of the leadership literature reveals an evolving series of 'schools of thought' from "Great Man" and "Trait" theories to "Transformational" leadership (see table). Whilst early theories tend to focus upon the characteristics and behaviors of successful leaders, later theories begin to consider the role of followers and the contextual nature of leadership (Gronn, 1995).

Great Man Theories

Based on the belief that leaders are exceptional people, born with innate qualities, destined to lead. The use of the term 'man' was intentional since until the latter part of the twentieth century leadership was thought of as a concept which is primarily male, military and Western. This led to the next school of Trait Theories

Trait Theories

The lists of traits or qualities associated with leadership exist in abundance and continue to be produced. They draw on virtually all the adjectives in the dictionary which describe some positive or virtuous human attribute, from ambition to zest for life

Behavioral Theories

These concentrate on what leaders actually do rather than on their qualities. Different patterns of behavior are observed and categorized as 'styles of leadership'. This area has probably attracted most attention from practicing managers

Contingency Theory

This is a refinement of the situational viewpoint and focuses on identifying the situational variables which best predict the most appropriate or effective leadership style to fit the particular circumstances

Transactional Theory

This approach emphasizes the importance of the relationship between leader and followers, focusing on the mutual benefits derived from a form of 'contract' through which the leader delivers such things as rewards or recognition in return for the commitment or loyalty of the followers

Transformational Theory

The central concept here is change and the role of leadership in envisioning and implementing the transformation of organisational performance

From 'Great Man' to 'Transformational' Leadership

Each of these theories takes a rather individualistic perspective of the leader, although a school of thought gaining increasing recognition is that of "dispersed" leadership. This approach, with its foundations in sociology, psychology and politics rather than management science, views leadership as a process that is diffuse throughout an organisation rather than lying solely with the formally designated 'leader'. The emphasis thus shifts from developing 'leaders' to developing 'leaderful' organisations with a collective responsibility for leadership.

Trait Theories

Trait theories of leadership sought personality, social, physical or intellectual traits that differentiate leaders from non leaders. Trait view has little analytical or predictive value. Technical, conceptual and human skills (Katz, 1974). People are born with inherited traits. Some traits are particularly suited to leadership. People who make good leaders have the right combination of traits.



•Adaptable to situations

•Alert to social environment

•Ambitious and achievement-orientated





•Dominant (desire to influence others)

•Energetic (high activity level)



•Tolerant of stress

•Willing to assume responsibility

•Clever (intelligent)

•Conceptually skilled


•Diplomatic and tactful

•Fluent in speaking

•Knowledgeable about group task

•Organized administrative ability)


•Socially skilled

Behavioral Theories

Behavioral theories of leadership do not seek inborn traits or capabilities. Rather, they look at what leaders actually do. If success can be defined in terms of describable actions, then it should be relatively easy for other people to act in the same way. This is easier to teach and learn then to adopt the more ephemeral 'traits' or 'capabilities'.

Trait theory: Leaders are born, not made.

Behavioral theory: Leadership traits can be taught.

Ohio State Studies

Initiating Structure

The extent to which a leader is likely to define and structure his or her role and those of sub-ordinates in the search for goal attainment.


The extent to which a leader is likely to have job relationships characterized by mutual trust, respect for subordinate's ideas, and regard for their feelings.

University of Michigan Studies

Employee-Oriented Leader

Emphasizing interpersonal relations; taking a personal interest in the needs of employees and accepting individual differences among members.

Production-Oriented Leader

One who emphasizes technical or task aspects of the job.H:\College file\college file\Semester 5\MLS\Assignment\behaviour.jpg

Contingency Theories

Fiedler's Contingency Model

The theory that effective groups depend on a proper match between a leader's style of interacting with subordinates and the degree to which the situation gives control and influence to the leader (Brooks, 2007).

Least Preferred Co-Worker (LPC) Questionnaire

An instrument that purports to measure whether a person is task- or relationship-oriented.

Leader-Member Relations

The degree of confidence, trust, and respect subordinates have in their leader.

Task Structure

The degree to which the job assignments are procedurized.

Position Power

Influence derived from one's formal structural position in the organization; includes power to hire, fire, discipline, promote, and give salary increases.

H:\College file\college file\Semester 5\MLS\Assignment\contingency.jpg

Transactional Theories

Transactional leadership models treat the process of leading as a cross between a social and business transaction. There are specific hierarchies and structures in which some people are leaders and others are followers. A leader and follower agree to a contract. The latter is responsible for following orders to do a job, and the former provides rewards for proper execution of responsibilities. The difficulty in transactional leadership is that the concept doesn't apply well to all circumstances or cultures. For example, job-performance-and-reward model doesn't pertain to volunteer efforts, where the reward is usually something other than what the leader can directly provide (

Transactional leadership seeks to motivate followers by appealing to their own self-interest. Transactional leaders use conventional reward and punishment to gain compliance from their followers.

Transformational theories

James MacGregor Burns first introduced the concept of transformational leadership in his book Leadership (1978), but this term is now used in organizational psychology as well. He described it not as a set of specific behaviours, but rather an ongoing process by which "leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of morality and motivation". Transformational leaders offer a purpose that transcends short-term goals and focuses on higher order intrinsic needs. Transformational leaders raise the bar by appealing to higher ideals and values of followers. In doing so, they may model the values themselves and use charismatic methods to attract people to the values and to the leader.

There are four components of transformational leadership, which are:



President Barack Obama has gotten the attention of American's and foreigners alike due to his charismatic nature. A charismatic approach is transformational if it invokes a permanent change in the people who embrace the leader's vision. Thus far, President Obama has woed many to his vision which has the potential to make a huge difference in both domestic and foreign affairs.

Barack Obama is a fascinating political leader. Obama have some following leadership qualities.

Public Communication

Organizational Capacity

Emotional Intelligence

Political Skill

Cognitive Style

President Obama's frankness is also another key that sets him apart from countless other politicians. By communicating his goal honestly and clearly, listeners are able to sense his sincerity and will tend to trust him more. This is opposed to many others who choose not to come clean regarding certain ulterior motives, apparent as they may be, and this only mean that listeners are less willing to trust them wholeheartedly.

Barak Obama also scores well in terms of being able to delegate tasks to more capable hands, and concerns himself more with the direction setting and visioning of the nation. In higher management, delegation is a crucial skill to master in order to be effective ( 

Apart this Barack Obama has some special qualities in his life as well that shows his leader's nature. He is not afraid to be surrounded by other brilliant people from whom he gets advice.  He learns new things from them.  He goes to meetings with an open heart.  He is not stuck up with ego.  He is willing to learn new things.  He is willing to listen. He has gone through the steps of learning, growing, teaching, writing, earning and gaining trust and support etc.  He is a seeker of challenges (


George Walker Bush has embraced a command-and-control style that sharply challenges much of today's conventional wisdom about leadership and indeed is a marked departure from other recent presidents. Bush is a top-down, no-nonsense, decisive, macho leader who sets his eye on the far horizon and doesn't "go wobbly" getting there. He is crisp and can be confrontational, expecting others to follow or get out of the way. He is a big-picture fellow who learned in business school and in Austin to focus on only two or three goals at a time and pursue them fiercely, seeing other issues as distractions. Once he sets a course, he may try his hand at public persuasion. But if people don't swing behind him, he plunges ahead anyway, trusting that they will catch up later.

Bush has indeed moved quickly to set his course and stick to it. He has let things languish and pushed problems to the future. He has also not hesitated to switch positions when necessary, such as when he first opposed, and then backed, the creation of a Homeland Security Department. He is a person who, once he picks a goal, never looks back. Even strong supporters sometimes worry that his curiosity and patience seem limited, while detractors see him as intellectually lazy and dependent on ideology and sloganeering instead of realism and clear thinking. Because he has a relatively small set of advisers, dissenting voices are effectively muffled (

Far more important to him than the art of persuasion, or so it appears, is discipline of message. Bush had waged a highly disciplined campaign that focused on a few core issues. Yet in his three debates with Al Gore, Bush had come across to many as unprepared for the job. Occasionally, Bush made his trademark smirk, a gesture that many took as a sign of arrogance. Bush described himself as a "compassionate conservative ( There are some following leadership qualities.

Public Communication

Policy Vision

Political Skills

Organizational Capacity

Compare with Leadership Qualities

Transformational theory

Peter Northouse (2004) wrote that transformational leadership is "the process whereby an individual engages with others and creates a connection that raises the level of motivation and morality in both the leader and the follower."

Obama has benefited from skillful oratory, personal charm and charisma. He has mixed old and new media strategies to sustain and build popular support. Obama and his communications team have been clever at devising novel ways to present Obama in a sympathetic light. In confronting the contemporary era of fragmented media of communication, the president has shown a savvy ability to 'find the audience,' as opposed to expecting the audience to come to him (Woolley, Peters, 2009).

George W. Bush likes to consider himself a transformational leader. His supporters like to compare him to Reagan and Truman with the implicit premise that history will also treat him kindly after a rough spell in the polls but in fact he is not like that. He highly religious and moralistic but at the same time he is poor manager, failing to organize diverse information flows in his administration, and he is resistant to new ideas. George W. Bush is failed as a transformational leader since he was running against the odds (Bass, Riggio, 2006).

Contingency theory

The basic promise of contingency theory is that "effective leadership is contingent upon matching leader's style to the right setting". Barak Obama showed a distinct ability to alter his leadership style to fit a situation on at least three occasions.

First, while presiding over a town hall meeting in Fort Meyer, Florida, President Obama demonstrated the tender side of leadership by delivering a genuine kiss of compassion to a woman struggling to overcome economic hard times and the embarrassing stigma of being homeless.

Secondly, on his first trip to the G20 summit in Europe. President Obama discerned that the Prime Minister of France and the Premier of China were at an impasse over a certain deal at which time he showed a sense of cross cultural leadership by gently calling the two aside to a corner and brokering a deal between them.

Third, as aforementioned, President Obama flexed his presidential biceps to force Chrysler into bankruptcy, both Chrysler and GM out of NASCAR, and both Chrysler and GM accept new MPG fuel standards (Coggins, 2009).

In comparison with B. Obama G.W. Bush leads "by definition". His leadership posture has arguably set a new standard in immunizing the presidency from the risks of today's hyper-politicized, media-exposed environment.  His success is traced to several factors: his personal political experiences, the imperative of defining political issues and opponents during the revitalization of the conservative movement, and the GOP's control of American national government. G.W. Bush is one of a long line of "orthodox innovators" in American presidential history.  Like other presidents who led by tying themselves to their political base while seeking to go beyond orthodoxy--including James Polk, Theodore Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson--President Bush faces the challenge of redeeming "old promises while responding to the demand for something new"( Skowronek, 2005).

Behavioral leadership

From behavioral perspective of leadership Obama successes as a leader. He is:

Attention Grabber.

Knows how to make the best use of any opportunity give.


He does not lose hope after he lost the election US congress and then won in the senate elections by a large margin.

He is a self aware and most importantly has the ability to tie his own experience into a political speech in which he portrays himself as an ordinary citizen, speaking for the general public. As a manager it might not effect whether you portray yourself as a common man or not but as a leader it is very important to relate the common man (

From behavioural perspective of leadership B. Obama shows himself as a democratic leader. Obama touted his abilities to solve problems in a bipartisan way, to take on special interest groups, and to restore America's standing globally, while giving average citizens a voice. "This dates back to my history as a community organizer and my belief that if ordinary people participate we get better outcomes," he said. "Temperamentally, I'm someone who tries to seek common ground," he said. "I tend not to demonize people who don't agree with me, but try to find areas of overlap. I'm not an ideological person; I try to make decisions based on facts, what works and what doesn't." (

G.W. Bush in contrast to Obama is autocratic leader. Bush is resolute in his decisions and ultimately does not look for, or care to truly consider opinions that run counter to his desires. He wants to propagate freedom without seeming to understand the fundamentals of liberty. It isn't all about bombs and tanks and diplomacy from the working end of a gun. It is about unrestricted exchange. It is about occupying real estate where reasonable people publicly tussle over tough ideas. It is opinion given unadorned rather than served with ginned up intelligence or hidden behind executive privilege and presidential clemency or warrant-less wiretaps. Freedom -- as trite as it sounds -- requires vigilance and oversight.

3.4. Opinion about George Walker Bush Leadership Style

George Bush has embraced a command-and-control style that sharply challenges much of today's conventional wisdom about leadership.

There are some qualities that I consider as admirable for me. Bush is a top-down, no-nonsense, decisive, macho leader who sets his eye on the far horizon and doesn't "go wobbly" getting there. He is crisp and can be confrontational, expecting others to follow or get out of the way. He asks questions and actively listens before he decides, but he doesn't agonize, and once the decision is made, he doesn't brook internal dissent. He happily delegates details, but he monitors his team closely. If they swerve off course, he snaps them back into line.

Once he sets a course, he may try his hand at public persuasion. But if people don't swing behind him, he plunges ahead anyway, trusting that they will catch up later. Far more important to him than the art of persuasion, or so it appears, is discipline of message. He has learned through experience that if he and his team repeat a clear, simple message long enough, the public is much more likely to give him permission to act, even if they aren't fully persuaded.

One more admirable quality is that as he imposes a demanding physical regime upon himself, he also insists that his team stick to a script and drill it home repeatedly. He is slow to trust and has a long memory for those who cross him or his family, but he is devoted to those who are faithful. Loyalty to the man, loyalty to the mission, loyalty to the message, you don't stay on his team long unless you get with the program.

Bush also has nerve. If he thinks the mission important enough, he will take a risk even put his presidency on the line. "So what if no president since Franklin Roosevelt has picked up congressional seats in his first mid-term election? So what if I risk embarrassment by campaigning hard for Republicans? Let's rev up Air Force One and barnstorm the country." That's the way Bush acts, and more often than not as in the 2002 election, he wins his bets (Gergen, 2003).

George W. Bush has displayed a natural ability to lead. Through his skillful use of timeless management principles and his powerful people skills, Bush has proven to be a genius at leadership. The Leadership Genius of George W. Bush reveals the unwavering leadership principles of the first President with an MBA and illustrates how he uses them to operate within the arenas of politics, business, and life (Bennis, Thomas, 2002).


The President of the United States of America is granted significant powers by the Constitution and exercises others by tradition and precedent. However, success exercising these powers has varied widely from one President to the next. Harnessing the powers of the presidency and managing the sprawling executive branch take a great deal of skill and determination. Indeed Presidents face a host of challenges as they attempt to lead the nation and its people. They must work with others in the separated system of American government. They must constantly deal with a wide range of complex domestic and foreign policy problems which tend to arise at the worst possible times. They must try to organize and lead an executive branch which often does not want to follow. And they must try to lead a nation with an aversion to strong leadership. That some Presidents are strong and effective leaders in spite of these obstacles is a testament to their talents, skills and determination.

Every President has to inspire the confidence of the people. Every President has to become a leader, and to be a leader he must attract people who are willing to follow him. Every President has to develop a moral underpinning to his power, or he soon discovers that he has no power at all (Jones, 1994).

In conclusion it would be relevant to refer to the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower (former US President): "Leadership: the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it" (

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