Panetta on Obama’s Leadership Style

Leon Panetta on the Charlie Rose show, 16-09-2013

Leon Panetta on the Charlie Rose show, 16-09-2013

While digging into the realm of the theoretical concepts of Foreign Policy Decision Making, I am more quickly triggered by statements on political leadership than I was before. An interview with Leon Panetta is an excellent example of someone previously close to a political leader, describing the decision making considerations of this leader.

Leon Panetta on United States’ President Obama’s foreign policy leadership style, in his own words

I’ve worked with this President, both as CIA director and Secretary of Defence. I have found him to be somebody who carefully evaluates each issue. Tries to look at all the ramifications. Tries to determine what the best course is. But I also found him decisive in the end. He is always willing to come down and make a decision, and nothing exemplifies that better than the decision to conduct the operation against Bin Laden.

Theories and concepts build on the analysis of, often, historical events, where patterns are recognised and behaviour might be explained.

One way of connecting the theoretical dots to actual events, is through the below table. It categorises leadership styles according different modes of responsiveness to constraints, of openness to outside information, and motivation. The short quote above lacks sufficient information to unambiguously put the Prseident into one category, but, based on it, we can argue that Obama, on foreign policy issues, is open to information presented to him from others.

Currently, it is out of scope to further analyse Obama’s leadership style, though I think that frameworks like Margaret G. Hermann’s are useful ways to constructively think about decision making, based on personality.

Margaret Hermann Leadership Styles

Margaret Hermann’s Analysis of Leadership Styles


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