According to the U.S. White House, Michelle Obama is described as lawyer, writer and mother. She has also been active in different leadership roles throughout her life, from being associate dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago, where she introduced a community service program, to launching the Let's Move campaign against childhood obesity as first lady.
In her speech at the 2016 Democratic Convention, which climaxed with a standing ovation, the first lady talked about wanting a leader who gives people hope. Despite this particular concept not being applicable to every situation communication specialists are confronted with, there are things to learn from the poised woman in regards to effective leadership.
Having achieved pop culture status Mrs Obama's behaviours and approaches can be analysed to enable a better understanding of the qualities leaders should aspire to themselves:
1. Lead by example to reach goals
Don't simply hold grand speeches, act upon them. Focusing on results, according to data by McKinsey, is an important leadership quality that can motivate employees to work with high work ethic. Just as Michelle Obama lives the healthy lifestyle she promotes, communication specialists and leaders need to prioritise leading by example.
2. Be personable and allow people to identify with you
A leader who is relatable and amicable for employees will be more effective at fostering productive relationships, trust and feedback, a report by Forbes says. People can identify with the challenges Mrs Obama, coming from a south Chicago family, overcame to reach her goals by working hard to become a lawyer. By inspiring young people to pursue the completion of their education post high school and aim higher, the first lady adds a personable touch.
3. Keep your integrity, remain authentic and be supportive
Research by McKinsey suggests that effective leadership is found in being supportive, a trait Michelle Obama has continuously portrayed. Further added to this by Harvard Business Review is the idea that empowering employees to recognise the involvement of both employees and employers alike, and encouraging self-organising will achieve higher satisfaction and productivity.
4. Be confident in promoting growth
Praising growth, hard work and confidence when talking about the leader she envisions, the first lady incorporates what Harvard Business Review data highlights: that encouraging personal and professional growth can not only boost morale, but improve overall team performance.
Having the responsibility to lead can be a daunting endeavour, yet adapting four simple qualities Michelle Obama has portrayed aptly can make a big difference in the realm of effective leadership.