Former president Barack Obama has been making the rounds doing press for his new book, “The Promised Land,” and after interviews with everyone from 60 Minutes to Oprah Winfrey, the 44th president took to Instagram Live with two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry to chat about their shared experiences as fathers and leaders.
As Curry enters a later stage of his NBA career, he asked the former president about how to lead when expectations are high and all eyes on are on you.
Here was Obama’s response:
One mistake I think a lot of people make is that you’re just either born a leader or you’re not. When, in fact, leadership is, like anything else, it’s a skill. And there are a bunch of different ways to do it. I‘ve known people who were great leaders but really soft spoken and weren’t always trying to seek attention. The thing I try to communicate in the book and I learned this, I wasn’t always perfect at it…number one was realizing that the most important thing a leader does is they set a tone in terms of culture as a team. Whether the team is a a basketball team or a business or an administration. What are the values in which you are organizing yourselves?….Being clear about what your values are as an organization, that’s part of leadership.
Obama also added how important it is as a leader to empower those around you and give them to space to be their best:
The second thing, and this, I know you can relate to, because it’s a direct analogy to basketball or any team sport…is figuring out, how do you help the people around you succeed?…If you can figure out how to empower the other folks on your team so they’re doing great, that’s good for you. And by the way, they’ll feel good about your leadership because they’re seeing that you’re invested in their success. And the mistake I think some folks make is to think being a leader is “How do I dominate and stay on top of other folks?” If you have that kind of approach, your organization or whatever it is, is not going to be as good as it should be and by the way, you’re not going to have the same tight bonds so that when, inevitably, something goes wrong, you got other people to pick each other up.
The two also discuss different moments from across Obama’s political career, including his 2004 Democratic National Convention speech that served as a springboard into national politics and the raid he directed to take down Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in 2011.