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President Obama's Leadership Style: Calm Assertiveness

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Who among us would like to be president of the United States in these turbulent times? Raise your hands. I thought so. Well, it is my belief that we have the right man at the right time in the right place (the oval office). Consider all that President Obama has had to face since taking office: an economy on the brink of a great depression; two wars; a Gulf oil spill; the Tucson AZ massacre; storms, blizzards, flooding, and wildfires throughout the U.S.; a devastating earthquake in Haiti; and now crises and revolutions in the Mid-East causing oil prices to rise; and an earthquake, tsnumai and threats of a nuclear power meltdown in Japan.

To say our president has his hands full is an understatement. But his leadership style is ideally suited for times such as these. He displays a presence that I would define as "calm assertiveness." This is a phrase coined by Cesar Milan, TV's "Dog Whisperer". Milan says that he, Cesar, "rehabilitates dogs and trains people." He tells owners that their energy affects their pets and creates the hyper or anxious behavior they bring him in to correct. I am always amazed by the end of his shows at the transformation the dogs and their masters go through. Cesar suggests to the owner they should make their body calm and their mind assertive. The calmness relaxes the dog and the assertiveness lets the animal know the owner is in charge or is the leader of the pack.

Both elements are essential in leadership. 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. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC who interviewed him as a candidate said "He is a calm and confident presence up close and from the base." His relaxed demeanor has often been misunderstood as complacent or lacking in emotion. Some of his own supporters such as Bill Maher and Arianna Huffington have expressed a desire to see him display more fire on certain issues. But that is not his style. The truth is that he is passionate and caring as his speech at the Tucson, AZ memorial and his recent press conference where he stated he was "heartbroken" about the disaster in Japan showed. He just knows how to channel his emotions in a positive way. It could be said that he is unflappable.

Right now we need a cool, calm, collected leader that does not fly off the handle, make panicky and risky decisions off the cuff, or rush into volatile situations with no thought to the consequences. Just because his style is very different from his predecessor doesn't mean he is not an effective world leader. In fact, it's just the opposite. There is a difference between aggressiveness and assertiveness. One is based on fear (the macho cowboy diplomacy of pre-emptive strikes) and the other is based on confidence (Obama has offered an open hand to the nations of the world.) 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. He is a very adept tightrope walker keeping America's best interests and safety in mind. He has a good sense of balance and insight into the world's problems.

Just as FDR restored America's national psyche ("The only thing we have to fear is fear itself") during the Great Depression and World War II, President Obama, with his serene confidence, in two short years has calmed the financial markets, rescued the car manufacturers, improved the economy, lowered the unemployment rate (a work in progress), passed national health care reform, and overall given Americans hope for the future. All occurring while the world is in a state of upheaval. Cesar would be proud.

Is there a better person suited for this job right now? I think not.