This paper will take a brief look at what organizational behavior is and why it is necessary. Following this, focus will be placed on former president Barack Obama’s organizational behavior, paying special attention to the actions and characteristics that allowed him to occupy the seat of head of state for two term. It will touch on Obama’s personality and interactions with the community and members of the senate, as well as his international relations and decision making behaviors.
Organizational Behavior is the study of how people behave when they are placed in groups. This study often looks at how people behave in the working environment and investigates whether there is a way to make people more productive at work and what factors influence this productivity. In this study, workers are not seen as disposable resources but rather as resources with a psychology which have the ability to influence the company. Studies have shown that workers are less concerned with their external environments than they are with their relationships within the workplace. The information retrieved from these studies can help those in authority understand the organizations business culture and helps them understand how this culture influences the productivity of its workforce. In understanding the business culture, a better analysis can be made on whether a job candidate’s personality would suit the business. The study can evaluate the type of leadership approach that an individual may have and also whether that approach best suits the business(Kopp, 2019).There are few leaderships positions as great as being the president of the country and in this paper particular attention will be given to former president Barack Obama’s organizational behavior as a leader of the free world.
According to Ben W. Heineman Jr., a presidential campaign is not just a campaign to be chosen as the president of a country, but a marketing campaign that can be seen through a business lens, however, though Obama’s opponents at the time had superior business knowledge to him, he still managed to out-perform them, this is because, according to Heineman, ‘they avoided classic business mistakes that plagued their opponents.’ Obama, expanded his markets by not only focusing on the larger states but on the smaller ones, knowing that his opponents were likely to neglect the ‘swing states’ during the elections, Obama’s campaign focused on these areas and regarded them as crucial to secure a win. He focused on his ‘customers’. The campaign conducted their own behavioral science studies in order to understand, and win the votes of certain minority groups that were normally ignored, they even helped these people register to vote. In the end, he managed to sell his ‘product’ evident from his win (Heineman, 2012)
Obama and the People
Psychologically, Obama was able to motivate himself before and during his campaign. One of the major challenges he faced was the social challenge of having to run as the first African American president, but he was able to speak to the nature in people as a leader. Obama was able to harness the support of many Americans, his approach in leading the country was one that people preferred enough to elect him to lead the country for two terms. Many attribute Obama’s diverse heritage and background to his ability to relate and connect to people. Being born of a black Kenyan father and a White American mother, and having lived in Hawaii and Indonesia, he was no stranger to feeling different and having to adjust. After law school, Obama was hired as a community organizer in Chicago. He worked in the underprivileged communities and managed to fulfill many of the needs that concerned the inhabitants, and it was through this ability to hear the people that his popularity grew. Another stance garnered support for Obama was his clear opposition to the war in Iraq, his consideration for military troops gave people the impression that he had their interests at heart. Obama was considered to be an icon of transformation during his presidential campaign and while he ran for office, because he was able to bring a new face to the presidency, and because he was able to influence the wills of the public. (Hassan, 2016).
National and International Behaviors
As president, Obama improved a number of socio- economic matters that are directly felt by the people on a national level. During his office there was a 10% decrease in unemployment, and people received better unemployment benefits. Interest rates on homes decreased and did not fluctuate. Under his office the quality of healthcare improved and became more affordable. Same-sex marriage was legalized, legislation regulating hate crimes was expanded and the American troops in Iraq were instructed to retreat.
Internationally, Obama was able to change the impressions that the world had about America due to it’s previous leadership. He made an effort to visit different countries and show that he had an interest in them. He allocated more funds to the research of renewable energy and set restrictions that were intended to reduce the emission of harmful gases into the environment. With regards to state security he formed alliances with foreign countries that would assist in the fight against terrorism. Also, under his office American forces managed to eliminate both Osama Bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi both who were considered to be threats by the American people (2016).
Obama as a Leader
Apart from being able to do some introspection and keep himself motivated and apart from having a charismatic personality that seemed to motivate others, he also possessed a number of leadership skills that allowed him to hold a two-term presidency.
He was a realist who was able to focus on the matter at hand as it was, rather than placing focus on what the imagined ideal should be.
His goals were often aimed at resolving conflicts in a peaceful manner rather than perpetuating the conflict
Instead of relying solely on his team of advisers to collect information for him, he depended on his own research as well.
He used his personality, wisdom, and knowledge to persuade people to support his policies.
He was a good listener and showed real interest in the people and their family lives, values, and morals (2016).
Criticisms and Recommendations
Though Obama generally received support from the public, there were some who considered his style of leadership to be autocratic. This was because they believed that he neglected to involve those in power from both political sides. Due to Obama’s transformational goals, many of his decisions were rooted in his inner beliefs and values, which meant that a lot of his decisions were made based on these values and were not negotiable for him. Therefore, there were times when he received resistance against his decisions. He was characterized as being self- reliant when it came to decision making and more focused on advocating for his policies than relying on his assistants. However unlike the typical understanding of an autocratic leader, Obama did not use intimidation or threats in order to pass his policies.
On the other hand, others viewed his approach to be democratic in that he approached his ideas in a persuasive manner and focused on getting public support for them(2016). In his paper, Hassan gives recommendations on what a person in power should consider when leading. He recommends that a leader should:
- Involve and rely on other powers when making decisions, in order to receive support that will effect change.
- Resist making rushed decisions, this way more time will be allowed to gather support.
- Refrain from isolating the opposition in decision making while being respectful of their opposing beliefs.
- Strive to make decisions that consider all sides.
For Barack Obama he has admitted that decision making is not an easy task. In an interview he stated that he had to make peace with the fact that no decision that he made would be entirely perfect. For him, it was important to rely on a knowledgeable team to give him all the perspectives of a matter before making a decision. He also highlighted the importance of asking questions, however ignorant that they may seem, in order to be certain that one understands all the facts related to a matter (Stillman, 2019).
Despite the criticism on his organizational behavior, Obama has received praise from those who worked under him, like Beck Dorey- Stein who worked as a transcriber for the former president and who described her experience working for him as an even better experience than she imagined, describing him as smart, funny and electric (Yee, 2018). Ben Rhodes who worked as a foreign policy adviser and speech writer for the former president described him in a memoir as ‘intelligent, amiable, compelling and principled.’ (Klein, 2018).
Considering organizational behavior, Obama used his own personality, values and education to his advantage in influencing the minds of the public as well as the people on his team. He resolved conflict as peacefully as he could. He may have been criticized for his fast decisions and for basing his decisions on his personal attitudes, however his charisma, and the way he treated his staff seems to be what resonated with people even after his presidency.
- Hassan Elkatawneh, 2016. Bridging Theory and Practice Leadership. Waldon University. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/314468587_Bridging_Theory_and_Practice_LeadershipBarack_Obama
- Heineman Ben W. 2012. Barack Obama, Organization Man. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/11/barack-obama-organization- man/264959/.
- Klein Joe, 2018. Deep Inside the Obama White House. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/05/books/review/ben-rhodes-world-as-it- is.html.
- Kopp Carol, 2019. Organizational Behavior. Investopedia. Retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/o/organizational-behavior.asp.
- Stillman Jessica, 2019. Got A Hard Decision to Make? Borrow Obama’s Simple 3-Part Strategy for the Toughest Calls. Inc. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/president-obama-just-shared-his-simple-3-part- framework-for-making-even-toughest-decisions.html.
- Yee Hannah-Rose, 2018. What It’s Really like to work for Barack Obama. Whimn. Retrieved from https://www.whimn.com.au/live/work/what-its-really-like-to-work-for- barack-obama/news-story/51f0462b4754eda46ae41933a19bd0b1.