America certainly has gone through a major political upheaval over the past one year and whether we like it or not, it has elected a President who appears, in many ways, to be the stark opposite of the one before. But will we only miss Barack Obama? Or also, strangely, miss his wife even more – the oh so elegant, strong and inspiring Michelle Obama? Yes, we will, and why not? The First Lady (or FLOTUS as she calls herself on Twitter) has set a few never-before set benchmarks when it comes to the code and conduct of what an ideal FLOTUS could be.
After all, when you are married to one of world’s most important leaders, people are looking up to you as well for inspiration. You are influencing the lives of many and Michelle Obama has definitely laid out some crucial leadership lessons which we can all take a few cues from.
1. Be original. Be yourself.
Whether it was her carpool Karaoke with James Cordon, rapping with Missy Elliot or her Shimmy Twist with James Fallon, Michelle Obama never let her First Lady status get in the way of expressing her individuality. She was effortlessly fun. Imagine an uptight, serious and snooty figure for a First Lady and contrast that to Michelle’s flair. Aren’t we glad she happened to the world of politics? We are and we owe this to her unique personality which she did not subdue despite being the boss lady.
It is not possible to hide your true personality for a very long time. No one should even try doing so especially when one is in a leadership role because when the bubble breaks, you may lose all your credibility instantly. Being yourself will also sustain you for the long haul as then you do not need to put on an act. Even when times are hard, one must stay true to oneself. Originality is here to stay.
2. Be inspirational yet accessible.
What good is a leader if her followers cannot relate to her? All of Michelle Obama’s speeches have given us glimpses of her life at the White House, how she and her husband are consciously raising their daughters, how she first met her husband, what living in a house originally built by slaves means to her and more. She has urged her girls to put “books before boys” (‘Let Girls Learn’) and she has both preached and practiced healthy living (‘Let’s move’). All these glimpses of her bring her down to earth, make her look like one of us and help us build a connect with her. Top this up with her unfailing charm and there you have a leader who is accessible, comforting and simply human.
Such a leader is bound to attract many, and inspire trust. You do as she says because you know it’s not just rhetoric. She backs all the issues she supports with her own personal example and story. A leader who walks her talk motivates us to go that extra mile. The key, of course, is to first be able to feel that connect.
3. Own the contribution you can make.
As charming, confident and smart Barack Obama may be, one cannot help but admire Michelle’s ability to hold her own. Far from being an arm candy, here you have a confident woman that is in every way her husband’s equal. She has her own views, opinions and passions, and she does not shy away from sharing those with the world, as is evident in her eloquent and moving speeches. She never looked overwhelmed or intimidated by her husband’s stature and, in fact, found her own set of fans and followers. She is an embodiment of hope for all girls across the world, especially given her background and how far she has come. She is secure and comfortable in her own skin – a tall and proud African-American woman – not afraid to carve her own legacy. And, because she is confident in the contribution that she can make, when you put her next to Barack, what you get is an awe-inspiring team of equals that is stronger together.
Whatever team you are a part of, you are a part of it for a very good reason. You have a unique set of skills, talents and a personality that you bring to the table, so why not own that? As women, one thing we absolutely do not want to do is fade into the background or hide behind other men, no matter how senior or how seemingly smarter they might be in comparison. In the words of Sheryl Sandberg, “take a seat at the table,” with the confidence that your contribution matters and makes the team stronger.
It is not every day that you get to become the First Lady of the U.S. But if you do it right, you will be remembered forever. Michelle Obama is an epitome of style and grace. If there is one quote that can sum up what one could learn from her, it is what she said at Democratic National Convention (2016)- “When they go low, we go high.”
About The Author
An MBA from MICA, Parul Tyagi is a marketer and a freelance content curator for over a decade now. An avid blogger, she has written articles for several offline and online publications. After penning down her first two fiction books- Love Will Find A Way and Hurry Om Hari, she forayed into non-fiction writing with her latest, quirky and strictly non-preachy title- 69 Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting Married. A full-time mother of two boys, Parul finds her peace in reading, traveling and eating (mostly all at the same time!)