25th Jan 2013

A fresh start: the First 100 Days of Obama's second term

When President Barack Obama won the election back in November, I wrote that there were a number of things we should expect from him by the end of his first 100 days. That he would have;

  • set out a clear vision and strategy
  • brought people with him
  • and have a strong healthy team in place

This week President Obama started his second term in office. When he was first elected in 2008 Obama’s first day at the White House was spent figuring out the practicalities. One might imagine him asking when the bins go out, and searching for the office drawer key. These questions have long since been answered. So President Obama has the advantage of being able to get stuck in immediately. Making an impact from day 1 is vital. Obama now has the opportunity to do this.

In his second inauguration speech the President laid out his intentions to set a clear direction for the US “You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course.” And he is keenly aware of the urgency with which action needs to be taken, “For now decisions are upon us and we cannot delay.”

Obama can anticipate facing many new and unexpected challenges during his second term, and with the eyes of the world focused firmly on him. Some of the priorities he is under scrutiny to tackle are the debt ceiling, immigration reform and environmental issues. In light of recent tragedies the debate around gun control has also been brought to the fore, and the need for decisive action becomes ever more pressing.

Obama’s second term is essentially an opportunity for him to define his legacy. But, while it is his second time round, it is imperative that he lets go of the last term and starts afresh. It is a time to look to the future and to start with the end in mind. And it may be seen as an opportunity to make braver decisions without the worry of re-election.

Obama won his current term with considerably less of the popular vote. One of the most important things for a leader is to bring people with him or her. Adapting to embarking on a new term without a majority in the senate may be one of the toughest transition challenges Obama will face. He will need to tackle this head on. Having a strong team around him, with the right people in the right roles, will be invaluable as he gathers support and momentum.

We will be watching Obama’s progress eagerly, and by the end of his first 100 days journey we hope to find  that he is on course for a successful term, by way of vision, strategy, and team leadership.

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