I have to admit, last night was pretty awesome. Work had ended, and I was still sitting at my desk, eagerly waiting for 5:30 to come around. Why? I had a meeting with President Obama. Sure, so did anyone who wanted it, but it was the first POTUS Google+ live streaming event. As things started, the environment was pretty amazing. Regardless of your political affiliation, the candid nature of which the President had live conversations with normal Americans shows a true understanding of the democratic process. Mr. President took a risk. Going live to stream to the world a conversation post-State of the Union, was to me a sign of a leader understanding his position and role to the country. Having open discussion about key concerns and situations that face many Americans today created an opportunity have a glimpse at the true human side of President. It made him real. As leader, putting yourself in a position of normalcy yet being able to act on anything discussed is pretty amazing.
Questions ranged from unemployment, student loans, marijuana, the Occupy movement, to SOPA/PIPA. The President exuded several key attributes of leadership in this brief 50 minute discussion.
1. Well-rounded knowledge of many topics– even though the format allowed for Mr. President to be breifed on the questions before answering them, there was a level of focus, intent and honesty in hearing the concerns and questions from theh public. The frequent views from behind Obama as he leaned into the camera to see the people asking the questions was impressive. It showed he was intently listening and not just responded through a scripted teleprompter. His preparedness was in who he was and showed how knowledgable he is about the topics that are important to most Americans.
2. Candid and conversational– he made jokes, comments, and interacted with everyone in a personal manner that showed how much he valued this forum, probably just as much the participants.
3. Fast on his feet– the rapid ad-libbed points and questions came from the live-audience Google+ invitees were handled with the politcal savvy one would expect from the President. There was however the risk of getting posed a question that would evoke a firestorm in the media. There were two responses that have received critical comments from. Overall, I feel that this minimally controlled forum showed an honest and open President who was willing and able to answer any question asked.
4. Direct and personal– Obama responded to all the questions and comments with a direct personal approach that showed his true level of care and concern for those lucky enough to be a part of this event. He showed how much he understood where Americans are today and even gave information and direction to how we as a country can address these concerns.
5. Leaders of all levels are people too– his smile, charisma and honest approach to this forum showed just how human the President is. He related with the individual stories, the families, the hardships, and the true extent to which people were really eager to hear his response.
How would you round off the top 10 leadership examples from the Google+ hangout with President Obama on Monday night? Where do you see this first Google+ Presidential hangout leading the democratic process next?