Of all modern political figures, Barack Obama is the one that is most often cited as being a reluctant leader. Obama’s journey took him from community organiser to civil rights lawyer, from professor to state senator and ultimately, Obama was elected 44th president of the United States on the 4th November 2008. Unlike some reluctant leaders, Obama’s trajectory towards the presidency and his political ideals suggest he was far from reluctant to take on the role of leader. Yet he is criticised that one of his ‘biggest deficiencies came in his reluctance to lead his own nation’. We look at the emergence of reluctance in leadership.
Obama had an unconventional upbringing. His mother Stanley Ann, known as Ann was married at 18 and divorced at 21 to Obama’s Kenyan father, a father who was absent for his life. When Ann remarried, Obama gained both a stepfather and a new life in Indonesia, then aged 10, he was sent back to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents and attend prep school, Obama has said: “…when I think about the fact that I was separated from her, I suspect it had more of an impact than I know.”