For many, this begs the question “How does he do it?”
I won’t try to answer every aspect of this question. But I will offer one explanation. My answer comes with a little help from Nicole Bacharan, a political scientist in Paris who focuses on French-American relations. I heard her interviewed this morning on National Public Radio and she offered this observation of why many Europeans are taking a different view of President-elect Obama than of President Bush:
She said Obama “sees them”.
The other side of that statement is that President Bush did not see them. Or, put another way, he ignored them. Of course he knows the Europeans are there. But his actions and words (at least to them) seem to suggest they don’t count. He does things without considering them.
Ms. Bacharan went on to say Europeans (in her view) believe President-elect Obama will consider how America’s action affect them. He’s not seen as the “cowboy” who acts only in his self-interest.
This makes him much more likable. It also makes him a more effective world leader. And, I believe it is largely the source of his charisma and success.
Of course, he’s intelligent, educated and a world-class orator. He has a view of how things should be and he’s passionate about it. Those traits help in his success. But, without the ability to connect with people, to “see them” as Bacharan says, he’d be much less effective. I doubt he would be where he is today.
Not long ago I wrote about “invisible customers”. These are people who want to do business with a company but they get ignored. Employees ignore them because they are focused on other things, Or, they are not physically ignored but their opinions, values, preferences and needs are ignored. And this is even more common.
When companies ignore their customers, they lose them. When they do the opposite, the keep them and they attract more.
Not surprisingly, this works for politicians and world leaders too. Those who focus only on their needs and appear to give little consideration for how their actions affect others, are less likely to be successful.
In this time of transition, all organizations and their leaders need to be on top of their game. Whether you run a country or a country-club or a country store, you need to be at your best to survive and thrive over the next few years. One way to do this is to take a page from President elect Obama’s playbook and make sure you “see” everyone. Don’t let anyone be invisible to your organization. You’ll find your customers will be much more loyal.