7 Leadership Lessons to be Learnt from Modi & Obama

7 Leadership Lessons to be Learnt from Modi & Obama

Leadership & Management

GlobalLinker Staff

GlobalLinker Staff

20 Mar 2015, 13:50 — 5 min read

On his visit to India in the month of January, it was hard to miss the easy rapport that the US President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared. Both of these men have overcome incredible odds to lead the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy.

Although politics and business are two different fields, entrepreneurs can learn some important lessons from the leadership style of Prime Minister Modi & President Obama.


  1. Build a strong team
    Modi & Obama give priority to building a strong team by placing people in positions that make their inherent capabilities shine the most. Both ensure that each team members feels that their contribution is important for the nation’s growth. In business too, leaders should ensure that one’s team is robust, motivated and works in alignment with the organisation’s goals. Business leaders should invest in their people to build a great organisation.

  2. Do it yourself if you know it best
    Both Modi & Obama are hands-on in their approach to work. Many felt that Modi’s was a dictatorial Chief Minister because of the number of vitals posts he himself held in his state cabinet. Modi believes that delegating work is important but doing things that you think only you can do is more important. Obama similarly likes to keep foreign policy in his own hands because he believes he can do it best.

    While it is important for a business leader to be an effective delegator, they must also be willing at all times to roll up their sleeves and take up any critical task that they feel they can do best.

  3. Charismatic leadership
    Before the election, President Barack Obama drew the attention of America and the entire world with his charismatic personality. Modi strikes a chord with both the masses and classes. He can connect with the downtrodden with his eloquent speeches as well as hobnob with heads of state and important businesspersons with equal ease. Both Obama & Modi are brilliant orators and use this skill to their advantage. A business leader must also have the charisma to inspire and motivate their team.

  4. Confidence & playing to one’s strengths 
    Modi is always brimming with confidence and that is probably how he is able to inspire confidence in the electorate. Obama is a supremely confident and self-assured leader. He uses his sharp wit and exceptional oratory skills to get his point across. He once said, “Challenge yourself. Take some risks in your life.” Self-assurance and confidence are important prerequisites for business leaders.

  5. Use Technology Effectively
    Effective use of technology was one of the defining features of Modi & Obama’s electoral campaigns. The knowledge of how to leverage different kinds of technologies to address different audiences helped them connect better with people. They both ran extremely successful social media campaigns and effectively captured the imagination of the youth. Similarly, a business leader must be savvy with all communication channels and must discern which are the best mediums to reach out to one’s customers.

  6. Efficient time management
    Modi & Obama are both very efficient at managing their time. The Indian Prime Minister is known to sleep for only 3 hours a day; get an early start in the morning and finish late at night. Obama has said, "I'm part of an organisation, and one of the things I really try to push in the organisation is to make sure that everybody is focused on the two or three things that are really going to be game-changers. I ask them to design my schedule in a way that focuses not just on what's coming at us, but on being active instead of reactive. I don't spend a lot of time returning phone calls or e-mails. Eliminating TV has been helpful."

  7. Leading by example 
    Modi believes in leading from the frontlines. He has been very successful in selling his ideas to people and firmly believes in letting his work speak for itself. On his first day of office, President Obama froze senior White House staff salaries exceeding $100,000 and promised more openness and transparency to “make government more trustworthy in the eyes of the American people.” His action conveyed to the nation that he was willing to do all that was necessary to revive the ailing economy. 


As a business leader, it is important to be confident about oneself, one’s product and team and let this communicate itself to the target audience. A leader must be sincere, honest, hardworking and lead by example. In the words of John Quincy Adams, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.


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GlobalLinker Staff

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