In Conversation with Barack Obama


Today I had the privilege of listening to President Barack Obama in Singapore.

He eloquently shared his wisdom on topics like global economy, political polarization, climate change, rise of social media etc. yet what got me spellbound were his incredible insights on leadership.

Obama said when you are in a leadership position, the first thing to do is to assemble your best possible talent – people with integrity, who will subscribe to your vision – and then make the best possible decisions based on the circumstances and the best available information by setting up a process to look at every problem using logic and data.

He said he believes in a constant renewal of leadership. In his point of view, most of the problems around the world are happening because of “old men” not getting out of the way – these are people who have their old mindsets, and like to quash the perspectives from younger ones.

His advice to the leaders in the room was to embrace diversity and put people at positions where they can shine, to not put ‘yes men’ around you, to not be threatened by great talent in the team or the hierarchy, and to understand and accept that you can’t master all tasks and be subject matter expert in everything. He said this is missing today in many countries leadership too.

One of the wrap-up messages stuck a great chord with me. He said “we all have flaws, our blind spots. We make mistakes. Laugh about it and then get back up. People who take themselves too seriously are brittle and can’t bounce back”.

If only we could all embrace such an open-minded leadership culture, our countries and our companies would flourish and the world will be a much better place to live in.



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