Presidential Conflict Avoidance

October 18th, 2012 | 112 Comments

One of the newer and truer maxims in leadership coaching circles is that a leader’s weaknesses come from overuse of their strengths. Now that the presidential campaign is in full swing, President Obama’s strengths and weaknesses are more visible than ever. To me, his most visible strength is his ability to mediate and bridge differences, and his accompanying weakness is an avoidance of confrontation.

We have learned about his family background, as a black child raised by a white mother and white grandparents, about his coming to his ethnic awareness at Occidental College in LA, and about his political emergence as the mediator between the liberals and conservatives at the Harvard Law Review. He further cultivated this strength as a community organizer in Chicago’s South Side, working with the Chicago political machine on behalf of the poor, working class and mostly African-American residents of his neighborhood. He became known as a bridge builder between often opposing forces, maintaining good relationships with both sides.

He rarely showed anger or directly confronted the power structure. It is said that this reputation made him quite acceptable and liked by the white voters. In 2008, his campaign even labeled him as a “post-partisan” leader.

Like most of us he relied heavily on this strength, avoiding its flip side, confrontation. In the first debate with John McCain he did not respond to McCain’s attacks. Even in office when the Republican leadership proclaimed that their first priority was to make him a one-term president, he persisted in reaching out to them. Most recently in his first debate with Governor Romney he stood uncomfortably silent as Romney made attack after attack. In these debates, I kept on wishing for him to fight back and defend himself. But he continued his awkward silence—I guess hoping for an opportunity to demonstrate his post-partisanship. After harsh media and public criticism for his recent performance, I assume he is getting coached and learning to develop his ability to confront and verbally defend himself.

Mr. Obama’s situation is not uncommon to leaders in other organizations. Over the past few years, I’ve worked with at least three leaders who rose to senior positions on their ability to mediate and prevent conflict, only to find themselves faced with skilled challengers eager to weaken this leader’s power or take their resources. Like President Obama, these leaders had spent their lives as “nice and smart people” who avoided confrontation. And like the president, they came to a point in their lives when they could no longer avoid confrontation. Through their coaching programs these leaders learned how to confront attackers and defend themselves. Along with learning the verbal and non-verbal skills of confronting, they connected with their own will and their anger toward people who played by different rules.

Expressing anger and self-defense are not easy skills to learn, especially after a lifetime avoiding them. These leaders worked hard in some challenging coaching sessions as they learned, step-by-step how to address this aspect of human relationships. I’m happy to say that after self-reflection and practice, all of them learned to confront and defend. I can only hope that Mr. Obama learns similar skills by his next debate.

112 Responses to “Presidential Conflict Avoidance”

  1. cialis cost wrote:

    cialis cost


  2. sildenafil citrate 100mg wrote:

    sildenafil citrate 100mg


  3. natural viagra wrote:

    natural viagra


  4. viagra online usa wrote:

    viagra online usa


  5. sildenafil 50 mg wrote:

    sildenafil 50 mg


  6. sildenafil online wrote:

    sildenafil online


  7. purchase cialis wrote:

    purchase cialis


  8. cialis europe wrote:

    cialis europe


  9. cialis sex pill wrote:

    cialis sex pill


  10. cialis pills wrote:

    cialis pills


  11. sildenafil wrote:



  12. viagra generic wrote:

    viagra generic


  13. sildenafil 100mg wrote:

    sildenafil 100mg


  14. cialis tadalafil buy online wrote:

    cialis tadalafil buy online


  15. purchase viagra wrote:

    purchase viagra


  16. over the counter viagra india wrote:

    over the counter viagra india


  17. sildenafil 20 mg tablet cost wrote:

    sildenafil 20 mg tablet cost


  18. cialis side effects wrote:

    cialis side effects


  19. viagra price wrote:

    viagra price


  20. where do i get cialis wrote:

    where do i get cialis


  21. online generic viagra wrote:

    online generic viagra


  22. buy viagra no rx wrote:

    buy viagra no rx


  23. generic viagra in canada wrote:

    generic viagra in canada


  24. sildenafil online prescription wrote:

    sildenafil online prescription


  25. cialis on line wrote:

    cialis on line


  26. viagra tablets online australia wrote:

    viagra tablets online australia


  27. sister took female viagra wrote:

    sister took female viagra


  28. viagra 100mg erfahrungsberichte wrote:

    viagra 100mg erfahrungsberichte


  29. viagra for sale in poland wrote:

    viagra for sale in poland


  30. generic name for cialis wrote:

    generic name for cialis


  31. generic tadalafil cost wrote:

    generic tadalafil cost


  32. viagra buy now wrote:

    viagra buy now


  33. what is the active ingredient in viagra wrote:

    what is the active ingredient in viagra


  34. herbal viagra wrote:

    herbal viagra


  35. viagra pill wrote:

    viagra pill


  36. viagra pornhub wrote:

    viagra pornhub


  37. generic without doctor viagra wrote:

    generic without doctor viagra


  38. viagra without doctor prescription wrote:

    viagra without doctor prescription


  39. viagra connect wrote:

    viagra connect


  40. viagra connect walmart wrote:

    viagra connect walmart


  41. viagra women wrote:

    viagra women


  42. viagra in india wrote:

    viagra in india


  43. viagra cost wrote:

    viagra cost


  44. viagra jokes wrote:

    viagra jokes


  45. cialis vs viagra wrote:

    cialis vs viagra


  46. viagra for men wrote:

    viagra for men


  47. viagra or cialis wrote:

    viagra or cialis


  48. barbie sex games wrote:

    games sex

  49. cheap viagra wrote:

    cheap viagra


  50. turning stone casino online wrote:

    free casino games online

  51. michigan casino online wrote:

    online casino real money free bonus

  52. ocean casino online login wrote:

    borgata free online casino

  53. hims viagra wrote:

    hims viagra


  54. real online casino no deposit bonus wrote:

    online sweepstakes casino real money

  55. watch casino online free wrote:

    bet mgm online casino pa

  56. new vegas casino online wrote:

    zone online casino msn games

  57. slots online casino free wrote:

    online casino florida

  58. online casino best payout wrote:

    casino online games real money

  59. dark chocolate keto wrote:

    keto macro calculator free

  60. keto potato salad wrote:

    keto beef stroganoff

  61. buy sildenafil online wrote:

    buy sildenafil online


  62. keto coffee recipe wrote:

    keto diet app

  63. keto chicken cordon bleu wrote:

    keto macros

  64. essay about writing wrote:

    writing essays help

  65. legit essay writing services wrote:

    write essays for money online

  66. generic sildenafil wrote:

    generic sildenafil


  67. websites that write essays wrote:

    paid essay writing

  68. write an expository essay wrote:

    when writing an essay

  69. writing an argumentative essay wrote:

    essays to write about

  70. teen gay dating sites wrote:

    gay dating gta 5

  71. dating a gay french man wrote:

    gay dating online south africa

  72. gay phone dating wrote:

    free gay dating services

  73. critical thinking activities pdf wrote:

    philosophy critical thinking

  74. critical thinking leadership wrote:

    critical and creative thinking

  75. critical thinking vs creative thinking wrote:

    critical thinking synonym

  76. apa essay format example wrote:

    personal essay topics

  77. what is an argumentative essay wrote:

    essay prompts

  78. what is a good hook for an essay wrote:

    topics for an argumentative essay

  79. how to write a book title in an essay wrote:

    define essay

  80. double spaced essay example wrote:

    essay rubric

  81. essay template wrote:

    common app essay examples

  82. social media essay wrote:

    colledge essay

  83. thesis in an essay wrote:

    how to cite an article in an essay

  84. 1000 word essay wrote:

    grammarly essay check

  85. 1legitimately wrote:


  86. free nude gay video chat wrote:

    gay chat sex

  87. gay dating free wrote:

    sugar daddy gay dating app

  88. gay christians dating wrote:

    alamosa gay dating sex

  89. free gay webcam chat rooms wrote:

    gay chat on webcam

  90. gay speed dating denver wrote:

    michael dinsmore gay dating

  91. gay chat avenue#1 wrote:

    gay chat rooms on aol

  92. chat de gay usa avenue wrote:

    local gay chat

  93. tadalafila wrote:



  94. newest gay dating site wrote:

    gay free dating 4 older uk

  95. las vegas world slots free wrote:

    scatter slots characters

  96. lucky slots on facebook wrote:

    zelda inventory slots

  97. dragon slots wrote:

    monopoly slots free

  98. igt slots downloads wrote:

    ashbringer relic slots

  99. free video slots wrote:

    gossip slots

  100. in the money slots wrote:

    wobka slots promo codes

  101. oceans of beauty slots wrote:

    innovative slots

  102. baba wild slots casino wrote:

    real casino free slots

  103. play free vegas slots wrote:

    jackpot magic slots

  104. play free bonus slots wrote:

    123 slots

  105. free las vegas slots wrote:

    gold fish casino slots

  106. las vegas slots free play wrote:

    casino slots with bonus

  107. dissertation help wrote:

    dissertation proposal example

  108. msc dissertation help wrote:

    writing dissertation for dummies

  109. ucf thesis and dissertation wrote:

    dissertation writing books

  110. proposal and dissertation help nursing wrote:

    phd no dissertation

  111. whats a dissertation wrote:

    online dissertation help database

  112. buy dissertation writing services wrote:

    dissertation title