Now out of the constant spotlight, former U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have been writing and speaking about the way they approached the world before and during their time in the White House.
CAVEAT: Now, we haven’t seen the Obama’s Kolbe A™ Index results (or know if they have taken the assessment), but we have seen them up close through their books, speeches and live events and offer the following observations as a possible insight into the M.O. of an accomplished couple. And no, this isn’t about politics or policy.
In Michelle Obama’s recent best-selling memoir, Becoming, she says, “Barack’s a fact guy and I’m a planner,” offering us a major hint at the MO of both Obamas. Throughout the book, Michelle’s actions fit the bill for someone with an Initiating strength in Follow Thru, while Barack’s evident knack for facts suggests that he has an Initiating strength in the Fact Finder Mode. In the memoir, Michelle describes her seemingly instinctive drive to prepare for their first baby, to plan her career path, to plan around her father’s passing, and even mentions admiring the organization system in the White House residence closets…
In addition to her knack for following a system and planning ahead, Michelle’s memoir recalls her “natural resistance to chaos and spontaneity” and how a life in politics often went against her grain.
At a recent talk attended by a Kolbe staff member, the former President revealed some hints into his instinctive strengths. He told the audience that, as President, he lived by the credo, “If I had enough data and all the angles, I knew I could make the best decisions.” He referenced the time he spent reading, researching, and probing problems from multiple angles. According to a 2017 interview with the New York Times, Obama spent about an hour reading late most nights while in the White House. He concluded by saying, “Facts, reason, and data provide a common reference point,” illustrating his world-view based on gathering information.
Michelle and Barack Obama faced many consequential decisions in their lives, and likely approached them with different strengths. At Kolbe we know that the trick for any couple with contrasting strengths is to appreciate and respect each other, instead of getting in each other’s way. Our couples report, Takes Two, offers advice about committed relationships that could apply to the Obamas just as much as any couple. In the introduction it says: “First, you won’t change your partner’s instincts and they won’t change yours. … An indispensable part of that process is understanding each other and yourself.”
Learn more about Takes Two here.
We don’t know for sure if the Obamas took this advice as a couple, but their recent reflections show how their accomplishments as President and First Lady may have had more than a little to do with their unique instinctive strengths.