I followed with great passion, interest and intellectual curiosity the 2008 presidential race in the USA. Truth to be told, I discovered Obama during only the spring. But speech after speech, I found that his programme for a new America was truly convincing and his style deeply fascinating. It happened to me to read, months later, a book with selected sermons and speeches that dr. Martin Luther King gave throughout his life journey. Across dr. King, Obama, and other inspiring leaders, I found a common tread that I deem to be a sort of blueprint for a powerful leadership:
1) A clear, simple assessment of reality;
a simple assessment of today means understanding and streamlining the key issues of today under basic, unifying concepts. For MLK was the brutal reality of segregation, for Obama was the clear understanding of the failed republican policy that has made the American middle class poorer, not richer.
2) A compelling vision of the future;
Where do wanna go? As famously said by Amory Lovins, change is about making “hope possible, not despair convincing”. A vision of a desired future on which we can all agree on is fundamental to bring people together, to bridge social differences, to inspire people. Think about the amazing “I have a dream” speech and its everlasting beauty.
3) How to bridge that ‘gap’;
considering the means as separate from the ends is not only an old-fashioned mindset – it is simply wrong. In Italian we have a say: “Who sows thorns shall never walk barefoot”. That is, it is not convincing talking about peace while waging wars. What we aim to do shall never be considered as separate from the way we do it. Dr. King considered the non-violence of his movement for justice as essential as the goals of the movement.
4) A sense of urgency;
fundamental is the idea that we have to deal with our problems at hand NOW. It is not too soon to act, nor it’s too late. It is the right time. The idea that we find ourselves in a defining moment of history, where our decisions are going to affect future generations as well as the quality of life of our children, is crucial.