The Leadership Styles of John McCain and Barack Obama

The recent financial crisis has given us a unique opportunity to understand the leadership styles of the U.S. Presidential candidates by studying the way they communicated their views of the U.S. financial crisis last week.

McCain heatedly called upon the Federal Reserve to stop participating in bail outs of big financial firms and pledged tough penalties for “predatory lenders who knew you can’t afford an adjustable rate mortgage, but misled you into signing one.” Further, he proposed a new federal agency “that will get the Treasury and other financial regulatory authorities in a proactive position…instead of reacting in crisis mode to one situation after another.”

Obama announced that he had decided not to issue a financial rescue plan because he wanted to give the Bush administration a chance to work out a bipartisan solution without political interferences.

One quick and decisive, the other cautious and pensive. One had enough information upon which to make a decision, the other waited for more details.

The manner in which both candidates communicated their views of the explosive financial news is indicative not only of their leadership styles, but of their natural instincts. By understanding their natural instincts, we’ll have a predictable indication as to how these men would communicate and lead as the U.S. President.

If they were to each take the Kolbe A Index™, we would know with certainty how they would act. Since it’s unlikely that they will take the index, I’ll give you my best guess of their natural instincts.

McCain’s immediate response to the crisis as it hit the news last week indicates that he initiates in Quick Start. He will trust is gut and be quick to react. If free to act at will, he will be decisive and not second guess himself. He will be innovate and welcome change.

Obama’s measured response and desire to check in with others indicates that he is a consensus builder and mediator. His Kolbe A Index™ likely will show his inclination to seek the advice of others before making decisions. Further, he will look to find common ground for those with different opinions.

The way in which the candidates reacted to the Russian invasion of neighboring Georgia last month confirms my educated guess of their natural instincts. McCain denounced Russia and demanded an immediate withdrawal declaring “We are all Georgians.” Obama initially urged both sides to show restraint and later issued his condemnation of Russia’s actions.

When Hurricane Gustav hit the Gulf Coast earlier in the month, McCain detoured to Mississippi to tour the state’s Emergency Management Agency. Meanwhile Obama opted to stay away saying that a sudden visit might “draw resources away from folks on the ground.”

Another example of McCain’s leadership style occurred several weeks ago when he said he would “suspend” his presidential campaign to come to Washington to help negotiate a financial bailout bill and argued that the first presidential debate should be scrapped. On the day of the debate he reversed his decision to boycott the debate.

In the coming weeks, there may be more opportunities to observe the way that these two men react to other emergencies. If so, I expect that their future actions will confirm their natural instincts.

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