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Who is the better change leader: Obama or McCain?

Harvard prof John Kotter is one of the foremost authorities on change leadership. I thought it would be interesting to apply Kotter’s eight-step process for implementing successful transformation to our two candidates for president, rating their effectiveness as change leaders. Here goes:

1. Increase Urgency – create the feeling that "we must act to address our situation."
McCain – short on prescriptions, long on attack. John gets a 0
Obama – heavy on diagnosis & prescriptions. Barack gets +1

2. Build the Guiding Team – put together the right group with the power to deliver.
McCain – For the inner circle, Steve Schmidt and the team have had trouble managing the Palin message. For VP, McCain has chosen a new face with some good history. From the party, the current US president stays at arm’s length. I give John -1
Obama – Inside David Plouffe has successfully unseated Hillary and executed consistent strategy to Put Obama out in front for his party. For VP, Obama has picked a seasoned statesman. On the outside he has won the support of Kennedy, Clinton & Carter. I give Barack +1

3. Get the Vision right – Create a compelling future that generates bold action.
McCain – The current cover of the economist says, "Bring back the real McCain." He talks about all the right things, but prescriptions are eclipsed by attacks on his opponent. I give McCain -1
Obama – Obama proclaims, "Enough." He lays out specific actions to address top priorities. I give Obama +1

4. Communicate for Buy-in – Send heartfelt messages that appeal to the gut.
McCain – His stalwarts give him a standing ovation. But the crowd is mostly white. Where is everyone else? I give John -1
Obama – His ranks are growing and his audiences look like America. I give Barack +1.

5. Empower Action – Remove barriers so your evangelists can act.
McCain – The Republicans shine when it comes to systematic organized, coherent effort. This election is no different. The machine is in swing. I give John +1
Obama – Democrats are notorious for chaos when it comes to structured, impactful execution. But, this guy is different. Obama has a machine, too. Barack gets +1.

6. Create Short-term wins – Demonstrate success as fast as possible.
McCain has pulled out in front from initial stumbling. John gets +1
Obama’s
ascent is nothing short of miraculous: Barack gets +1

7. Don’t Let Up – Generate wave after wave of action until victory is achieved.
Too early to tell. Both John and Barack get +1 for their current intensity.

8. Make change stick – Firmly embed new behavior.
McCain’s past performances show his persistence and ability to plant one win on top of another, legitimately changing the way people think and act. John gets +1
Obama’s previous efforts have made dramatic differences that continue to withstand the pressure to revert. Barack gets +1

total scores:
John McCain +1
Barack Obama +8

You know where I stand. How about you? (Remember, to post a comment, you have to register)

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